Valve has announced it's ending development on its reboot of beleaguered card-battler Artifact, and will be making both existing version of the game free for everyone to play.
The original version of Artifact, designed by Magic: The Gathering creator Richard Garfield, failed to make much of an impact following its launch in 2018. Players rejected everything from its perceived complexity to its pricing mode (requiring both an upfront purchase and payment for additional cards), and it was barely seeing 100 players online in a 24-hour period by July.
Then, in May last year, after almost a year of silence, Valve confirmed it was embarking on a major overhaul of the game called Artifact 2.0 - which include a new three-lane view, a new draft mode, and, most significantly, would drop the ability to purchase cards and packs.
Ten months on, however, Valve has announced it will call time on project. "While we're reasonably satisfied we accomplished most of our game-side goals," it wrote in a blog update, "we haven't managed to get the active player numbers to a level that justifies further development at this time."
"However," it continued, "we recognise that both versions of Artifact still have players and still have value to the community." As such, it will make Artifact 1.0 and 2.0 free for everyone.
Artifact 1.0 will be renamed Artifact Classic and all players will get every card free. Those that bought the game previously will have their existing cards converted to special Collector's Edition versions, and will be able to earn more of these by playing. Free players will not.
As for Artifact 2.0, it'll be renamed Artifact Foundry, and all cards will be earnable through play - as was the original intention of the reboot. "Technically Artifact Foundry remains an unfinished product," Valve writes, "but most of what's missing is polish and art - the core gameplay is all there." All final card art that was in the works has now been added to the game.
"We're grateful to all Artifact players, and particularly to those who were able to help us tune and refine what would become Artifact Foundry," the developer concluded. "The team feels this is the approach that best serves the community. We're proud of the work we've done on both games and excited about delivering them to a much larger audience of gamers."