Valve announce Artifact, a Dota 2 spin-off card game

Valve last night announced Artifact, a new card game based on Dota 2. I can tell you that Artifact is coming in 2018 and sounds like it broadly simulates a game of Dota, with lanes to push and Dota heroes to command, but Valve haven’t shown anything concrete yet. For a company that often sets trends, this does seem curiously late – the world is hardly short of digital card games these days, and this isn’t even the first card game spun off from a MOBA (Smite Tactics springs to mind, for starters). But hey, I’m always interested in what Valve are up to and Artifact does sound quite different to the usual Magic: The Gathering ’em ups.

All Valve showed (and said, really) about Artifact was in this teaser trailer, revealed between matches at their Dota mega-tournament The International last night:

Wildly unhelpful.

Thankfully, host Sean ‘Day[9]’ Plott has played Artifact and gabbed a little on the stream:

“If you’ve played previous trading card games, it has a lot of similarities in terms of having creatures and spells that you cast onto the board but in this game, anything you see in Dota, it’s here.

“There’s not just one board but three boards. You control five heroes, deploy them among the different lanes, creeps spawn every turn, the heroes that you play in Dota, they’re in the game. You can play as Bounty Hunter and cast Track on an enemy hero, killing it gives you extra gold, use the gold to buy item cards, equip them to your heroes. And I gotta say, it’s a really cool experience because you really feel like the commander who’s allocating the various resources amongst this entire huge battlefield, moving from lane to lane.”

He continued a bit later:

“I will say it’s a very different experience from playing Dota, of course. […] In this game, there’s a lot of really interesting cards and behaviours. Like there’s these improvement cards where you can actually cast spells on the varying lanes and they continue to upkeep every single turn, so you can wind up like- I played a game where I was honestly getting my ass kicked in two of the lanes but I just kept building more barracks in the third, flooding my opponent with creeps.

“And it’s really nice because often card games can be very complex, and if you’ve played Dota, virtually any question you would have about how the game works, there’s a very clean and clear reference to Dota 2.”

So Artifact is a card game but like Dota but not like playing Dota.

37 Comments

  1. JustAPigeon says:

    The crowd’s reaction says it all: link to twitter.com

    • WombatDeath says:

      That’s absolutely brilliant. Made my evening, thank you.

  2. MrBehemoth says:

    Valve do seem to be good at crystal shaders. Maybe they should just run an asset store.

  3. gtdp says:

    New Valve game: “ooooh!”
    New Valve game is based on Dota: “oh…”
    New Valve game is a CCG based on Dota: “awwwww :(“

  4. Kitty says:

    Gotta cash in on the popular genres after all – so now Valve are making their own Hearthstone. They made DOTA 2 when MOBAs were big, and now Artifact. Is Valve just going to do that from now on?

    I guess in a few years we might see Gabe Newell’s Battlegrounds.

    • BooleanBob says:

      DOTA of course being one of the original MOBAs…

      Gosh, a lot of glum faces in this thread. Are we all so sick of CCGs already? I think it’ll be worth playing, at least just check out Valve’s take on the genre.

      They’ll be well aware that there’s no point in making a reskinned Heartstone or Magic, so I’m reasonably confident there’ll be a few interesting twists.

      Dota is a game with incredible depth, and mechanically the heroes can do wild and fascinating things. Seeing someone like Rubick translated into a card game will be a blast.

      • upupup says:

        And not made by them, but acquired once it was already successful and the genre as a whole had become incredibly popular. They don’t get to take credit for the role the first DOTA played in establishing the genre.

        I figure people are disappointed that now that Valve is so successful they’re being polishers rather than innovators, when they have the talent and funds to achieve so much more.

        • BooleanBob says:

          They don’t deserve credit for popularising the genre, but as custodians for one of its biggest stalwarts they do deserve credit for the way they’ve handled its monetisation.

          Dota 2 is one of the few online multiplayer games where all heroes can be played immediately, for free, and where there’s no major intrinsic gameplay elements or advantages locked behind a pay- or grindwall. There are full-price multiplayer games that can’t boast that.

          They’ve made a lot of money through sales of cosmetics, but I’m not sure I would describe that as cashing in or otherwise cynical behaviour given the above.

          Having said that, I have to agree with your last paragraph. This is a company is a position to do bold and new things in gaming, and it will have take a exceptional entrance into the CCG genre to qualify as that.

