Artifact's developers have given up on selling people cards. When the closed beta for Artifact 2.0 kicks off, you'll have to earn every single card through playing - no market, no packs. Stingy pricing was just about the only thing holding the game back for me, so, hurray!
It's part of a big relaunch. Valve have also mentioned some changes they're making to the game itself, including allowing "players to access all three lanes at once". That's pretty wild, too.
Not selling cards at all is an unusual move, but probably a wise one. I wasn't the only one who thought the game massively favoured those who splurged, at least in constructed play. Valve say they "have some ideas about what we’d like to sell, but none of them are cards/packs."
In their blog post, Valve also say they're working to make the game more accessible. The biggest change, they say, "is zooming out to allow players access to all three lanes at once. The majority of effects still work on individual lanes so they still maintain their identity, but it’s less likely that a player will get shut out in the same way they used to."
I'm not completely sure this is what that means, but it sounds like we'll be playing cards onto lanes in any order we like, rather than going from left to right. That's huge. Carefully weighing up how much to commit to each lane is central to Artifact, and I'm intrigued to see how that shifts if and when players can flit between lanes.
Valve also mention they've added "a new draft mode, Hero Draft, that gives you a taste of constructing decks without all the pressure". Draft modes are always my favourite in card games, so I'm pleased to see Valve breaking away from the convention of always charging an entry fee - presuming that's what they mean by taking away pressure.
In more mixed news, it sounds like our existing card collections are in jeopardy. "Individual cards are likely to have been changed, removed, or brand new", Valve say, "so old decks and stats wouldn’t be valid." Again, it's not completely clear that means we'll lose everything. Then again, maybe it makes sense for us to. Revamping the system so you can't gain an advantage by paying money wouldn't do much good if you let people keep the advantage they've already bought.
When Valve are ready to start letting players into the closed beta, they'll initially prioritise people who bought the game before today. They say they'll "trickle out invites" as they head towards an open beta.
I hope this second attempt is met with success. Artifact deserved more.