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Steam’s Top 100 most-played games of 2018 was released this week (H/T Reddit) and Valve’s own card battle game, Artifact, didn’t manage to break into that list. Artifact has been making waves for all the wrong reasons since launching in November last year as players were left disappointed by the game’s lack of replayability.
According to SteamCharts, Artifact boasted a fairly hefty player base on its release day, with just over 60,000 players recorded. Though by the end of December that number had dropped significantly, with 3,103 recorded on December 31. And the game hasn’t managed to record more than 10,000 players at once since December 21.
The numbers mean that Artifact has been beaten by Devolver Digital’s survival game Scum, Jurassic World Evolution, and multi-platform space sim, No Man’s Sky. Artifact currently sits in the “Mixed” category in Steam, with many user reviews blasting the game for what they argue is a conscious effort to make players buy into the game’s many microtransactions, as one user writes that it’s“almost impossible to get new packs unless you grind like mad.”
Other players have been let down by a lack of progression in the game and the repetitive gameplay. Though other players have praised the game’s deep strategic approach to gameplay, while others have focused on Valve’s reaction to player feedback, with a string of updates introduced to combat some issues.
Artifact is the first foray into card battle games for Valve and it exists in a rather strange space for games. Because while the game offers an extraordinary amount of microtransactions, to the extent where players have argued that you can’t progress without spending money, you also have to pay for the game. Sitting at just over $15, many players see the move for Artifact to incorporate both an upfront price and in-game transactions as a move that’s simply greedy. Whether or not Valve will eventually revert Artifact to a free to play model though remains to be seen.