Valve Tweaks the Monetization Model for Artifact

Artifact, the online CCG being launched by Valve, is already making some waves before it even enters beta…and not the good kind. Complaints regarding the “pay for everything” style of the Artifact monetization scheme has prompted backlash from potential players and a bit of adjustment by the game’s publisher.

artifact monetization

As we reported earlier this year, Artifact is a buy-to-play game that requires you to pay additional money for card boosters or to purchase cards from the in-game marketplace. The only in-game way to earn cards would be through winning draft events, which require you to use an Event Ticket — another item that’s bought with real money.

On top of these paywalls, players have expressed their dismay about the fact that cards from said boosters are almost always the same you’d get from the base game, making them ultimately worthless in the marketplace.

In response to at least a few of these concerns, Valve has penned a dev blog post that will introduce some changes in the next beta builds. An option to create a draft event with friends will be included, and a Casual Phantom Draft mode in Casual Play will let players practice the draft style of gameplay without burning an Event Ticket. Additionally, a system will be included that lets players recycle unwanted cards into event tickets.

Nothing in the blog post, however, addressed any of the other paywall complaints.

The draft options will be available with today’s public beta, while the card recycling system will go live over the next week or so along with other beta improvements.

Our Thoughts

The dev blog reads to us like they’re slowly walking back changes to see just how much paywalling they can actually get away with, which probably won’t sit well with fans of online CCGs. Especially when there are other, more freely open and available digital card games out there.

Sources: PC Gamer, official site

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Artifact and Valve Clarify Chat Moderation Statements

Judging solely on earlier word about Artifact chat, it’d perhaps be easy to assume the game would be a smoldering landscape of text-based toxicity. After some clarification from both the devs of the CCG and Valve, that doesn’t appear to quite be the case.

artifact chat

According to statements from programmer Jeep Barnett, the chat system being used in-game isn’t being made by Artifact itself but from the Steam devs.

“I don’t want to commit to features that other people at the company are then going to have to do,” said Barnett. “I don’t want to come back to the office and have a bunch of people yell at me like ‘why are you promising to have these things that we’re not planning on doing or are planning on doing?’”

When pressed about the matter, Valve confirmed that the option to entirely shut chat off will be included in the full game – a feature that was then confirmed by Barnett: “If you don’t want to hear what other people are saying, you can turn them off,” he said.

Further details on other chat moderation tools being implemented by Valve are expected to be confirmed at some point later.

Our Thoughts

Hopefully the ability to have digital loudmouths scream mindlessly into the void will alleviate some of the reservations people have about Artifact. As much fun as multiplayer games can be, often hell can be other people as well. It’s an interesting catch-22.

Source: IGN

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Magic: The Gathering Arena Announces its Open Beta Date

If our review whet your appetite for Magic: The Gathering Arena or you’re just looking forward to more people to face off against, then your opportunity is fast approaching. The Magic: The Gathering Arena open beta has gotten its confirmed start date along with some other noteworthy updates.

magic: the gathering arena open beta

MTG Arena already boasts itself as the most complete digital form of the original CCG to date, but open beta a number of new updates including new battlegrounds, new music and new art. The open beta will also see the Guilds of Ravnica card set arrive to the game, along with the new Sealed Events mode.

The digital game is also building a bridge into the real world with some special promotions. Every Guilds of Ravnica Planeswalker deck will also include a code to bring that same deck to Arena, and every prerelease pack will include a code for one entry into a Sealed Event in the digital CCG. Those who buy booster packs in the real world can also get a chance to unlock three free boosters in Arena. Bear in mind, however, that these offers are all limited to one per account.

MTG Arena will make its global arrival to open beta on Thursday, September 27th at 1pm PDT/4pm EST.

Our Thoughts

While the game’s monetization model is still something others will likely rub their chins and ponder, it’s clear that Magic: The Gathering Arena is the most true-to-life representation of the physical CCG in the digital space. That will likely be more than enough for fans of this game to hop in.

Source: press release

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Gwent Confirms Homecoming and Thronebreaker Release Dates

Perhaps now players of Gwent can stop being worried. The delayed Gwent: Homecoming release dates and the Thronebreaker release dates have both been announced, pulling the Witcher CCG out of beta at long last and releasing as a full title along with the game’s standalone single-player experience.

gwent: homecoming release dates

Both the Homecoming launch update and Thronebreaker will arrive to GOG on PC Tuesday, October 23rd, while Xbox One and PS4 players will have to wait until Tuesday, December 4th for the titles to arrive on their platform of choice. The Gwent devs apologize for the delay, but mention that console players can expect complimentary Kegs as recompense for the wait.

