Artifact is, for better and worse, shaping up to be a very Valve card game in that it’s a clever, complex re-imagining of DOTA 2—complete with lanes and heroes—but it’s also heavily tied into a real-money marketplace. In fact, there’s currently no way to earn new cards without spending at least a pinch of your hard-earned cash. Some fans aren’t pleased about that last part. In response, Valve is making some changes.
In a popular thread posted to the Artifact subreddit over the weekend, players complained about the game’s money-driven systems. “Here are the ways to get cards,” read the thread. “Pay 2 dollars for a card pack, pay for cards on the market, or play expert. Every time you play expert you have to spend a ticket, which is a dollar.”
On top of that, booster packs contain some cards all players receive in Artifact’s starter kit—meaning there’s a chance players won’t even get full bang for their buck each time they pick up a pack.
By contrast, Hearthstone, the most popular digital collectable card game by enough landslides to fill in the Grand Canyon, offers players a handful of ways to earn cards while playing—for example, by completing quests, earning in-game currency from regular matches, playing the weekly “Tavern Brawl” event, and competing in arena mode (which, admittedly, costs a small fee upfront and is pretty challenging).
Back in September, Valve’s Jeep Barnett and Magic The Gathering creator Richard Garfield explained that, as a result of Artifact’s “pay to participate” system, the game will contain “zero grinding,” putting it more in line with Magic than, say, Hearthstone. However, staying competitive in Magic can be prohibitively expensive for those who don’t have cash to burn, even with regular format changes levelling the playing field a little.
In response to “interest and excitement” around “certain features that weren’t available in the initial beta build,” Valve announced in a blog post yesterday that it’s going to open things up a little. Specifically, this means a friend-specific deck drafting mode, as well as a casual “phantom” draft mode. The latter will allow players to practise building and playing with decks from a series of booster packs without spending money.
Lastly, Valve is also working on “a system that allows extra, unwanted cards to be recycled into event tickets,” which will be out before the game’s beta ends on 28 November.