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Old 11-18-2018, 03:14 AM
SenorBeef SenorBeef is online now
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Artifact - Valve's new DOTA-themed collectable card game, is incredibly greedy

Artifact is an upcoming collectable card game based on the DOTA 2 moba. It's meant to compete with the likes of Hearthstone, Gwent, Eternal, Duelyst, Shadowverse, Faeria, and probably a dozen others. They're computerized versions of games like Magic: The Gathering, except you only own your cards virtually.

All the online collectable card games can be played for free. Typically they'll start you out with enough basic standard cards to construct basic decks. You can additionally buy packs with real money to expand your collection faster, but they're still fun and viable to play for free. All of them that I'm familiar with allow you to earn in-game currency on which to spend on packs by playing the game. Buying packs just increases the rate at which you earn cards, and can therefore put more decks together.

Hearthstone is the industry leader in the market and makes a ridiculous amount of money, well over a billion dollars to this point, despite being viable to play for free. All the games that came after hearthstone chasing that market are actually more consumer-friendly than hearthstone is, giving you more free stuff and easier progression/card gain.

Now we have Artifact. Artifact can't be played for free, you have to pay $20 up front to buy the game. So it must work differently from all those F2P games, right? So it must be different in some way from those other free to play games, giving you some sort of extra value for buying it? No, it's just a barrier to entry. You essentially have to buy 10 packs up front (at $2 each) to be able to even try the game.

Okay, so you pay your $20, but then you could keep playing from there, earning more card packs as you go, so you could treat it as $20-to-play instead of free-to-play, right? No. You cannot earn in-game currency or card packs through play, unlike every other game of this type. You have to pay for every card you get.

Okay, so you can buy your card packs for $2, and that, and the basic starter decks, are all you'll ever get for cards. Oh, wait, there's a dickish catch. The basic cards you get when you buy the game can be card rewards in the card packs you pay for. Everyone already owns these cards as part of buying the game in the first place, which means that you have a chance of paying $2 for a pack and opening cards that are worthless because everyone already owns them. There's no reason game-wise to do this, except to randomly fill people's paid card packs with worthless cards.

You can't trade your cards with other players, because you're able to sell them on the steam marketplace where valve takes their 10% cut on every transaction - anytime you sell anything, it comes back to you in the form of steam wallet cash, not real cash, keeping that money in Valve's hands. So not only do they get all the money because every dollar put into a steam wallet is converted from cash to store credit, but they also charge a fee on every transaction on top of that.

Okay, fine. So that's it, right? No, it gets worse.

So now after you've paid for the game, and paid for all your cards, surely you can play the game as much as you want for free, right? Not so fast!

You can play with your cards in one of the many game modes - only casual preconstructed. To play in any competitive mode, or any of the draft modes, requires you to pay between $1 and $12 per run. I'm not exactly clear how this will work, but it does give rewards like arena runs in hearthstone. But still - only one mode out of many can be played without paying real money every time you want to play the game.

I've always been a pretty big fan of Valve, but this is a complete shit show. Ironically, the game this is themed after, DOTA 2, has what is probably the best free to play model in the industry - the game and all its content and heroes are completely free, you only pay for cosmetics. And now they want to take that and apply its theming to a ridiculously over-monetized game, which is quite a contrast.

Yes, Valve has been one of the pioneers of lootbox based monetization, but in previous games it has always been purely cosmetic and hasn't disrupted the core gameplay. Valve has always been fairly generous (free TF2, free DOTA 2, $15 CSGO).... never any nickel and diming just to play the game.

I was interested in trying it before I knew about the monetization - now I literally can't even try it because of the $20 price of entry, which can't be refunded because of the consumable packs you get upon buying the game. But now I hope it backfires hard and throws a ton of hate their way. This is disgusting.
  #2  
Old 11-18-2018, 03:36 AM
SenorBeef SenorBeef is online now
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I'd like to add that I haven't looked too deeply so I may be wrong on some of the details, like that only one more will be available to play without a per-match charge. I'm largely just collecting and explaining a lot of the complaints about the community.

