There are probably many reasons that Valve stopped regularly making new video games. Gabe Newell and friends had to shift their focus towards Steam, basically a monopoly for digital PC game sales. The company wanted to branch out into hardware with stuff like virtual reality?and Steam Machines. And if you made games like Half-Life and Portal, you also might want to quit while you’re ahead, instead of failing to reach sky-high expectations.
But I personally blame Dota 2. Ever since Valve started publishing this free-to-play sequel to the original MOBA mod, so much more money started pouring that Gordon Freeman could go kick rocks. So it’s no surprise that the Brand New Valve Game you can buy right now, Artifact, is a collectible card game spin-off to Dota 2.
Artifact turns Dota 2 into a collectible card game, and the adaptation is faithful in more meta ways than you’re expecting. After all, the original Dota was a Warcraft mod, and Blizzard found later success turning Warcraft into the digital card game Hearthstone. So with Artifact, a sequel to a Blizzard mod becomes a card game following the success of Blizzard’s card game based on said modded original game. It’s like poetry, it rhymes.
But what’s fascinating about Artifact is that it also finds clever ways to turn the famously inscrutable mechanics of Dota 2 and MOBAs in general into accessible card game concepts. Your skills will actually transfer over. You have to worry about specific hero powers, destroying towers, staying in the right line, using items and mana, as well as dealing with hordes of weak creeps. It seems really clever, and it should be considering it was designed by CCG legend Richard Garfield, creator of Magic: The Gathering.
Artifact is available now on PC, Mac, and Linux for $20. But like Hearthstone expect it to really blow up when it launches on iOS and Android in 2019. For more on Valve, read the abandoned plot to Half-Life 2: Episode 3?and help us investigate who really owns Steam.com.