Artifact, Valve's collectible card game set in the world of Dota 2, has ceased active development. That means that Artifact 2.0, a reboot intended to rejuvenate the 2018 game's fortunes, will never be finished.
It also means that Valve have made Artifact, including every card, free for everyone.
Valve announced the news earlier this evening in an update on Steam, saying that while they were reasonably satisfied with their progress, "we haven't managed to get the active player numbers to a level that justifies further development at this time."
The post says that they recognise that both Artifact Classic and Artifact 2.0 still have value to its players, and that's why they're going free. Artifact 2.0 Beta has been renamed Artifact Foundry and it and Classic are available on Steam now.
The game and its cards all being free means you're no longer able to buy card packs, and marketplace integration has been removed. Players who bought the game prior to its going free will see their existing cards convert into "Collector's Editions versions", which they can continune to earn by playing while those who get the game for free will not.
Artifact Foundry is an "unfinished product" according to the post, but "most of what's missing is polish and art."
Our Artifact review was broadly positive back in 2018, with some fairly large reservations, particularly around the ways in which competitive play seemed to favour expensive decks. The game launched to higher player numbers which quickly dropped off, prompted Valve to return to the drawing board with an almost total redesign. You can read about the ways in which Artifact 2.0 changed the game in its development updates from last year.
That Artifact is now stopping development represents a rare failure for Valve. Most of their multiplayer games remain popular years after release, and their singleplayer games are beloved classics. Until now, the exceptions were mostly smaller experiments like Richochet or (the still great) Alien Swarm.
Since Artifact's release, Valve have returned to their first-person shooter roots with the release of Half-Life Alyx last year, which was excellent.