Just 2 weeks into release, it seems to the world that Artifact has not quite been the beast in the online collectable card genre everyone thought it would be. Released and published by a major powerhouse in Valve and based upon the hugely popular multiplayer online battle arena game, Dota 2, expectations were high for Artifact. With the support of Valve, its prominent feature on the Steam store and the introduction of a unique three ‘lane’ mechanic amongst other unique features, Artifact was poised to take the card game market by storm. However, just a week after release it has lost half its player base. Let’s take a look at what Artifact did right and where it went wrong.
First off, the most interesting and unique concept brought forward by Artifact – 3 Lanes. This changes the dynamic from what most card games have with only 1 lane. It splits your attention across 3 lanes and tests players on how they balance their resources, especially hero spawns, and how well they can track and play out 3 lanes at once. This definitely adds a new dynamic to the game and is a big plus.
Artifact also introduces the concept of heroes. With few unit cards besides the regular minion spawn, heroes and spells make up the bulk of controllable action for players. Having to decide where and when to use certain heroes, which lanes to invest your heroes in and how to utilize them to their maximum potential is a core part of what makes Artifact unique.
For fans of Dota 2, Artifact largely has a similar style in terms of art and concept. So if you love the grim, realism focused style of Dota, Artifact is likely to tick all the right boxes for you too.
While most games try to reduce the impact of RNG on the outcome of games. Artifact seems to encourage it most notably through random minion spawns and hero/ minion spawn placements.
Beyond random spawn placements which already makes a significant impact on the outcome of games – there is added RNG in the targeting system with cards having a 50% chance to attack straight and 25% chance to attack left or right respectively. So yes, there is a 50% chance of your card to miss it’s intended target even if it lands in the right spot.
With a $20 cost locking Artifact behind a paywall right from the start being a huge deterrence for interested players in the first place, Expert Play (the only mode that gives rewards) is also behind a paywall with additional plays beyond the first 5 tickets costing around a dollar each. To put that in Hearthstone terms, that is a dollar for each Arena run if you don’t get a ticket out of each run.
Artifact is coming into a stacked market with Hearthstone having an established presence in the market and with Magic: The Gathering Arena becoming a rising force in the online card game scene, especially with Wizards of the Coast investing 10 Million into both online and physical versions of the game. Artifact is going to have its work cut out for it to stay relevant in this scene.
So while Artifact comes into the market with some interesting ideas, it has many internal and external problems to face if it wants to become and stay a relevant part of the online card game scene.