Of all the complaints, the one where you have no path to ever earn free cards or free draft runs is the most damning one. Every other computer CCG gives you a way to earn cards and play the game without paying for every single thing - this one doesn't.
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Old 11-18-2018, 04:03 AM
nightshadea nightshadea is online now
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they just borrowed konami's yu gi oh online model where you paid a certain amount for so many games and yeah you won cards but once the card shop was established that's where the good cards were ……..and you paid for the cards using a premium gem like in mobile games …...

Last edited by nightshadea; 11-18-2018 at 04:04 AM.
  #4  
Old 11-18-2018, 09:02 AM
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It's basically the MTG model on PC, which is weird since MTG doesn't even use the MTG model on PC.

It's not for me, but it'll be pretty interesting to see how it plays out since it allows a card economy to exist. Hope the game forces people to enable two-factor authorization.

It's a shame Duelyst had 240p graphics. It seemed like the most interesting one by a good margin.
  #5  
Old 11-18-2018, 09:06 AM
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I'm curious to see whether folks find this game worth their gaming money.

As (nearly) always, I see no moral component in the various approaches game companies use to trying to get our money, just better or worse business decisions. What you describe doesn't sound worth my money at all, but then, neither do the approaches taken by 90% of gaming companies. Which is totally fine.

Do you predict this will crash and burn, or do you think there'll be enough folks who enjoy this approach that it'll make money?
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Old 11-18-2018, 09:22 AM
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I was interested in this, but there's no way I'm going to get involved for that cost.
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Old 11-18-2018, 09:43 AM
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Here is the FAQ.

As Palooka says above, it's the MtG model on PC - you pay for every card you get, and you can enter tournaments to win packs, but you have to pay to do so. In some draft modes( Keeper Drafts), you get to keep the cards you draft, which is why they cost more.

So, your initial purchase buys the starter sets everyone gets, and 10 packs - another 120 cards, including at least 10 of the highest rarity (one from each pack).

You also get 5 event tickets to enter the prize Gauntlets, and if you progress in the Gauntlet, you get your ticket back (if you win 3 before you lose twice, you get it back. Further wins get you card packs).

It's not actually as terrible as I first thought, but the "buy every card" philosophy sets them against every other ccg-type game out there, including behemoths like Hearthstone and MtG Online. Computer players aren't used to paying like that. They clearly think there's something to this, and it'll be interesting to see how it goes.

I won't be buying in though.
  #8  
Old 11-18-2018, 10:25 AM
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From what I’ve seen Artifact is far too complicated to gain and maintain a large number of players. It appears to really be aimed at highly competitive players – MTG pros and the like. It might be a good game for those people but it will not be able to attract and hold a large number of casual players.

I expect there to be an initial rush of interest with quite a few Hearthstone streamers giving it a shot but I also expect interest to very quickly drop off as the streamers begin losing viewers due to the complicated nature of the game; it’s simply not a ‘fun’ game to watch. Without large numbers of casual players I don’t think the money will be available to hold the interest of the pro players.

Flash in the pan – I won’t be bothering with it.

Last edited by Turble; 11-18-2018 at 10:26 AM.
  #9  
Old 11-18-2018, 01:16 PM
SenorBeef SenorBeef is online now
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Left Hand of Dorkness View Post
Do you predict this will crash and burn, or do you think there'll be enough folks who enjoy this approach that it'll make money?
My guess is that it won't ever be anywhere near as big as hearthstone, probably not even close to halfway. Because of the excessive monetization and how cheap it is to create a CCG, it could definitely be profitable if they have a small but financially dedicated user base. It would be difficult to fail so hard it didn't make a profit, but I think it won't meet expectations. But it won't be a huge hit.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Turble View Post
I expect there to be an initial rush of interest with quite a few Hearthstone streamers giving it a shot but I also expect interest to very quickly drop off as the streamers begin losing viewers due to the complicated nature of the game; it’s simply not a ‘fun’ game to watch. Without large numbers of casual players I don’t think the money will be available to hold the interest of the pro players.
One of the big hearthstone streamers agrees that it's not good for streaming.

