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Artifact has been one of Valve’s sloppiest titles. Coming from a company that had such elaborate plans to make it one of the biggest card games on the Internet, player adoption was extremely low.  Many people bought Artifact in the hope of trying something new and hit an invisible paywall which one cannot grind through. Even hardcore players left playing the game within a month, leading to a 95% decrease in its player count. If that wasn’t enough bad news for Valve, streamers used the “Artifact” category on Twitch for streaming pornography and memes. Valve had backtracked since that and had announced a slew of changes to fix immediate issues with the game, and came up with a long term plan for putting the game on the right track.

The game will be transitioning to a phase called beta 2.0. Valve openly admits that one beta wasn’t enough to determine the flaws in the game, and they had worked upon and come up with several changes that impact the player experience. The entire game would likely be receiving a revamp, with major gameplay and balance changes being rolled out for the new ‘beta’. Valve also plans to address hero identity and color identity through balance changes so that heroes do not fulfill multiple roles at once and only do what they were set out to do. Minor changes like the addition of a feature for watching replays, spectating running games as well tweaking existing social features are also on the to-do list.

However, the main region being targeted, and targeted hard, is the spectrum of card unlocks and ranked play. The main problem with Artifact in the last ‘beta’ (as they call it) was that people had to pay a price to get in, and it still wasn’t enough for getting access to the full game – one still had to pay money to get cards. The problem with cards was their varying pricing – cards like Drow and Axe had a cost up to 2000 INR and 3000 INR respectively – which meant that putting together a competitive deck was quite difficult. In the new beta, cards will only be unlockable, so players with more hours will get an advantage in the game both in terms of the gameplay experience and card collection. Lastly, it seems that Valve would also be following Riot’s monetization model for Legends of Runeterra by cashing in heavily on cosmetics instead of cards or packs. However, this also spells doom for people who spent a lot of money on Artifact during its initial launch, and most of the cards will lose their functionality – indicating that their values on the Steam community market will fall drastically.

Everyone who bought the original link will receive a sign-up link in their inboxes. The beta will be closed for the first phase of testing, and gradually open up with more invites being sent out to the people who supported the game during its initial launch. During the testing phase, all draft modes (with the exception of Hero Draft) will be disabled, and there will be a few bugs as well as new cards with temporary art. Only those who supported Artifact before 30th March 2020 will get a chance to be a part of this closed beta as of now.

It’s definitely heartening to see that Valve hasn’t left Artifact as abandonware. While the proposed changes might not make the game magically appealing to players who do not like card games, the changes to the monetization system are sure to bring back a portion of the people who supported the game during its launch. Our review for Artifact states that the game is good for people ‘who like new concepts and gameplay mechanics’, but it isn’t for people ‘who aren’t ready to put in small amounts of money from time to time for cards’.

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