Artifact has been on life-support for a while, but Valve might have already pulled the plug - the game's players just might not know it yet. A recent report detailing the events following the game's release has illustrated several troubling signs from the would-be card game contender, and Artifact's dwindling player base has nothing to go on that suggests anything but the worst case scenario.
Artifact was supposed to be a game-changing trading card game release, a rival for Hearthstone and Wizards of the Coast's Magic Arena. The game received favorable reviews, too, even though its payment system immediately came under fire. Charging players for the game's base, alongside access to packs, tournaments, and more, quickly turned off many who had grown accustomed to the more free-to-play friendly offerings from competitors. In January, Artifact's future looked grim, but Valve still had time to address the game's issues and reassure its playerbase.
Instead, Valve has remained silent on the topic of Artifact for months as the game continues to spiral further into obscurity. Valve's official Artifact Twitter account hasn't tweeted since late December, and there have been no updates regarding content or adjustments despite the complaints of many players who have since left the title for greener pastures. A report from Kotaku neatly outlined the many issues the game currently faces, including a patch released on January 28 that promised fans Valve was still in it "for the long haul," despite no new information coming after that.
The slow decay of what's left of the Artifact community has been fueled by the lack of transparency from the publisher, an issue that is quickly becoming Valve's MO. Even the most dedicated players are beginning to leave - one user simply posted "plz send a sign" in the game's forums before departing, citing the lack of information from Valve as a major concern regarding the game's future.
There are some promises Valve made that players should remain adamant about the company keeping, too. Part of the game's sales pitch was that it would host a million dollar tournament shortly after Artifact's release, scheduled for early 2019. Valve reiterated that promise following the game's launch, but has been eerily quiet about it ever since. Whether that tournament is still being planned, even with a player base that has plummeted over 97% of its initial count, remains anyone's guess.
Even if that tournament is canceled, though, at this point Artifact's players just want updates. For a game that many people sunk a fair bit of money into, this kind of player experience is wholly unprofessional on Valve's part. Owning the failure of Artifact or doubling down to try to make it work - perhaps with a free-to-play model - are the only two acceptable options from a publisher with more than enough experience to know better than to treat even a small, dedicated player base like what's left of Artifact's this way. So far, though, Artifact's players just don't know what's going on, and it seems that will be the case for the foreseeable future.