Last edited by SenorBeef; 11-18-2018 at 01:18 PM.
  #10  
Old 11-19-2018, 11:53 AM
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Valve have made some changes.

This means there is now a free draft mode (although you won't get to keep your drafted cards), and they've introduced a way to "dust" unwanted cards to craft event tickets.

They haven't fixed the "pay money for all your cards" thing as far as I can tell - and they probably won't, I suspect its a philosophy of the game thing. I'd be *astonished* if they later introduced a way to get cards for free, because they will just piss off the people who *have* invested.

They also haven't fixed the "unable to trade cards outside of steam marketplace" thing, but that's the sort of thing they *could* change. Doesn't mean they will.

I've seen more of the game.

kinda want to play it now
  #11  
Old 11-19-2018, 02:48 PM
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What seems lost on Artifact is Magic Online (not Arena but the original) could use that business model because:

1. It was a port of a well established, successful game

and

2. It was trying to replicate the cardboard experience as closely as possible.

Artifact is doing nether and it seems like a bad move to do it this way.

It also sounds like they hope the lure of high payout tournaments will get people to shell out money to play and get better at the game. Maybe that will work.
  #12  
Old 11-29-2018, 01:43 PM
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Game launched yesterday. Peaked at 60k players. I'm guessing that's a disappointment but I don't really know what they projected. If it was a normal valve release (say, portal 3) it'd probably have a million+ simultaneous players on day 1 easily. But obviously this is more niche. And I'm guessing Hearthstone has had more than 60k simultaneous players basically constantly for years. So in that context, it seems like a disappointment. But if the players they have are throwing lots of money at the game, I'm sure it's still profitable.

Last edited by SenorBeef; 11-29-2018 at 01:43 PM.
  #13  
Old 11-29-2018, 02:11 PM
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Actually, is there such a thing as a "normal Valve release" any more? I thought that they'd gotten out of making their own games entirely, to focus on being a platform for other people's games. Which, incidentally, they've been doing a very good job at, and making a lot of money without pissing off very many people.
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Old 11-30-2018, 02:52 AM
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I am right in their target for this game - I played Magic in the mid 90s, I spend a fair amount on computer games, and I've got a few friends who are looking for a new game to play amongst ourselves. None of us have yet bought into this.

I'm tempted - it looks like a decent game underneath - but there's already a few "meta" decks for constructed, and they pretty much have a price tag on them.

The fact that you can't actually trade cards among your friends is a pretty big negative in my group - you have no choice but to go through the marketplace.

I'm keeping an eye on it, and if a couple of my friends buy I probably will. But I won't be the first to get it.
  #15  
Old 11-30-2018, 03:02 AM
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This game is aimed at the CCG market. The developers probably figured it was safe to assume there were potential customers willing to spend money in a reckless fashion.
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Old 11-30-2018, 07:36 AM
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But the people who are already playing CCGs already have games that they play, and there are real (i.e., monetary) barriers to switching from one game to another. If I'm in the mood for playing some Magic: the Gathering, then I'll play Magic: the Gathering. I won't duplicate my extensive investment into the game to play some other game that's sort of like it.

The market is people who would like CCGs, except for some reason have never gotten too deeply into any of them yet. I'm not sure how big that market is, now.
  #17  
Old 11-30-2018, 09:06 AM
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Quote:
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The market is people who would like CCGs, except for some reason have never gotten too deeply into any of them yet. I'm not sure how big that market is, now.
Probably even less for a game like Artifact which doesn't sound especially flashy or casual in the same way that Hearthstone is. I'll admit that I haven't played Artifact but what I've read makes it sound drier and more complex which could be great if you're already familiar with the genre but perhaps not a great entry point.

On the other hand, it has Valve behind it so it'll probably be successful in some measure or another.
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Old 11-30-2018, 01:38 PM
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If I’m going to get into a deck building game that requires me to buy all my cards, I’m going to want to have actual cards in my hands. I don’t get going through all the time and expense to get cards that aren’t real.
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Old 11-30-2018, 03:52 PM
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If Iím going to get into a deck building game that requires me to buy all my cards, Iím going to want to have actual cards in my hands. I donít get going through all the time and expense to get cards that arenít real.
I could see it if you have some combination of (a) not having much of a local CCG scene to play in, (b) being tired of the M:tG cash churn as cards regularly go out of standard legal play and need replacing and/or (c) just being tired of M:tG in general since it's often the only game in town (guess you could haunt Pokemon tournaments).

