Whether or not you follow the DOTA 2 competitive scene, it’s hard to miss The International. It’s basically like if the NFL playoffs and Super Bowl took place over the course of a few days and had a $25M prize pool. The entire thing is streamed on Twitch, but better yet, they’ve got a secondary newcomer stream which focuses less on the top-tier metagame strategies and more on the basics of the game. With an audience of hundreds of thousands of people watching, Valve just nonchalantly teased a new game they’re releasing next year. It’s not Half-Life 3, Portal 3, Left for Dead 3, or a sequel to any series that people would lose their minds over… Instead, it’s a DOTA-centric card game called Artifact.
It’s hard to not be at least a little disappointed, as Valve is a legendary developer responsible for some of the greatest franchises of all time. Valve releasing yet another fantasy-based presumably free to play digital collectable card game seems… Well, really boring. We’ve got Hearthstone (Free), The Elder Scrolls: Legends (Free), Gwent, whatever Wizards of the Coast is working on with Magic, and tons more smaller digital CCG’s. Does the world need another one?
The one interesting thing here is that it seems likely that Artifact will be released on mobile devices. If you look at the history of Hearthstone, it was a popular game on PC… But being released on mobile phones was really what blasted the game into its current popularity. The Elder Scrolls: Legends seems to be on a similar trajectory, and I have no doubts Gwent will also do fairly well once its mobile client materializes. Put simply, it’d be odd if Artifact eventually didn’t hit the App Store.
VALVE SHOCKS THE WORLD
Announces a new project that combines as many proven money-making techniques into one glossy, branded package.
— Jason Imms (@jasonimms) August 9, 2017
If you don’t spend a lot of time playing PC games on Steam, one area where Artifact could potentially pull ahead of other card games is by leaning heavily on the Steam Marketplace. In a nutshell, Valve has an unbelievable vibrant economy of in-game items that you can buy and sell for real money. It’s equal parts unbelievably stupid and ridiculously compelling, and that’s coming from someone who has bought more Counter-Strike gun skins than I’d care to admit and has made a silly amount of money on this dumb bandana. If you can sell or trade cards in Artifact on the Steam Marketplace… Well, that would be pretty interesting.
Per the teaser, Artifact isn’t due out until 2018, but I’m fairly certain Valve will keep us hungry with a constant drip of information between now and the game’s final release.