Artifact’s complex pricing system has ruffled feathers in the game’s nascent community.
Valve’s approach to monetisation in the Dota 2 card game saw the company break from the norm, opting for a pay-to-play approach where its contemporaries have gone free-to-play. But that initial buy-in hasn’t prevented what fans see as predatory pricing in the game.
Artifact offers very few ways to earn new cards - instead, Valve offers a complicated web of methods to fork out. New packs can be bought for $2, or they can be earned in Expert play. The catch? Expert matches require event tickets to access for about a dollar a pop (sold in packs of five for $4.95).
“Here are the ways to get cards,” explained Reddit user Ac3Zer0. “Pay 2 dollars for a card pack, pay for cards on the market, or play expert. Every time you play expert you have to spend a ticket, which is a dollar.”
“So to play constructed, NO MATTER WHAT, you will have to spend money (to get cards), to play draft NO MATTER WHAT, you have to spend money (for tickets).”
The system appears designed to encourage trading through the Steam marketplace, but complications arise there. Heroes given to all players at the game’s outset are included in pack pools. Since decks can only contain one of each hero, they’re useless to keep and useless to trade.
Similar titles like Hearthstone offer quests and challenges to earn free card packs, but players still require a substantial buy-in to remain competitive. But Artifact has an up-front fee - and combining that with some severely obtuse pricing systems hasn’t sat well with the community.
Valve has since responded, saying that players will be able to recycle duplicate heroes into event tickets, a roundabout way of turning them into new drops. Draft modes, where duplicate heroes can be used, have been opened up for play with friends so players can try the mode without buying a ticket.
These changes fix some of the more glaring concerns. But there’s a deeper issue here that remains unchecked - acquiring new cards in Artifact is too complex, and a little too pricey.
This isn't the first change that Valve has had to make to its new title, with the firm having to edit a rather tone-deaf card name last month.
Artifact is the first game that Valve has developed in years, with the studio saying that this is a return to it making software. It is set to launch on November 29th.