It is obvious that when speaking of one of the biggest names who is capable of producing Steam’s biggest hits, players will have Valve in their mind. And it is clear that Artifact is one of Valve’s biggest hits. The game has reached a respectable of 2 million copies sold on Steam, however, the game’s players have been dropping hard ever since the game release, and there are more players who are currently playing Portal 2 – another of Valve’s production.


It is not necessarily a serious phenomenon when gamers starting to leave a certain game, it is how gaming works. However, this is not the case for Artifact, the game has reached its limits of 60,000 concurrent players, and since then lower by a half each day after. Currently, the game only reached the range of 940 to 1,384 concurrent players as reported by Steamcharts.

Andrey ‘Reynard’ Yanyuk – a professional Hearthstone player – stated that the fun aspect is what Artifact currently lack at the moment, which is a serious problem for the game. Will there be a solution to this?

The game’s fall.

The fall has been pretty unexpected, even those who did not have any high expectation for the game was taken aback by this. Reynard, who is currently in the process of making his own card game known as The Bazaar, released a review that reviewed Artifact the previous November. In the video, Reynard complimented on the game strengths, stating that the game has a topnotch visual, also commenting on the depth of the game’s rules engine. Nevertheless, he also noted the game’s drawbacks such as the lack of card synergy, the game’s randomness, and opacity. Additionally, the center of Reynard criticism was the combat between the beast, which he stated that was a complicated but ultimately dull equation, lacking the pizzazz and splashy effects compare to that of Hearthstone.


The numbers were quite convincing, he further stated as Artifact was flopping right after its release. Also, he was expecting that the game would be more popular than its current state. The game is currently having the smallest player base amongst other card games.

The last December, the game developer released the update known as the “Build Your Legend”, which fixed most of the problems that the game’s players were having at that time. The update also came with the progression systems, which gave experience points for accomplishing achievement or winning matchmaking. Also, winning three matchmakings in the same week, players could earn tons of experience bonus as well. When reaching a sufficient level, players could be rewarded with free icons, tickets, and card packs. A measurement for skill rating was also added in the update.

It was stated by Stanislav ‘StanCifka’ Cifka – a professional Hearthstone and Magic: The Gathering player – that the update was a right move which leads Artifact into a right direction. Getting tons of experience and rewards for achievements was awesome. He further stated that the game still lacked the ladder system, however, the update was a considerable good starting point.

Build Your Legend saved Artifact for a while, the day of the update saw a rise of players watching the game on Twitch, which was over 20,000 viewers. However, the 20,000 plus did not affect the concurrent player much, with only an approximate of 3,000 people were playing the game.

Hbszfmbyt2a3fgzmrpg9te 650 80

According to Giana ‘Bloody’ Kaplan – a full-time streamer of Artifact – a growing number of viewers who enjoys her stream never have the intention to play the game. This disconnect between streamers and players is a serious issue as stated by Giana.

While more and more people would rather watch the game than play it. The game’s reputation was in crisis by its overwhelming look, which includes three lanes full of cards that players will find difficulties keeping track of. This is not a problem for Bloody, however, she stated that casual players and newbies could be intimidated by the strategic complexity and the visual of the game. In addition to its complicated looks, the game’s strategy itself is more complex than any digital card game that you might know.

With the game’s three-lane mechanism is an obvious difficulty for players to learn. Players who mastered this mechanism ultimately become accustomed to holding two additional board states on their mind, while they can still peek into one of the other lanes when it needs to. So viewers often lose track of the gameplay.

Vyngxpl9cjbhrc3vuv39hc 650 80

According to Adrian ‘Lifecoach’ Koy – a former professional poker player who has since quitted Hearthstone – Artifact is like a punched in the face. He agreed that the game’s difficulty was making it more hollow, however, the difficulty itself ultimately served as the game’s strength, which would attract people who savor complexity. He further stated that the game required complete concentration, which players could not simultaneously play the game and chat with their friends or check their social media on their phone.

Adrian’s partner, Mirijam ‘Wifecoach’ Koy, who was also a Hearthstone prior to switching to Artifact, also commented on the game’s divisive randomness. He personally found the amount of RNG in the game was just right, however, he stated that the game should be less complex and sophisticated as it is then.

The game’s future.

Despite the reduction of players, the game does not take much of your time to get into a match, however, this may change if more players continue to leave the game. Then it will be a matter of time until it viewers declare Artifact a “dead-game” in the comments.

Hxyzhdyxh5dxmnm4nee7kj 650 80

Nonetheless, will this be an issue for Valve? Although Epic Store posed a new threat for the game publisher, the Half-Life publisher still has enough money to make several more hits. So what if one of Valve’s product is a flop? Reynard stated that Valve currently held a unique place amongst the game publishers thanks to Steam. However, this is still an important lesson for the game publisher. Game publishers these days have to grasp players’ desires. It seems that Valve did not achieve the goal at the moment. Artifact was initially made for players to want to play the game, which is unfortunately failed because the game was out of touch with the players.

Many people brought up the fact that this problem has existed in several of Valve’s products. Dota 2 was the prime example, as stated by Lifecoach, the game has had a slow start, which eventually turned popular later. So Valve is more capable of working their way to improve their game.

Dota 2 has received many tweaks and improvement, for example, the change in the menus, the UI, and the overall newbies’ experience, which will be similar to what Artifact needs right now.

Ss 539c83f9f7619bdec6dc763ccd889c772a1e983f 0

There are lots of suggestion concerning how Valve could turn the tide to their favor, one of which is making the game free to play, however, this could be the wrong move consider how it would divide the players who have bought the game and those who don’t. The solution would also disturb the balance, which depends on its economy to handle card rarity. In theory, the cards’ value has been dropping while players are dumping their decks, and collecting a complete deck is currently dropping at $61.85.

Artifact needs to be redesigned to work in the same way of Hearthstone. Artifact has a space between current pricing model and play free to explore. For instance, the players can earn cards during play that cannot sell.

Wifecoach offers a free trial version to help new players to test the water easier, claiming that other popular CCGs give players free access to the ‘basic version’, but they have to pay for packs etc. Although, in Artifact it cost less to get a full collection than Hearthstone and Magic, players cannot just try and see it if they do not invest money, which completely is a barrier.

Bloody states that the point answers is dependent on Artifact's success as an esport, and there is a tournament planned for the first quarter of 2019 sporting a million-dollar prize. This kind of money will attract sponsors, competitors and viewers like a magnet. Thousands of casual players watch streams and buy packs, which will keep the whole ecosystem functional.


Giving up would be another option. Although, Valve unlikely drift away from Artifact over time. Valve could update it less frequently until it has a quiet death. However, all the Artifact players won’t quit as they think the game is worth saving.

The game has also some positives. It is the best looking digital card game in existence. Artifact has a high skill ceiling, as high as most card games. Much of the flavor and mechanics convey well into the game. The design space is broad to be addressed in future expansions. The game has potential, if the dev team makes a paradigm shift to salvage the game.

StanCifka agrees that the core of Artifact is great but whole infrastructure around it needs to be focused and develop.

Wifecoach says the state of Artifact is amazing, beautiful, super fun, relatively balanced and no bug.

Over the last three months, everyday, Artifact has under 1,000 viewers across all of Twitch. While Shadowvers’s Twitch numbers are over that line a few times a week.

Improvements are likely coming, but Valve needs spread the news and revitalize the community. It depends on a number of players who still care enough to notice.