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Valve’s first new game in 5 years, Artifact, coming in November, starting at $20

Valve’s first new game in 5 years, Artifact, coming in November, starting at $20

Enlarge / One of many pieces of art commissioned for the cards in Artifact, coming to Steam in November of this year.Sam Machkovech reader comments 42 Share this story Valve Software’s first brand-new video game since 2013, the digital card-dueling game Artifact, finally has a release date: November 28. This is the first Valve game…


Enlarge/One of many pieces of art commissioned for the cards inArtifact, coming to Steam in November of this year.
Sam Machkovech

reader comments 42

Valve Software’s first brand-new video game since 2013, the digital card-dueling gameArtifact, finally has a release date: November 28.

This is the first Valve game sinceCounter-Strike: Global Offensiveto launch with a fixed release price as opposed to the free-to-play model enjoyed by Valve games likeDota 2andTeam Fortress 2. Anyone who wants to playArtifactwill need to buy the game’s base model at $19.99, which will be available on all Steam platforms—meaning Windows, MacOS, and Linux.

What exactly does $19.99 get you? The game maker didn’t answer this in its press release, so we reached out to Valve’s Doug Lombardi, who broke down the exact package included in that cost: two pre-made “base” decks of 54 cards each (“5 heroes, 9 items, and 40 other cards”) and 10 sealed packs of cards, which each include 12 random cards, one of which is guaranteed to be “rare.” Additional 12-card packs will be sold directly by Valve at $2 a pop at launch.

One exception to that upfront cost will come at this month’s PAX West. Anyone who waits in line and plays Valve’s first public hands-on demo of the game will receive two free keys to unlock the game’s base model when it launches on Steam later this year.

The game will also launch on iOS and Android in “2019,” but details about that version’s cost, or whether players will be able to take their paid Steam version to their favorite smartphone device, were not disclosed today.

Modes, economies, and questions

Artifact, as we discovered in our lengthy, world-premiere hands-on earlier this year, cranks up the mechanics of the popular card gameMagic: The Gatheringby having players manage three “lanes” of cards in one-on-one battles. While this three-lane system, and the game’s collection of heroes, are wholesale borrowed from Valve’sDota 2, the game’s design was spearheaded by the guy who createdMagicin the ’90s, Richard Garfield—and he insisted to Ars that the design was not bent or molded just to fit into theDota 2universe.

The game’s first 280 playing cards include “heroes,” attacks, spells, items, and otherMagic-like options that can be shuffled into a given deck. (You can have as many cards in a deck as you’d like.) Unlike other digital card games, future changes toArtifactwill be a lot moreMagic-like. New cards will be introduced to the game as digital purchases, likely in “sealed packs” directly from Valve. Additionally, certain modes may revolve around card packs, according to Valve co-founder Gabe Newell; he suggested in March that “draft pack” and “sealed pack” modes may eventually ship with the game.

Those future cards, and cards in the starter set, will be sellable to other players as purchases over the Steam Marketplace (from which Valve will likely take a cut, as it already does with other paid-item transactions between users). Because the base $20 package includes a number of “sealed” card packs, these may very well introduce duplicates into a new player’s starting card set, which players can then take to the Steam Marketplace to sell or trade.

Garfield and friends seem intent on leveraging the concepts behind the real-worldMagicmarketplace—meaning a game that is regularly updated by introducing new, paid cards as opposed to requiring expansions that may render older cards moot. Whether digital-card fans will prefer this over the expansion-driven economy behind Blizzard’sHearthstoneremains to be seen.

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