For those who haven’t been keeping up, Homecoming is a paradigm shift for Gwent in a number of ways. Most notable is the addition of 3D models to the game, offering more dynamic visuals for both the cards and your chosen leader, who now stands aside the game board. The board has also been narrowed to only two lanes and a number of adjusted mechanics will be in play. A video from earlier in the month offers a more detailed breakdown of how it all works.

Thronebreaker, meanwhile, is offering 30 hours of single-player adventure that tells the story of Meve. The game promises to provide narrative-focused exploration, puzzles and card game battle mechanics in one single package.

A more recent video from the Gwent team confirming the release dates and showing off more of the new visuals was also part of the announcement. That can be seen below.

Our Thoughts

Wow, what a change! It has, admittedly, been a very long time since we’ve taken at peek at Gwent, but now that the game has a full release date confirmed it seems high time to revisit this addictive Witcher mini-game turned CCG.

Sources: official site, Twitter

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Artifact Will Not Have Free Cards or Chat Moderation

Most games are keen to tell you about the features that will be included in a game, but Artifact is perhaps most telling for what it won’t have. Namely, Artifact monetization will currently not include any way to earn free cards and the game’s chat will not include any form of moderation.

artifact monetization

In an interview with programmer Jeep Barnett and lead designer Richard Garfield, it was revealed that Artifact will cost $20 up front, which grants you two starter decks and ten random card packs. The game will not include any way of earning cards through play. Cards can currently be earned in one of two ways; real-world money purchasing of packs, or bartering of individual cards in an in-game marketplace.

According to the interview, this decision was made in order to avoid the “suboptimal experiences” of free play according to Garfield.

“It’s not pay to win. It’s pay to participate. We expect top-tier play to include a lot of common cards. We also make sure that rare cards that are there are not so rare they drag prices up.”

As for chat, Artifact will include one-on-one chat between yourself and your opponent, but once again does not currently have any features that will allow a person to report bad actors or even involve any sort of direct moderation plan. According to Barnett’s response, it appears the devs of the game are hoping that a lack of an audience for someone being a digital a-hole will be moderation enough:

“Psychologically, we find that people misbehave when there is somebody else to observe them misbehaving. When it’s a one-on-one game, what is my motivation for saying something awful? But when you’re in a game with a bunch of other people and you say something, a bunch of other people laugh at you, so something happened. We tend to see people behave very differently in one-on-one situations.”

There also does not appear to be a plan for inclusion and diversity surrounding any esports scene that might spring up around Artifact, with both Barnett and Garfield appearing to hope that the scene would just be inclusive all on its own. “If you look at Magic tournaments, it encourages wide participation from lots of different players. I think Artifact’s tournament will look a little more like that,” remarked Barnett.

It is important to bear in mind that Artifact is still in development and a number of these decisions may not yet be final, particularly in regards to card earnings or other features found in online CCGs like a single-player mode or ranked matches. According to the piece, Barnett did mention that these features may come later depending on community response.

Our Thoughts

Early days or not, these sound like astoundingly poor design choices, particularly in regards to moderation. We definitely hope that the devs of Artifact strongly consider, because right now a number of these missing functions and features mean a pretty hard pass for many of us.

Source: GamesIndustry

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Hearthstone Talks about Puzzle Labs

The Boomsday Project is already underway in Hearthstone, but that doesn’t mean the experiments are going to stop. In Puzzle Labs, players will have to work through increasingly devious situations laid out by Dr. Boom and his team in the CCG’s unique new PvE mode.

puzzle labs

Puzzle Labs are broken up into four different types, each challenging you to complete a specific objective in one turn:

  • Lethal is pretty cut-and-dry: take out the opposing Hero face in one go.
  • Survival is the same but in reverse, challenging your Hero to survive a strike from the opponent.
  • Board Clear requires you to wipe out everything on the board in one shot, including your own minions.
  • Mirror will ask you to copy your opponent’s minion layout precisely, including placement and even health and defense scores.

As one would expect, each type of puzzle starts off simple enough to teach you the basics and then ramps up from there. According to the video posted by the devs, solutions to these puzzles can be numerous and so you’ll perhaps want to consider thinking outside of the box.

Naturally, muddling through these Puzzle Labs will involve some manner of reward. Once you complete every challenge in the Puzzle Labs, you’ll unlock a unique new card back styled after Boom Labs.

Puzzle Labs will be added to The Boomsday Project next week. Until then, the latest Hearthside Chat video offers some more details.

