Valve's Dota card game Artifact was largely a misfire, as the community and population has all but evaporated. But in a new interview, one of the former devs says he's still hopeful, and says that even more Artifact was in the plans prior to everything going downhill.
In an interview with Game Informer, Magic: The Gathering creator and former Artifact designer Richard Garfield says there were "expansions" for Artifact being worked on before he left. He also references discussion of alternative structures for the in-game card economy, including making all common-rarity cards free to players. But ultimately, he cites community issues as one of the big reasons for Artifact's downfall.
"I do wish we could've figured out a way to manage our relationship with the fans better, because in the end, I think [Artifact] was a very good game, but not necessarily for everybody," Garfield says.
Valve's original model for Artifact mirrored real-world card games like Magic: The Gathering, where the primary outlet for new cards was through buying packs. But on digital platforms and in a post-Hearthstone world, that structure didn't go over well with players who might've been expecting a more free-to-play model. Garfield has cited these issues in interviews before now, saying the revenue model is "more generous than Magic."
But when the biggest news about Artifact in recent memory was its Twitch category becoming a repository for porn and shock videos, it's hard to see a silver lining. As Artifact is still ostensibly in recovery mode, fellow Dota spinoff Dota Underlords is finding success where Artifact didn't-albeit still competing with fellow MOBA franchise League of Legends through Teamfight Tactics.
Artifact may yet one day resurface, with some changes to its structure and a new appeal to fans. One of its former designers seems optimistic; "I have this sort of idealistic hope that it'll find its audience eventually," Garfield says. "But I also know that there's a lot of games I love that never did succeed, and so that might not be the case."