In the world of fantasy video games, you are nothing until you get your own digital card game. That’s why Dota 2, Valve’s multiplayer online battle arena that is in the middle of a $24 million tournament this week, can finally consider itself one of the big boys now that the publisher announced its spinoff Artifact card game. But while another version of nerd poker from a major developer makes sense in the era of microtransactions and games-as-a-service (GaaS), it didn’t quite thrill all of the fans who were in attendance for the reveal.
— nick@TI7 (@nickisnixed) August 9, 2017
Valve announced Artifact during The International major tournament for Dota 2. This is one of the biggest esports events of the year, and it attracts thousands of dedicated fans to Seattle’s Key Arena to watch live matches featuring game’s best players on the planet. The publisher likely hopes that audience will serve as the foundation of Artifact’s player base, but as you can see in the video above, a number of people in the crowd wanted to make sure Valve could hear their disappointment.
Of course, that reaction isn’t just about the glut of digital card battlers that have launched in the wake of Blizzard’s success with Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft. That World of Warcraft spinoff generates millions of dollars a month from tens of millions of monthly active players. Since that game, we’ve now seen similar attempts to capitalize on popular fantasy franchises in gaming with The Elder Scrolls: Legends (Skyrim), Gwent (The Witcher), and Chronicle (Runescape). So fans are already starting to view games like Artifact with a skeptical eye.
But that disappointment also comes from the complicated feelings fans have about Valve. The company made its name producing some of the most beloved games of all time, like Half-Life, Portal, and Left 4 Dead. It has not, however, released a new game since the VR minigame collection The Lab in 2016. Prior to that, it hasn’t released a new single-player game since Portal 2 in 2011. So when Valve said it was going to reveal a new game, fans understandably got their hopes up.
The series of tweets in this image properly illustrate how that roller coaster of emotions went for many in attendance at Key Arena:
— Vincent Caravella (@VinnyCaravella) August 9, 2017
But despite audible groans from Dota 2 fans, Artifact is probably going to do just fine. Let’s put it like this: In the last 24 hours, 142 people have paid an average of 9 cents for this useless BioShock Infinite trading card on the Steam marketplace. Imagine what people will pay for cards that could actually help them complete their decks in a game they theoretically enjoy playing.
Yeah, Artifact is going to be just fine.