Artifact cards do have some slight "real world" value in that they can be sold on Steam for credit there, then used to buy PC games or whatever. Not as good as being able to actually cash out but at least it's something.

All that said, I don't have any interest in playing the game. My CCG bug gets scratched by playing my old Duel of the Planeswalkers 2013/14/15 versions and messing around with Faeria. Keeps me from going down the M:tG rabbit hole any more times.
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Old 11-30-2018, 05:00 PM
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If anyone has played it, is the game fun? Just reading how you lay seems exhausting. I don't mind complex games but this sounds like you are playing three games of Magic the Gathering from the Time Spiral era simultaneously. I think Younger Me would have loved that but Me Me not so much.
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Old 12-03-2018, 02:40 AM
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The numbers haven't fallen off too much but that just can't be what they were hoping for. I wonder how much the average person has paid in.
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Old 12-03-2018, 01:38 PM
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Just took a peek at the action on Twitch. Gaara (a Tempo Storm pro and usually a Hearthstone streamer) is:
Constructed - Current Score: 66-7

Looks like another major stumbling block toward gaining and retaining new players. I donít know much about the game at all but that appears to mean that those with experience will be totally crushing the newcomers; probably not enough luck in the game to keep potential whales coming back except for a handful of pros who've been playing since Beta first started.
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Old 12-08-2018, 05:59 PM
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Well, it's a failure. 24 hour peaks are under 20000 after a week. This is definitely not the direction that a successful tcg/ccg goes.
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Old 12-09-2018, 09:37 AM
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Twitch viewers have dropped precipitously. They peaked at 60,000 the day after release – last night there were 1,700.
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Old 12-09-2018, 09:48 AM
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It doesn't seem to be an interesting game to watch. It looks like an interesting game to me, but I'm certainly not buying in now. And I don't watch other people play anything on Twitch.
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Old 12-09-2018, 10:40 AM
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Something else I found interesting is this isn't even Richard Garfield's only new recent release. He also has a game called Keyforge that just came out. I would think he would want to focus in one or the other.
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Old 12-09-2018, 12:49 PM
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Oh, this was Garfield, too?
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Old 12-10-2018, 01:59 PM
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Oh, this was Garfield, too?
It is indeed.
  #29  
Old 12-14-2018, 05:41 PM
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Something else I found interesting is this isn't even Richard Garfield's only new recent release. He also has a game called Keyforge that just came out. I would think he would want to focus in one or the other.
My impression is that Garfield has more game ideas than time to implement them, so he definitely does not focus on one thing for very long.
  #30  
Old 01-11-2019, 09:49 AM
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Looks like this game is dying. Only 2200 players after a couple of months is not good.
  #31  
Old 01-11-2019, 09:54 AM
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Yeah, it's doing about as badly as a dota-themed valve-published game could do, I think.

I'm curious what numbers hearthstone pulls, to compare to what a wildly successful card game does. I know they say millions of players, but Blizzard will fudge their numbers all the time if they want. I believe it to be extremely profitable though, at one point it was in the top 10 of all digital purchase games on all platforms in its first year, and I think it grew for at least the first 2-3 years.
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Old 01-11-2019, 10:03 AM
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You have to be careful in how you count number of players for Hearthstone, as the base game is free. I downloaded, installed, and tried it out, and then decided that it wasn't for me and quit, without ever spending any money on it. Anyone who wanted to make the numbers look impressive could pick a standard which would include me, but any real reflection of how popular the game actually is wouldn't.
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Old 01-11-2019, 10:10 AM
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Oh definitely. The thing I'd want to compare would be concurrent player count, which I've always been curious about. You could compare gross revenues, too, but hearthstone would crush it there - it made 416m in 2017 apparently.
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