Valve no longer plans to continue development of its rebooted card battler Artifact, announcing via a blog today that its active player counts are too low to justify any further work on the game.
It's an unfortunate decision, but one that many developers often end up considering as the costs of maintaining, updating, and, in Artifact's case, improving an online game heavily outweigh the benefits of pushing forward on development.
For Artifact specifically, the journey from launch to today's announcement has been a difficult one. The game first launched as a Dota 2 flavored card battler back in late 2018 with a unique pricing structure for the genre. Despite itself being priced at $20, players would need to buy additional card packs for real-world cash to build the decks used in-game. Struggles with maintaining an active playerbase led Valve to essentially reboot the game last year as the Artifact 2.0 beta that is now itself being put to rest.
"It's now been about a year and a half since the current Artifact team began work on a reboot in earnest," writes Valve. "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."
Despite the end of development, neither Artifact 2.0, now known as Artifact Foundry, nor the original Artifact Classic are vanishing completely. Instead, Valve has made both games free to play for everyone, and removed any microtransactions from those free-to-play versions.
"We're grateful to all Artifact players, and particularly to those who were able to help us tune and refine what would become Artifact Foundry," adds Valve. "The team feels this is the approach that best serves the community. We're proud of the work we've done on both games and excited about delivering them to a much larger audience of gamers."