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Valve plots Artifact reboot

Buy back.

Valve plans to reboot Dota 2 card video game flop Artifact.

"First off, we wanted to say thanks for all of your tweets, emails and posts," reads an "under construction" post on the Artifact Steam page.

"The continued interest in Artifact has been encouraging, and we sincerely appreciate all of the feedback!

"You might notice some changes soon - we are starting tests on our systems and infrastructure. This shouldn't impact live Artifact but we wanted to give you a heads up.

"Expect more news after the launch of Half-Life: Alyx!"

Valve's post was sparked by an Edge magazine interview with Gabe Newell (via GamesRadar), who said the company was "surprised" by what was "an interesting failure".

Cover image for YouTube videoWe interview Artifact's lead designer, Richard Garfield (AKA the creator of Magic: The Gathering)

Artifact is arguably Valve's biggest ever video game failure. At the time of publication of a July 2019 Eurogamer investigation into Artifact's demise, just 101 players were in-game, with the 24 hour peak being only marginally better at 124. Why did it collapse so soon after it came out? The biggest issue was the pricing structure. From our investigation, penned by Mike Stubbs:

"First off you had to drop £15.99 to just buy the game, which would give you two starter decks and 10 bonus packs of cards. If you then wanted to get more cards, which would have been necessary if you wanted to build a top level deck unless you got incredibly lucky, you would either have to buy more packs at £1.49, win them in the game modes that require a ticket, which cost £3.75 for a pack of five, to enter, or simply buy the cards from the Steam Marketplace.

"But the rarity of the strongest cards such as Axe meant prices shot up. Within two days of launch a single Axe already cost more than the game itself. It felt like you had to put down a lot of money if you wanted to play with a competitive deck in the most competitive modes in the early days."

Cover image for YouTube video9 minutes of Artifact Gameplay - The new game from VALVE

"Artifact was an interesting failure in its first go-round," Newell told Edge. "We were surprised. We thought that it was a really strong product.

"We ran an experiment, we got a negative result, and now we need to see if we've learned anything from that, so let's try again.

"And that's what [the Artifact team] have been doing and that's what they're getting ready to release. Based on the reaction to it, what was wrong with the product? How did we get there? Let's fix those things and take another run at it."

According to Newell, Valve is working on a "larger reboot" of Artifact it calls Artifact 2 internally, although it's unclear whether we're looking at a sequel here, or a No Man's Sky-style comeback for the original game. Either way, it appears Artifact is not quite dead yet.