“Artifact represents the largest discrepancy between our expectations for how one of our games would be received and the actual outcome,” the announcement reads. “It has become clear that there are deep-rooted issues with the game and that our original update strategy of releasing new features and cards would be insufficient to address them.”
Valve goes on to say that the Artifact team is going “heads-down” to focus on “addressing these larger issues instead of shipping updates.” It expects this process to take “a significant amount of time.” Other than the fact that Valve cut ties with the game’s principal designer earlier this month, little is known about who this remaining team is, or what their plans are for Artifact.
For context, Artifact — which launched last November — averaged just 358 concurrent players over the last 30 days, down from an average of more than 11,000 last December, according to Steam Charts. There were just 206 people playing the game as of press time. Meanwhile, Yu-Gi-Oh! Duel Links had a 30-day average of 7,003 concurrent players, with 8,441 playing as I’m writing this. Artifact is a game based on one of the most successful PC games of all time, designed by the man responsible for Magic: The Gathering, whereas Duel Links is based on a kid’s show where characters have names like “Pegasus J. Crawford.”
Which is not to say that Yu-Gi-Oh! doesn’t deserve success, or that you shouldn’t like it if you do. Rather that, by comparison, Artifact seemed like as sure a shot as sure shots get. And if it weren’t for Valve’s hubris in charging for what every other card game does for free, Artifact might’ve had enough of a player base to survive whatever restructuring Valve has in mind, if that even happens. I honestly don’t expect Valve to ever update Artifact again, or to even address it, because that’s how Valve does things.
This kind of failure would be catastrophic for almost any other developer, but since Valve owns Steam, and therefore makes millions of dollars every day without releasing new products or meaningful improvements to its service, it can eat however much money it spent on Artifact and move on to whatever the next thing is. This exact same thing happened with Steam Machines, SteamOS, PowerPlay, Steam on consoles, and that J. J. Abrams collab, just to name a few other initiatives that Valve quickly got bored of. When you’ve got unlimited resources and answer to no one, you’re free to throw as much money into as many holes as you want.
So! While I have a pretty good idea of which pit Valve will be chucking benjies into next, I’ve also taken the time to personally hand select a few alternatives for consideration. Hit me up, Gabe!
All the cool billionaires are working on ways to escape the upcoming collapse of global society through the guise of privatizing space travel, so why not spend a few hundred million dollars on some rockets or something? Maybe Valve could announce a big initiative to improve fuel consumption via artificial intelligence and then forget about it two years later.
Hell, why not? Valve could easily drop a couple dozen million dollars on re-inventing how humans live for no reason. Every aspect of your brand-new Steam House could be designed by an army of unpaid modders, from the big boob anime lady that lives in your fridge’s touchscreen, to the thermostat that can only be set to crowdsourced temperatures.
Valve hasn’t dipped its monetary toes into anything biotech related, at least as far as anyone knows, so now might be the perfect time for Gabe and Co. to get big into genetic engineering. Wasps that don’t sting; spiders with a more reasonable number of legs; maybe even june bugs that don’t constantly eat it — all of this and more could be possible through Valve’s quickly abandoned foray into bio-engineering.
A Dating App
Find out who on your Steam friends list secretly wants to bone down by signing up for Crankshaft, Valve’s soon-to-be forgotten dating platform. After a thorough vetting of your likes and dislikes by the Crankshaft Greenlight community, your Steam library is then used to generate a personality profile — if a match is found on your friends list, just pay $14.99 to find out who it is!
Oh God, this one is too real. Forget I said anything.