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#1 Posted by Rorie (5781 posts) -

Dat's no good!

Despite releasing a major update on December 21st, the player numbers only spiked for around a week before returning to similar levels. This update added the ability for players to level up their account and receive rewards, including card packs for free. Evidently though, the game has more serious issues at play than just progression – such as the $19.99 / £15.99 entry fee, market based monetization approach resulting in a strong ‘Pay To Win’ feel, RNG heavy gameplay elements and the game’s long drawn out matches.

That kind of all matches the scuttlebutt that I've heard; I haven't tried it myself but I've definitely seen complaints that the RNG stuff can make for big shifts in victory likelihoods despite one player being "better." I haven't tried it myself but I'm guessing it'll go free-to-play or at least something I could spend 5 bucks on and get a few hours out of at some point. $20 is too much for a game that has mixed reviews still.

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#2 Edited by ArbitraryWater (15715 posts) -

Even with how negative people seem to be on Artifact's pricing model, I still find the catastrophic drop in numbers surprising. It sounded like people were pretty positive on the card game itself, but yeah, I have to imagine an abundance of RNG kills long-term competitive play.

It probably doesn't help that Magic the Gathering Arena came out in open beta last year. Putting your collectible card game made by the Magic the Gathering guy up against (by most accounts) the Free-to-Play online version of Magic people have wanted for years seems like a tough fight. Even for Valve.

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#4 Posted by chaser324 (8651 posts) -

I got the game for free (part of a make good from some issues with the first gen Steam Link), and I'm glad that I didn't put $20 into it.

The card game itself has potential, but the lack of any progression outside of just paying more money makes it tough to stick with in the same way as Hearthstone.

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#5 Edited by NeoCalypso (755 posts) -

The card game itself has potential, but the lack of any progression outside of just paying more money makes it tough to stick with in the same way as Hearthstone.

Er..is that actually the case though? Rorie's post clearly says they added progression and potential for free packs back in December.

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#6 Edited by chaser324 (8651 posts) -

@neocalypso: Ah...I wasn't even aware that they added all of that. I uninstalled the game about a week after its initial release and never looked back.

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#7 Edited by mellotronrules (2609 posts) -

i've never been really sure who the game is aimed at. people who are deep in the card game probably aren't going to jump ship from their current game of choice for a $20 buy-in; the dota aesthetic/set dressing presumably appeals to dota players, but they're too busy playing dota- and me, a guy who doesn't play dota and but likes M:TG and hearthstone...i'd probably rather just play those last two than blow the $20 for artifact.

and for folks who have no on-ramp- i have no idea why they'd check this game out.

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#8 Edited by SirPsychoSexy (1644 posts) -

As someone who was excited for this game and put in 40 hours the first week it came out it has been very disappointing. I don't think the payment model is bad. I haven't looked much at the progression stuff either. At the end of the day I just didn't want to play it anymore. The game just isn't very satisfying and stopped being fun after the initial excitement wore off. Even in draft mode it felt like all the games would play out very similarly.

Back when I played a lot of hearthstone I felt like their were so many satisfying moments within each game (bar getting rushed down by aggro with a shit hand) and it was exciting building very different types of decks to try out. In Artifact, regardless of the colors you are playing, almost all of the strategy seemed to come down to hero placement and blinking/teleporting in and out of certain lanes at the correct time. You can say that is too simplified a viewpoint, but I don't think it is. That is the biggest factor in every single game no matter what and frankly it is boring af.

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#9 Posted by Fear_the_Booboo (1083 posts) -

I don’t think it’s the only reason the game ain’t working well, but the progression they added is laughable compared to what you get from similar game on the market. You can get three packs a week, that’s about it.

At the end of the day creating an OK deck is not that expensive, but you lose all the fun of creating the deck yourself by going on the marketplace and just paying for it. In hearthstone I could manage with decks I created with only free packs. Obviously they weren’t the best, but I still could play OK.

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#10 Posted by Sweep (10595 posts) -

Back when I wrote a blog last September voicing my concerns about the pricing/monetization structure of artifact I got some pretty indignant kickback from people informing me that monetization in a TCG was par for the course and that there was nothing wrong with the way Artifact was being structured. I'd be genuinely interested to know how many of those people are still playing and to know if they still feel the same way.

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#11 Posted by Barrock (4136 posts) -

I got the game for free (part of a make good from some issues with the first gen Steam Link), and I'm glad that I didn't put $20 into it.

The card game itself has potential, but the lack of any progression outside of just paying more money makes it tough to stick with in the same way as Hearthstone.

What were the issues with the first gen steam link?