          • upupup says:

            Custodian? They’re just a company that bought an existing formula, polished it and incorporated it into their client to further strengthen its market position. It’s part of a larger business strategy that ties into their other multiplayer games and creating further brand loyalty through tying them into trading on the Steam market, which has been extremely profitable for them. That it’s free despite having high production values fits into this, because it’s not the game sales that they’re getting their profits from but the popularity of the system that it’s contributing to.

            Certainly there are companies that would have monetised the franchise much more heavily, but not being as bad as you could have been isn’t praiseworthy to me. Let’s not forget that they’ve already done their share in pushing for monetisation with their other acquired franchises, Counter Strike and Team Fortress, and their continuing attempts to do same to modding. Things like paid-for skins used to be completely absent from multiplayer gaming, after all.

      • Vandelay says:

        Personally, I’m not particularly sick of CCGs. I am sick of digital CCGs just aping Hearthstone, which in turn just aped Magic. They are all pretty much bash the opponent’s hero/base/whatever until the number reaches zero. They often twist it a bit with adding a few different elements like the moving of your creatures around a grid in Duelyst or the attack and defend positions of Infinity War, but they all boil down to the same thing in the end.

        Compared to the physical space where you have many of the big games adding in interesting economic elements or bluffing games or combat mechanics like the poker game of Doomtown, the digital games are rather bland.

        They also are completely ignoring this biggest change in the modern physical card games, the fact they are now mostly LCGs. The RNG element of CCGs are so off putting to me that that I am not interested in sinking money into any of them. I’m sure I am not alone in that regard.

    • upupup says:

      They’ve been trying to be another Blizzard for a long time now, which is confusing because they don’t need to. Steam is still bringing in the money, and will continue to as nothing is set to overtake it, so they can afford to try creative, risky projects that might offer unforeseen profit opportunities (like Portal).

      Even if they’re dead set on securing their profits by adding a game to their stall set in a genre that’s popular at the moment, it’s not like they’re not big enough to work on multiple releases simultaneously. It doesn’t bother me as I don’t enjoy their games, but it’s definitely confusing and I wonder what’s going on behind the scenes.

      • woodsey says:

        Assuming people really do wheel around the office to work on what they want, the simplest answer seems to be that what you’re gonna get (at least, what you’re gonna see released most quickly/often) are games inspired by what most people in the office are currently playing.

        It is kind of a strange feeling. Obviously they can work on what they want and they don’t owe anyone anything beyond they’ve already released, but you’d have had to nail me to the wall a decade ago to keep from a new Valve game, and now they’ve done a real about-face in terms of projects it seems.

  5. Epimer says:

    Wow, three lanes? Wherever will this genre go next.

  6. MeestaNob says:

    I’m happy that Valve have numerous streams of income to keep themselves going, but I dearly wish they’d DO something with all those resources and take advantage of the freedom financial stability affords a company rather than just making DotA.

    I don’t play DotA. I don’t like DotA. I don’t want to even hear about DotA, if I’m honest.

    Please just make a new FPS. Maybe make a new Left 4 Dead as an RTS. Make a Portal music rhythm game. Who knows, just do SOMETHING for fuck’s sake, not just more DotA.

  7. elendil says:

    “isn’t related to DotA and a whole new thing altogether”.

    And then they announce a DotA card game.

    Probabily the most disappointing game announcement ever.

  8. SigmaCAT says:

    What a stupid idea. They have so much talent, all of their IPs are so fresh, and they make a new CCG. Lol.

    I was watching TI live and when they announced this at 3AM right after the tensest of BO3’s i just closed it and went to sleep, thats how anticlimactic the announcement was.

  9. gtb says:

    Yes, a card game is definitely an innovative and exciting idea.
    It will assuredly do very well and not immediately fall into obscurity until it’s quietly removed from the store.

  10. Captain Narol says:

    Considering the popularity of DOTA, maybe this is gonna be the Hearthstone-Killer that many CGG players are waiting for…

    With Hasbro/WOTC releasing a new lineup of Magic-related digital products soon and HS starting to lose some steam, the battle for the Digital CGG Crown is entering a new phase, hard to tell which one will take the lead for the coming years.

