Ever since Valve announced the release of Artifact, there has been a massive amount of excitement building up among gamers. Valve slated Artifact to be the first true contender to Blizzard’s Hearthstone, the most popular title in the card collecting game genre.
Not only was Artifact set up for success due to Valve’s popularity, but they also based it on the incredibly popular Defense of the Ancients IP. So, there was no reason to expect anything other than massive success from this game.
So What Went Wrong?
The first notable mistake Valve made with Artifact was in their decision to charge $19.99 to gain access to the game. Yes, $20 sounds like a reasonable price for a video game when most people spend three times that for most new releases.
But the problem with charging for the game is the majority of card collecting games are free to play. Charging for a game when competing games are free isn’t necessarily a bad move, but the price tag isn’t the only flaw in Artifact’s monetization method.
The reason other card collecting games are free to play is that they require players to pay to open digital card packs. Since Artifact is not a free-to-play game, you may think you would have access to all the cards without spending extra money after your initial purchase. Unfortunately, this is where the problem lies. The monetization scheme Valve uses is essentially like buying a board game, only to find they sell most of the pieces separately.
Almost anyone would be upset in this situation, so, understandably gamers are upset about Artifact. This all sounds bad, but the distasteful business practices don’t end there. Once you buy the game and the cards, you have to pay even more money just to play the main game mode.
Each of these game monetization methods by themselves is not particularly uncommon. However, combining all these methods have led to many unhappy customers who feel like Valve is using them.
What Can Valve Do to Make Things Better?
The only way Valve will be able to salvage the situation is to change the way players have to pay for the game. The best way Valve could remedy this situation is to make Artifact free to play. Also, they need to reward those who have already paid for access to the game.
A few games have been in a situation like this in the past. And, the only way any of them survive is to try to earn back the player’s trust. Hopefully, Valve recognizes the need to change, so Artifact becomes the game everyone was expecting.