Valve's dead, ignored Artifact was recently resurrected on Twitch over the weekend by trolls to broadcast illicit content, leading to a necessary crackdown from Twitch moderation after the problem was discovered. Artifact has been a ghost town for most of its existence as a combination of difficult gameplay and exploitative payment systems ostracized most of the game's target demographic near-immediately, and was recently the butt of some streamers' jokes about how little activity the Artifact section of Twitch was seeing.
Artifact has been criticized for abandoning the game far too early by fans who enjoyed its content. We even gave Artifact a positive review, citing its deep mechanics as a rewarding draw to learning the game. Unfortunately, the cost associated with play was ill-informed at best and greedy at worst, and fans were quickly driven away by the huge cost of competitive play on Artifact. Since then, numerous reports have indicated that the game's playerbase is dwindling at an alarming rate, but Valve has gone completely silent on the subject—even the million-dollar Artifact tournament that had been advertised months in advance to the game's launch has been ignored, leading many to speculate that there's no one left working on the game.
Due to this, Artifact streams have been quiet for a while now, but a sudden flurry of livestreams about the subject popped up over Memorial Day weekend, according to Polygon. The problem? None of those streams featured the game itself, and were instead being broadcast by trolls who started new Twitch accounts to stream some of the worst content imaginable. Dozens of trolls streamed content ranging from pirated media, hentai, depictions of self-mutilation, racist videos, experimental memes, and even, despicably, the recent Christchurch, New Zealand terrorist attack. The streams took place over most of the long weekend, meaning this often-heinous content was available for days before Twitch finally addressed it on Tuesday, May 28, with the following statement:
"Over the weekend we became aware of a number of accounts targeting the ‘Artifact’ game directory to share content that grossly violates our terms of service,” Twitch said in a statement. “Our investigations uncovered that the majority of accounts that shared and viewed the content were automated accounts. We are working with urgency to remove the offending content and suspend all accounts engaged in this behavior.
In addition, we have temporarily suspended the ability for new creators to stream. We take these violations very seriously and are taking measures to prevent this kind of coordinated activity on our service in the future.”
Concerningly, despite these measures, Twitch's Artifact game page is still being bombarded with streams that don't involve the game whatsoever. While most of the problematic content is gone, strange memes have still begun cropping up with regularity, meaning that the suspension of new creators being able to stream has done little to curb the process beyond stopping the most outrageous trolls.
We’re very sorry for the inconvenience. The safety of our community is our top priority and we’re doing everything we can to restore all access as quickly as possible. We will provide an update when we’re able to do so.— Twitch Support (@TwitchSupport) May 28, 2019
The issue with the Artifact stream problem is one that is Twitch-wide. There are lots of categories on Twitch that have low populations of streamers, and all of them are apparently ripe for exploitation the same way that Artifact's channels were. Hopefully Twitch finds a way to address these issues soon, before more extreme trolls migrate to a new category and begin the process all over again.