Steven R. March 30, 2019
Valve has broken its lengthy silence regarding Dota 2 card game Artifact, but it didn’t really say anything at all.
Following months without a peep on its website or any of its social media channels, a post titled “Towards A Better Artifact” appeared on the official Artifact blog that was a strange blend of candid and vague. In it, Valve acknowledged the game’s steep decline since launch but offered no specifics regarding Artifact’s future.
“Obviously, things didn't turn out how we hoped,” the statement read. “Artifact represents the largest discrepancy between our expectations for how one of our games would be received and the actual outcome.”
Artifact was initially teased during The International 2017 with the game receiving a substantial media push during the summer of 2018. The game launched to solid reviews in October but interest in the game evaporated almost completely in the weeks that followed.
The game peaked at over 60,000 concurrent players on release according to Steam Charts, but by the end of November that tally dropped to 45,000. That drop only became steeper with time as it hit 6,500 by the new year and settled under 1,000 in February. As of this writing, the 24-hour peak is just 352.
Making matters worse, Valve has made no effort to alleviate the concerns of its handful of remaining players. The last public announcement from the Artifact team came in the form of a Twitter post on December 21. The only news to arrive regarding the game since then came in early March, when it was discovered that Artifact co-designers Richard Garfield and Skaff Elias had been laid off by Valve.
That news coupled with the company’s radio silence had the look of the publisher calling it quits on the game completely.
So does this mean that Valve is recommitted to Artifact? Can fans expect new and exciting things from the game in the near future? Are the previously discussed expansions and million dollar tournaments finally going to become a reality?
Judging from the blog post, the answer to all of these questions is not any time soon.
“Moving forward, we'll be heads-down focusing on addressing these larger issues instead of shipping updates” Valve said. “While we expect this process of experimentation and development to take a significant amount of time, we’re excited to tackle this challenge and will get back to you as soon as we are ready.”
While Artifact fans can take some solace in the fact that the game hasn’t been completely abandoned, its future still remains very uncertain.