  11. Premium User Badge

    james.hancox says:

    Oh good, just what we wanted Valve to be developing

    EDIT: Of course, Valve should feel free to develop what they want- I’m not one of those people who thinks anything but Half Life 3 should be banned. They’re creative people, let them do what they want :) I just wish that what they wanted was something a little more original.

  12. haldolium says:

    gonna do “what people want”, right?

  13. kwyjibo says:

    This could be Valve’s first mobile game.

    A CCG with the Steam marketplace where you can just buy/sell cards could be great.

  14. DoomBroom says:

    People that say Valve don’t make games anymore or do anything new and innovative seem to forget about their VR endeavor.

    They have 3 full games in production for VR, this Artifact thing might or might not be one of them, who knows? Also they keep fleshing out the SteamVR Home social feature and adding little sidequests and stuff. I use it to hang out with friends and decide which games to play. They made The Lab, Dota 2 VR Hub and they’re supporting some indie games like Budget Cuts and Onward. And not least they’re developing the VR hardware to run it all. They have some pretty cool VR hand controllers on the way and other upgrades in the works. If you’re not in to VR you probably don’t understand any of this, however you soon will be when you try or buy a SteamVR headset (That includes the Oculus Rift which now is cheaper than ever with the whole package for 399$). People usually don’t get it until they try it, then their minds are blown. Valve is doing lots of stuff alright :)

    • Vandelay says:

      This is a fair point. I recently watched a round table discussion with some of the Valve devs that worked on The Lab and it was clear that they put a whole bunch of work into that. It wasn’t just simply throwing together some stuff to tack onto the HTC Vive bundle; they were really working to create a new gaming grammar from the tech.

      The problem (if it can be considered as such,) is they are so willing to ditch what they are working on if they aren’t happy with it that they are forced to be so closed door about everything they do. They might have said they are working on 3 VR games, but we still know absolutely nothing beyond that. Are these games not much more than ideas at the moment? Are one, two or all of them going to ever see the light of day or just disappear completely? Will they be complete games or similar to the small vignettes we got in The Lab? To have even heard that they are working on 3 games is pretty much unheard of from Valve, but I would want to see something a bit more substantial than that before I get my hopes too high about seeing multiple games from Valve any time soon (our best hope would be that they are connected with the new knuckles controllers, but I don’t believe there is any release date on those.)

      I would not be surprised if they have been working on a CCG for years now, perhaps initially without any Dota connection, just as they probably worked on HL3 for years and years (whether they still are working on something HL related is another matter, but I would be very surprised if they hadn’t been at the very least got to prototyping ideas.)

  15. AbyssUK says:

    I think Valve need to employ somebody to tell them what people actually want from them… this is like Disney announcing a “brand new kind of ride” at Disney world to just unveil a lilo and stitch themed carousel… what were they thinking…

  16. zulnam says:

    Great, another multiplayer game with microtransactions.

    And it’s a card game, too.

    Oh… fucking… joy.

  17. gabrielonuris says:

    Valve now only makes cheap, “direct to DVD” kind of games.

    That’s it. Valve is the “Uwe Boll” from the video gaming industry.

  18. DoomBroom says:

    Past games made by Valve to judge this should be another good one. I really don’t get all this negativity, people are so quick to judge based on nothing. When did Valve ever make a bad game?

  19. DeVadder says:

    I can’t wait for 2018 when every established company is going to throw their beloved IPs at the battle royale genre!

    Marvel vs DC: Last Hero Standing? Half Life or Death?

    • pepperfez says:

      Poor Marvel, they’ve already killed half their heroes before the fight even begins.

  20. edwardoka says:

    Listening to a fairly recent RPS podcast couple of days ago, Brendy and Pip were talking about CCGs and I thought “Hmm, Valve haven’t released a CCG, have they? How utterly dreadful and predictable it would be if they were to do so.”

    Sorry, folks. My bad.

  21. elendil says:

    What’s with all the negativity? This could setting the game trend for 2014. Valve, always one step ahead.

  22. Nucas says:

    if you’d told me ten years ago that i’d reach a point of automatic and open contempt for valve’s new ‘releases’ i probably wouldn’t have believed it but here we are. 2017. steam still with bugs and functionality problems that have been around for 15 years. valve hyping a card game based on the moba sequel they bought and otherwise still just coasting by.

  23. Herring says:

    So may cynics :) Though to be fair I’m sure this will be the same unmitigated disaster and commercial failure that Hearthstone turned out to be.