Valve to cease development of Artifact 2.0, makes both versions free-to-play

Press "F" to pay your respects.

Image via Valve

Valve will no longer be working on Artifact or its sequel, the company announced today.

When it was first announced in 2017, the reaction to Artifact was already mixed at best. The game was released in November 2018, only to lose almost 90 percent of its players in a matter of five months. While the gameplay was innovative enough with many cool mechanics, fans were divided on Artifact’s economic model and random elements. After noticing the original version’s fundamental flaws, Valve announced that it’d go back to the drawing board.

But today, the development of Artifact 2.0, the overhauled version of Artifact, came to an end.

“While we’re reasonably satisfied we accomplished most of our game-side goals, we haven’t managed to get the active player numbers to a level that justifies further development at this time.” Valve said. Despite all the new features and fixes, Artifact 2.0 still wasn’t able to convince the fan base to return to the game.

The community was still divided on whether the original version of the game was actually better than the reworked product. The invite waves to the beta were also slower than expected, causing most people to lose interest.

Even though Valve is stopping development of Artifact 2.0, the company will keep the two versions of the game alive. The original version is being renamed to Artifact Classic, while the 2.0 beta is now called Artifact Foundry.

Artifact Classic is free-to-play and players will have access to all cards from the get-go. The marketplace integration was removed from the game, but players who bought the game and the cards in the past will receive the “Collector’s Edition” version of their collection, which will be marketable. Paid event tickets are also gone, meaning players will be able to enjoy all the game modes. Paid players will continue to earn Collector’s Edition cards while playing the game, but free-to-play users won’t.

Artifact Foundry will also be free-to-play and cards will be unlocked through gameplay. There won’t be any card packs or cards for sale, meaning playing the game is the only way to unlock all the cards. Artifact Foundry cards won’t be for sale and all the card art that was created for the game is now live.

The addition of a Collector’s Edition to Artifact Classic means that refunding the original title won’t be possible and the anticipated $1 million prize pool tournament likely won’t happen. 

Though keeping both versions of the game alive is an excellent way to pay tribute to the legacy of Artifact, some people may wonder if there were other ways to save the game. It had no issues drawing in players with a potential International-like tournament on the horizon.

The players who quit soon after its release in 2018 didn’t have many chances to hear about the game. Only the dedicated fans on community hubs like Reddit were up-to-date enough to try out the most recent version of the game.

Artifact could potentially relive its glory days with a little marketing, but if that still doesn’t justify the costs, it’d be hard to blame Valve for finally pulling the plug.