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Richard Garfield on Artifact’s failed monetization model: ‘We wanted to avoid manipulating people’

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When he reviewed Artifact for us, Will Bindloss concluded by saying, “Value for money, I’m well aware, is going to be a big factor for many looking to buy the game.” He wasn’t wrong. Many were kept away from Valve’s card game by the $20 base cost and real-money card marketplace. Though the Build Your Legend update offered free card packs as level-up rewards, it wasn’t enough. That $20 buy-in meant players had to be convinced that Artifact was worthwhile up front, rather than being able to ease into it for free. With a game that complex, convincing wasn’t easy.

“I wish it had been better received,” Artifact designer Richard Garfield tells me when I ask about how he feels about it in hindsight. “But I’m very happy with where the design ended up. Working with the guys at Valve was a lot of fun, they’re very smart folk and they took my design direction seriously, but they’re smart enough that they gave lots of pushback in the appropriate places and we ended up with something I thought was better.”

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