Richard Garfield’s New Card Game Causes Strange Controversy in Videogames

December 3, 2018 by ludicryan

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If you're not entirely satisfied with just one brand new Richard Garfield card game in the shape of Keyforge, then Valve have you covered with Artifact.

Richard Garfield's New Card Game Causes Strange Controversy in Videogames

Artifact - which released last week - is a cross between the incredibly popular MOBA game DOTA 2 and collectable card games like Hearthstone, Gwent and Magic the Gathering. The cynic in me calls it a perpetual form of 'anything you can do I can do better' between Blizzard (the company that make Hearthstone) and Valve who have made Artifact. But there seems to be a surprising amount of depth to what Richard Garfield has done in adapting the standard card game format to a MOBA structure.

Players still use one deck, but their attention is split across three lanes, Each lane contains a tower at the end with 40 health. If one of those towers is destroyed it is replaced by an artifact with 80 health. If a player destroys two towers or an artifact then they have won the game. Each lane then operates as its own battlefield for players to divert their attention back and forth across: will you put more resources and monsters into the leftmost lane to destroy that tower or is it a feint for what you're doing in the centre? It provides more depth in this quickly proliferating genre of digital card games.

Richard Garfield's New Card Game Causes Strange Controversy in Videogames

One of the most interesting and controversial aspects of the game, however, lies with its pricing leading to the game being 'review bombed' on Valve's own storefront. Review bombing is a phenomenon when groups of disgruntled players target a game to receive dozens of negative reviews - dropping its average rating. Certain players are frustrated that they must pay $20 for the base game and then an additional $2 for booster packs: something the tabletop communities of Magic, Android: Netrunner, and even Keyforge are well used to by now.

Richard Garfield's New Card Game Causes Strange Controversy in Videogames

The issue that these players have seems to be in confusing this standard practice in tabletop card games with microtransactions in videogames - a much-discussed topic over the last 5 years. Player reviews often cite pay-to-win but part of the issue might reside in the perception that if Hearthstone can offer its base game for free then Artifact should be the same.

Though the comparison of these digital formats wouldn't be entirely unfair, Artifact has an extra side to its economic model which is underappreciated. Valve's storefront - Steam - has an open marketplace for players to buy and sell their Artifact cards with some of those cards already reaching the $30 mark. This marketplace feature makes the game more akin to Magic the Gathering than Hearthstone where you might be expected to drop $200 on an expansion to get all the cards you want. This marketplace makes Artifact a lot more open to players if they have more choice in their collection.

Richard Garfield's New Card Game Causes Strange Controversy in Videogames

With the added depth to standard card game play and the online marketplace Artifact stands out from an increasingly crowded market in the digital space.

What do you folks think of this backlash to Artifact? Is it justified or is this anger unnecessary?

"With the added depth to standard card game play and the online marketplace Artifact stands out from an increasingly crowded market in the digital space."

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