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#12 Posted by Ares42 (4359 posts) -

@neocalypso: It's not.The game itself has many issues, but the big one is that it has no major appeal. If you listen to the people who are enjoying it the most common reply would be "it's so complicated" or something similar. But that isn't exactly a feature that sells copies. I said this long before the game came out, I just don't see the appeal. It's got bland cards with bland mechanics and bland features. It's cute and tries to do some interesting stuff, but trying to make a good argument for playing the game in contrast to all the ones you can make for not playing it is very hard. The most successful one is probably "it's not Hearthstone", drawing in the people who wanted a fresh card game, but not being something is about as interesting as being nothing.

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#13 Posted by chaser324 (8651 posts) -

@barrock: The Steam Link didn't work with Mac when it was initially released.

I never had any intent to use it with a Mac, but I had logged into Steam a few times from my MacBook Air which was enough to qualify me for the compensation offered - the Valve complete pack (all current and future Valve releases).

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#14 Posted by Kingloo (105 posts) -

Valve is a company that could really benefit from a good kick in the teeth, to set them back on track. Remind them that they have to actually earn players. Maybe this will serve as such.

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#15 Posted by Bollard (8175 posts) -
@sweep said:

Back when I wrote a blog last September voicing my concerns about the pricing/monetization structure of artifact I got some pretty indignant kickback from people informing me that monetization in a TCG was par for the course and that there was nothing wrong with the way Artifact was being structured. I'd be genuinely interested to know how many of those people are still playing and to know if they still feel the same way.

The economy is still one of the best things about the game. You can buy a complete collection right now (1x every hero and 3x every card) for less than $100. The game has infinite free drafts - which is also the best game mode.

The reason its dying is a combination incredibly long (and mentally draining) matches make it hard to play more than a handful of games in a row and the way the prize based modes are designed in such a way you can never do well in them. The problem with the prize modes is that A) you have to pay real money to get tickets play them, and B) you have to get a 3-2 record to break even on where you started. This just leads to the worst players losing all their tokens and leaving the game, which then makes the slightly above average players the new worst players and the cycle continues.

On top of that, because there is only one set at the moment the Constructed mode is incredibly unvaried. People think it's because of bad game design but really it's just that the card pool is too small for more than 2-3 top tier decks to really be viable. At the very least this is something that can improve once new expansions come out.

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#16 Posted by Sweep (10595 posts) -

@bollard: Interesting. The article quoted in the OP makes it seem like the pricing structure is the primary reason so many players are growing tired of the game, but it sounds like that's not really the core issue.

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#17 Posted by Bollard (8175 posts) -

@sweep said:

@bollard: Interesting. The article quoted in the OP makes it seem like the pricing structure is the primary reason so many players are growing tired of the game, but it sounds like that's not really the core issue.

It's possible you could link the prize modes being behind paid tickets as part of the pricing structure I suppose. I would say browse the subreddit if you want to see more of what the community thinks are the issues with the game right now, but on second thought definitely don't browse the subreddit. The incredibly toxic community around the game isn't helping much either.

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#18 Posted by Alias (47 posts) -
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#19 Posted by Christophicus (4 posts) -

Who cares? As long as there are enough players to keep the matchmaking working, let the people who like the game enjoy it. Stop singing songs of it's death.

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#20 Posted by ChaosOrdeal (77 posts) -

I guess I wonder why anyone cares. Because it's a Valve game? A regressive pricing model for yet another Magic: the Gathering knockoff kills an uninspired game. So what? Games die every day. Do you have any clue how many real life card games died in the aftermath of M:tG's initial success?

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#21 Posted by MarekkPie (126 posts) -

@christophicus: If it was a single player game, or even a multiplayer game that could stay relatively static and still keep people, then sure. But most TCGs rely on a steady stream of expansions and new cards, and no company is going to put in the development resources for a small, dedicated fanbase for long.

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#22 Posted by Christophicus (4 posts) -

@christophicus: If it was a single player game, or even a multiplayer game that could stay relatively static and still keep people, then sure. But most TCGs rely on a steady stream of expansions and new cards, and no company is going to put in the development resources for a small, dedicated fanbase for long.

Fair point regarding TCGs requiring new content to really keep going. Of anyone however, Valve are one of the companies best positioned to turn around a dud launch. They've done it before don't forget (CS:GO, although admittedly it didn't do as poorly as this). There are some extremely clear and obvious changes that they can make the game that'll get plenty of players back in and giving it a fair chance. And Valve can afford to make them.

