Thursday, 13 Dec 2018
Business

Monetization structure of Artifact makes Valve money and some players very angry


A screenshot of the Artifact market. (Via Eric V)

A new digital card game that encourages players to spend money to build their collections has been described as outrage by critics. While its supporters view the negative outcry as an overreaction, Artifact – a Dota-based world-based card game developed by Valve Corporation and Richard Garfield, designer of the popular Magic: The Gathering card game – has garnered thousands of critics negative on Steam. after its launch on November 28, critics attacking the monetization structure of the game.

The indignation comes from the fact that many users think that players must spend a significant amount, beyond the $ 20 purchase price, to be competitive. The ArtifactGoldfish price tracking site currently places some of the highest decks in the game between $ 60 and $ 80 each. Critics say they do not benefit from a "pay to win" monetization method, in which users feel compelled to buy more after they have already bought the game if they want to succeed.

In the 24 hours that followed the launch of the game, it has accumulated more than 1,500 negative reviews, 2,600 positive results and a user base of 60,000 players, according to PC Gamer.

At the time of purchase, users receive two sets of 40-card cards, 10 additional card packs and five event tickets, which allow them to compete for prizes in the form of new card packs and cards. event tickets – but to win these prizes, the player must: perform well on multiple matches. You can "go to infinity" – win competitions and accumulate the tickets and card packs that accompany it, without having to buy a single package – but the odds are high enough that most players can not.

Players wishing to upgrade their deck beyond their initial build will likely need to purchase additional packs, priced at $ 1.99 each, or purchase individual cards from other players in a market managed by Valve, which represents a reduction of 15% on each transaction. Additional event tickets are sold in batches of five for $ 4.95.

During the weekend, the Artifact Twitter account announced 6,056,282 cards have been traded on the Steam market since its launch. As noted by Kevin "Purge", analyst at Dota, GodecIf you assume a minimum share of $ 0.02 compared to Valve for each transaction, you get a profit of $ 121,125.64 in less than a week.

Other popular digital card games such as Hearthstone have developed free models that reward the time invested with boosters, without the players having to spend money. They also offer players the opportunity to make additional purchases. Artifact is more comparable to Magic in the seller's market, with cards costing a few cents and others costing thousands of dollars. The contrast is lower, however, as the most expensive map of Artifact – Ax, a hero card – has stabilized between 15 and 17 USD this week, from $ 40 closer to the launch date of the game.

The structure has been a source of division between fans and potential players, who seem to like or dislike him. Users have bombarded it at launch, making it pass to a global "mixed" rating.

Valve has already addressed two concerns raised by players: the draft mode was blocked behind event tickets to buy, and players opened cards with packs that go into the starting set (and so are not worth anything on the market). The company has implemented a free draft mode without reward and a system in which 20 cards can be recycled to create an event ticket.

However, unless you are good enough in Artifact draft mode to maintain consistently high earnings, you will probably need to invest beyond the $ 20 registration fee to get the decks of your choice.

But if the disadvantage is the apparent need for a certain level of participation rather than a free game system, the disadvantage lies in the freedom offered by the system. Players can simply buy the cards they want and have a package, rather than roll the dice for the cards they want via boosters. Joel Larsson, Pro Magic player and current competitor of Artifact, prefers to be able to buy all the tools you need from the start.

"Artifact just gives you more options," Larsson said via voice chat after the publication. "If you're sure you know what you want to play and how much money you want to spend, you can just buy a deck and you have it. And then maybe you just need to grind the rest of the collection, right? Well in Hearthstone, it is not possible.

Prices for artifacts are still equal, but the cost of a competitive "first level" game seems to be relatively low compared to the investment required for Magic. Larsson said he spent about $ 120 for the game so far, which earned him the entire launch. Compared to 500 to 600 dollars, he claims to have spent his Magic Deck only for the current modern format, it is a contrast.

Members of the artifact community seem to think that prices will continue to fall in the long run. The new cards and new card games will start to have an impact on prices, while the constant influx of new cards in the market from open boosters means that the current gems, like Ax, could be devalued over time due to increased supply or reduced viability.

"At the moment, card prices are exorbitant because players accumulate valuable cards," wrote Sean "Swim" Huguenard, a competitive Artifact player and streamer in an email. "But some crashes are going to happen in the next few weeks and that will definitely lower the cost of the game."

The counterpoint to the fall is that it could be a bad experience for some players who spent early. There could also be a potentially infinite number of rotating cards, which would cause a huge devaluation of the cards over time. It's good for those trying to set a budget, but difficult for the first users. Valve did not return a request for comment on the rarity of rare cards in circulation.

Mr. Larsson said that much of the negativity surrounding the pricing model is unjustified and that Valve has not been slow in solving many of these problems, citing in particular the addition of the drawing free water.

"I do not know, maybe I'm biased because I come from Magic and I'm a little crazy about what the prices are," Larsson said. "And also, a company that always listens but never does anything they hear. So here [Valve is] like "Oh, there were complaints about the draft", and they just added it, instantly. "

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