Our Thoughts

Who would have thought that a competitive CCG would be transformed into some form of puzzle game? Certainly not us! We’re definitely on board with such unique PvE experiences in Hearthstone and want to wish those who take on this new challenge the best of luck.

Source: official site

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The Boomsday Project is Coming to Hearthstone

Hearthstone’s next expansion has been announced and it’s all about the power of irresponsible science. The Boomsday Project will have players using new keywords and features to empower their mechanically inclined cards and decks with unique new abilities.

the boomsday project

The Boomsday Project introduces the Magnetic keyword, which lets players either use the card on its own or fuse the attributes and abilities of that same card to Mech minions. One such example is the card Spider Bomb, which grants the Mech card its fused to +2/+2 and Deathrattle.

The Boomsday Project will also introduce all new cards with totally unique abilities. One of these new card types are Project cards that apply affects to both players, such as Biology Project that adds 2 Mana Crystals. The other are Omega cards, which are otherwise ordinary when they arrive to the field unless they’re played when you have 10 Mana Crystals. An example card is the Omega Defender, which is a 4 Mana 2/6 Taunt minion normally, but gets +10 Attack if you bring it to the board with 10 Mana Crystals in tow.

The new expansion will also feature some new Legendary cards. One of these is a 3 Mana 3/3 Elemental with a Battlecry ability that lets you cast your next spell card twice this turn. Another, Myra’s Unstable Element, lets you draw the rest of your cards in your entire deck.

The Boomsday Project will release on Tuesday, August 7th. An additional livestream showing off more cards from the expansion is scheduled for Monday, July 23rd at 10am PST/1pm EDT, but for now you can get the initial details in the video below.

Our Thoughts

Considering the expansion’s website isn’t up and running at the time of this story’s writing, it would appear that the cat maybe was left out of the bag a bit early. That slip-up is every Hearthstone fan’s gain, however, as this new expansion definitely sounds like another unique collection of card and gameplay ideas.

Source: YouTube

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Hearthstone Shares New Pack Day with an Animated Short

Cracking open a fresh pack of Hearthstone cards feels good. Until, of course, it’s loaded with dupes or unwanted cards. Still, for a few brief moments, there’s a nice sense of anticipation. That’s what a new Hearthstone animated short is celebrating, along with a date for a free pack of cards.

hearthstone animated short

The video definitely puts the “short” in “animated short”, coming in at just over a minute-and-a-half. That said, it further focuses on the characters of the Hearthstone Tavern that were first introduced in the Hearth and Home video that was released in August of last year.

In the short, Ava experiences her first New Pack Day at the Tavern, watching as the patrons each crack into their new pack of cards in their own…unique ways. The video also manages the neat trick of somehow making a Murloc adorable, because these are skilled animators who should be producing animated films already.

As for the free pack of cards thing, players who log in on Wednesday, June 13th can claim their own free Golden Classic Pack that’s full of all-golden cards. Until then, feel free to peek inside the Tavern in the video embed below.

Our Thoughts

While some are likely going to only take away the fact that they’re getting a free pack of cards, we’re going to take a moment to focus on that adorable little Murloc. Like, seriously guys, how in the heck did they manage to make a murderous fish-beast look that adorable? It’s sickening!

Source: official site

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Development of The Elder Scrolls: Legends Changes Hands

Fans of The Elder Scrolls: Legends are being duly informed that the development of the online CCG is being passed to a new company. An announcement on the game’s Steam page has confirmed the new TES Legends developer and offered a bit of an explanation as to why.

new tes legends developer

From this point forward, development of TES Legends will be handed over from Dire Wolf Digital to Sparkypants Studios, a group of “seasoned developers with a deep bench of experience across multiple genres and platforms” according to the announcement.

The shift in developers is meant to better support TES Legends and provide regular updates to the online CCG, which includes work on previously discussed features and mechanics. “We believe that this move allows us to deliver on the promise of Legends to our players in the best possible way under Bethesda’s guidance and direction,” explains the post.

The post also offers an FAQ that assures fans that this move isn’t indicative of the health of TES Legends. “Legends is a game enjoyed by a vast number of players all over the world, with a passionate and dedicated community,” reads the post. “This transition is indicative only of our commitment to the long-term health and growth of the game.”

Our Thoughts

The proof, ultimately, will be in the pudding that Sparkypants Studios stirs together, but we can certainly trust that Bethesda knows what it’s doing in terms of handing over dev duties to an entirely different studio. Does this announcement concern you, or are you hoping this will lead to good things for the CCG?

Source: Steam

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