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#23 Posted by Genessee (445 posts) -

I like how Dota Chess is eating up this NEW VALVE GAME like has been demanded yet it funnels people right back into the Steam ecosystem proving that system's worth anyways.

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#24 Posted by devise22 (736 posts) -

I was instantly thrown off by the pricing model. To that credit same as MTG Arena, but MTG Arena will probably still do fine because it's such a beloved card game with history and people seem to like the new sets. That said I'm sort of surprised to hear this huge dip. It seemed like a very dense game, with a harsh pricing model so I guess the community just backlashed? I figured for sure with the DOTA characters/skin stuff that it would at least carry some weight past the first few months.

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#25 Edited by tunaburn (2081 posts) -

As someone who has played nearly all CCG's and TCG's I of course dove into artifact. The pricing was nothing compared to what I was used to. It was much cheaper. Now that most people have left you can get the entire set for under $100. But the gameplay... the gameplay itself feels so bland and tedious. The cards are almost all boring just adding stats to heroes. The big tournament that just ended had nearly everyone running the same decks. The RNG feels awful in artifact. Probably because of how long the games are so when you do get hit with bad RNG you really feel like you wasted so much time. The "progression" is nothing. Its just a counter showing how much you play. Losing doesnt take anything away and you gain nothing from moving up ranks. The only thing you gain are up to 10 packs as you level up your account. Which is the slowest fucking grind of all time except for the once a week bonus for getting 3 wins. I havent touched it in a week.

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#26 Posted by gamer_152 (14762 posts) -

From what people are saying, it seems like the game is really poorly designed right now and that Valve would have to make some very fundamental changes to turn it around, but I do still find it hard to believe that that pricing model isn't playing some role. I get that buying up a good deck in Artifact is cheaper than in a lot of physical TCGs, but I think it would be a mistake to just view this as a TCG. It's also a video game and I think a lot of people are going to weigh the cost of getting into this game competitively against the far cheaper cost of other competitive games online, including the virtual TCGs out there. And while Magic may be able to command a lot of money for their cards, it's a very established name with a large existing community. Valve. on the other hand, are trying to get Artifact off the ground for the first time and are doing it against some serious competition. I think for many players "Chuck in $80 for an unproven TCG with a bunch of bad word-of-mouth when there are proven alternatives out there" is a pretty weak proposition. I don't think it's a coincidence that a lot of successful competitive games out there right now started more or less free.

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#27 Edited by Jesus_Phish (3878 posts) -

@sweep: Getting a full playset is behind going to the marketplace, which is fine, but people are probably just put off initially by the $20 investment.

I play a game called Netrunner (RIP) - which you pay an initial investment of about $30 to buy a core set. After that they release packs of fixed cards at about $15. Everyone who buys that pack gets the same cards. The idea is that everyone knows what they're getting and everyone has a complete collection, instead of the way MtG and other TCGs work by having cards be random in the pack. Netrunner was popular enough, but not MtG or Yugioh levels of popular and to be entirely honest with you I think it's for part of the same reasons that @bollard mentioned. Netrunner is an incredibly mentally taxing game. Rounds can take up to an hour to play. In tournament structures you a round is 75 minutes and you're aiming to fit two games into it as both players are trying to play two decks.

To me the idea that I can pay $120 and have all the possible cards I could need sounds great. But to all my CCG friends it sounds terrible. They asked the following questions to me when I told them about Netrunner's model

  • How do you play draft?
  • Whats the point of playing draft if I own all the cards?
  • Whats the prize support?

In MtG, prize support is usually extra packs of cards if you're doing local shop events like pre-releases or Friday Night Magic. At the pro-level and aspiring pro-level you can win money. Even if you're not winning money, people who win the extra packs of cards can turn those cards into money depending on what they open, because some cards can go for upwards of $100. So if you're that kind of player who needs a reward from their card game, what do you get out of Artifact? You can buy all the cards for $100. You can buy into draft, which will earn you cards, which you don't need and which don't have any sort of real value of the market place to make it worth your time.

Explaining to some MtG players that we all played Netrunner for the love of the game and that prize support was usually just alternate art cards was impossible at times.

Final point - the RNG is what ultimately killed my interest in this (and also Heartstone). RNG beyond deck shuffling doesn't belong in these sorts of card games and it's only made worse when it's a digital game because RNG is easier for them to do in a digital format.

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#28 Posted by CheapPoison (1127 posts) -

@gamer_152: The pricing model is certainly an issue for some, if not most. Some people are singing the games praises while blaming the monetization, while the core game is obviously deeply flawed in not one but numerous ways. People just aren't having fun, if they were things wouldn't look this dire.