Valve cuts ties with lead designer of Artifact

Lead designer of troubled Valve digital card game Artifact Richard Garfield was laid off last month, with Garfield attributing termination to a “rocky launch” of the Dota themed title.

Released in November 2018, Artifact received little traction within the PC gaming crowd, primarily due to Dota fans being disappointed at the games card-based gameplay and developer Valve’s abandonment of franchises such as Half-Life and Left 4 Dead, to capitalise on the popularity of card games.

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Garfield was previously known to be one of 13 Valve employees, including fellow Magic The Gathering creator Skaff Elias, who were laid off in February after joining the company four years ago for the purpose of developing Artifact. Garfield said of the development team to Artibuff: ‘‘The team was enthusiastic about the game and were confident that they had a good product but it became clear it wasn’t going to be easy to get the game to where we wanted it”.

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Despite favourable critic reviews at launch, with positive comparisons to Blizzard Entertainment’s similar card game Hearthstone and CD Projekt Red’s Witcher themed title Gwent, Artifact quickly shed 95% of its player base (60,000-1,500) within two months, and social media accounts for the game went silent in December.

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Garfield stated: “The layoff makes sense for a number of reasons. To name a couple; now that the game is out there time is more critical, so more voices within the team that you have to navigate may not be as good as making less considered decisions faster. Another – the expertise that Three Donkeys brought is less critical after listening to us for four-plus years.’’  

Despite these developments, Garfield claims he is still optimistic for the game’s success, and will continue to advise Valve on Artifact’s continuation.

Phillip Gallagher

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