Valve made the news official with a blog post titled "The Future of Artifact". There, they cited the game's poor player count following its 2018 launch. They also explained that the low number of active players made it hard to justify to continue development on the game's reboot, which has since been renamed to Artifact Foundry.
Valve Makes Artifact Free-to-Play
Valve President Gabe Newell had initially stated that, upon launch, they would not make the game free-to-play like its competitors, as well as the title it is based on, Dota 2. In doing so, Newell hoped that it would help avoid leading to a "pay-to-win" scenario. He most likely didn't want the players with the most money to spend to end up winning most of the time.
Newell even went as far as to say that he wished for Artifact to become the Half-Life 2 of card games.
Unfortunately, with the development now halted, it seems like that no longer is possible.
If it's any consolation though, this move does come with some bittersweet news: Artifact is being made free-to-play for everyone. In addition to this, Valve has also made all cards accessible to everyone for free. They've also removed card packs from the market as a result. This means that everyone is free to try our Artifact now in its entirety.
Valve also made sure to give older players who stuck through Artifact something. All Artifact Classic card packs purchased will be converted into Collector's Edition versions. These cards will remain marketable between Artifact players. However, Valve is removing Artifact from the Steam Marketplace, so this piece of news is not exactly all good.
Artifact Underdelivers and Falls Short of Expectations
As we've already mentioned, Gabe Newell had high hopes for Artifact. Initially, it seemed like Artifact would actually go on to become the game Valve promised it would become. In fact, it received positive reviews from most players and reviews.
Artifact also drummed up a lot of excitement upon launch, after Valve announced that they had planned to hold a million-dollar tournament in 2019.
Unfortunately, that never came to fruition. Valve also never really making it clear why and where the supposed money that would have been pooled towards the prize pool from the booster card pack purchases went.
Later on, Valve attempted to inject some new life into the struggling card game's community by rebooting the game. The new version would make it so that cards would be earned through gameplay instead of real money could help turn things around. Perhaps they had hoped it would have a similar effect to what other games went through in the past.
Now that they've dropped support for Artifact, the chances of Valve's take on the card game genre recovering is close to none.