Valve published its first blog post on Artifact since January, and it sounds like the developers understand that the Dota 2 card game truly is in bad shape. Going forward, Valve says it's ditching regular updates in favor of a deeper approach to reworking and ultimately fixing Artifact.
"Artifact represents the largest discrepancy between our expectations for how one of our games would be received and the actual outcome," writes Valve programmer Jeep Barnett. "But we don't think that players misunderstand our game, or that they're playing it wrong."
Barnett admits that "there are deep-rooted issues with the game and that [Valve's] original update strategy of releasing new features and cards would be insufficient to address them. Instead, we believe the correct course of action is to take larger steps, to re-examine the decisions we've made along the way regarding game design, the economy, the social experience of playing, and more."
Artifact launched on November 28, 2018. Since then, the number of concurrent players dropped into the hundreds, and the card economy is so off-balance that a set of all the cards can be purchased for $60.
Players criticized Artifact's economy and lack of cheap or even free options to really play the game at a competitive level. Artifact's designer Richard Garfield didn't get his contract renewed during recent layoffs at Valve.
The company has been relatively quiet about the future of Artifact, with some players worried that Valve would cut their losses and shut down production on the game. But today's blog post signals otherwise.
From the sound of it, Valve intends to do away with superficial updates and balance changes for something more drastic. Valve says it will be re-examining the game design and more. There's a good chance that when Artifact reemerges, it will not resemble the card game it is now.
Valve doesn't lay out a timetable for when its big changes will take place. Instead, Barnett says that Valve will be "heads-down focusing on addressing these larger issues instead of shipping updates." So, Artifact might go dormant for a bit as Valve figures out what to do next.
Hopefully Artifact has a chance to stage some kind of a comeback. Check out our Artifact guide for our full coverage.