Valve has big expectations for its upcoming digital card game Artifact. During a recent presentation recorded by PCGamesN at Valve's headquarters, co-founder Gabe Newell discussed the design philosophy behind the game, comparing it to seminal first-person shooter Half-Life 2. Both games, he said, are "definitive statements" on their respective genres.
"Artifact for us is in the same way that Half-Life 2 is an attempt to take everything that we saw in the industry, and all of our own thinking and our own experiences, and turn it into the definitive statement of what a first-person action game was," Newell said. "That's what Artifact is in terms of trading card games."
Newell shared a number of new details about Artifact during his presentation. It will of course have an esports component. Valve is heavily involved in the professional gaming scene thanks to Dota 2 and Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, and Newell said the team is drawing from that experience with Artifact.
"We've been shipping a bunch of esports titles and this really takes all of our best thinking about how to build something that's great for tournaments and great for [spectating] and then incorporates it into a trading card game," he said.
Artifact's first esports tournament will be a Valve-sponsored event with a $1 million first prize. It will take place in the first quarter of 2019. There will also be automated tournaments, Newell said, along with the usual professional tournaments held for other games.
Artifact won't be free-to-play and it won't be "pay-to-win." Newell believes that would have a pernicious impact on the game's design and on the evolution of its community. "When you're in a free-to-play environment, you end up with this tendency that rarity equals power," he said. "So you're trying to create this artificial relationship and that's not the case at all with Artifact. There are plenty of very common parts that are gonna be super powerful."
There also won't be a single-player campaign. The only non-multiplayer component is an A.I. that teaches people how to play.
Artifact launches on PC later this year. It will also come to iOS and Android in mid-2019.