'Artifact' Streamers and Reddit Upset Over Monetization of Valve's Card Game

When Artifact, Valve's DOTA 2 card game, was first revealed at the 2017 International tournament, response seemed lackluster. Fans of the company and it's games like Counter Strike and Half-Life have been waiting for the gaming titan to release more titles in their favorite series for decades. Instead, they got a MOBA-themed deck builder that just doesn't have the same star appeal as a Portal 3 . Still, many players waited until they could see the game for themselves before making any judgment calls.

Now that Artifact has finally lifted it's streaming embargo, some of the most successful (and vocal) players can finally share their opinions of the game. Twitch streamers like Forsen, Disguised Toast and Thisj have been tinkering with the game's Beta and have been waiting patiently to share their opinions. Many have wondered if Valve has a game that can topple Hearthstone, the largest online card game of the last five years. If you look at their responses, that doesn't look likely.

Tried Artifact for 5 hours today.

High Skill Ceiling
Lots of mechanics and strategy

Hard to watch as a viewer
$20 Initial Cost
Must pay for more cards
$1 per Draft Run (unless you hit 3 wins)
Too much IQ needed for my small brain

Not the game for me.

— Disguised Toast (@DisguisedToast) November 18, 2018

As requested a lot I want to share my view, I will not play Artifact for now. Game doesn´t appeal me much, very hard to watch for viewers and big concerns on the economy system of the game.

I hope for the ones that play Valve can deliver, just not the game for me and thats okay.

— Thijs (@G2Thijs) November 18, 2018

Regarding Artifact’s $1 draft, I’ve been thinking: If I paid a dollar each time I played Arena in HS, that would be about $2,000 by now.

— Amaz (@Amaz) November 18, 2018

I have played all ccg and tcg games on the planet and the constructed format of artifact does not stand out, it is not the next big thing.

The game is truly dead on arrival if they push constructed first.

Draft is actually something elevating.

— Janne Mikkonen (@Savjz) November 18, 2018

Artifact's gameplay has been applauded; having three lanes to fight on increases strategic depth and allows for more interesting play. Using heroes and a unique mana system, you can do things that just aren't possible in other card games. The big problems start to arise when you look at the game's monetization model. Buying the game costs $20, which gives you 10-packs, five event tickets and two starter decks full of common cards. You can only earn cards by opening packs, by buying them in the Steam marketplace or by earning them in limited time Keeper Draft events (which cost an even ticket.) Packs can be bought for real-world money or earned by winning games in Expert (competitive) modes that cost an event ticket.

Heroes are needed for play, but can only be found in Call to Arms packs. If you can't find the heroes you need in your card packs, you're either going to have to barter in the marketplace or keep spending real-world money.

UPDATE: Valve has addressed a series of these concerns in a new blog post. "Since lifting the NDA on the private beta yesterday, there's been an overwhelming amount of feedback on all parts of the game," the post said. In the next Beta build (available later today), players will be able to do a Phantom Draft in any user-created tournament and will be able to play the mode in Casual Play as well. Also, extra cards will be able to be recycled into event tickets.

Kripparrian, one of the largest Hearthstone content creators, has been streaming the game for the past few days and has released a video talking about Artifact's economy. "In Artifact, it's almost impossible to gain value from your time," he said. "If you want to play the competitive modes all the time, you're going to have to put money into the game or constantly be using the Marketplace."

The Artifact subreddit seems to share a lot of the same sentiments. Posts with hundreds of upvotes talk about the problems with the monetization model. "This sub is going nuclear. If this sub is an accurate reflection of the majority, then RIP Artifact," wrote one user. Many seem upset by the fact that drafts cost one dollar to play and packs can't be earned just by grinding the game. If you want to be successful at Artifact , you are going to need to put down a significant amount of real-world money.

One user looked into Richard Garfield's Manifesto, a Facebook post created by the creator of Magic the Gathering and one of the leads working on Artifact. Garfield believes that "paying for things that give an advantage in a competitive game is something that I believe can be done in a way that is not abusive" and that buying "power ups, leveling and access to tools" preys on gamers. Being able to pay-to-win is bad card design according to Garfield, who believes that Artifact's method of pay-to-maybe-win is better.

It's unclear what the future holds for Artifact. Those most vocal online believe that's it's dead on arrival, while others are willing to give it more of a shot.