I’m writing this article to dispel a notion I see online. Many people argue that Artifact is going to be dead before it’s even released because of Hearthstone. I’d argue that is the case for MANY of the online card games ,but I’m here to provide a differing opinion.
Let me be clear,I don’t think that Artifact is going to kill Hearthstone. Many people think that Hearthstone’s prominence means there is no room for a second online card game to exist. I’m going to outline a few reasons I disagree with is sentiment.
Tournament support from release
This is the biggest factor. Hearthstone’s tournament scene has been lacking until recently. The HCT events are the closest thing to a Magic: The Gathering Grand Prix. The first few years of Hearthstone were nothing but invitationals and small events. As of the writing of this article, there still is no timeline for an in game tournament mode. Artifact is in a position to capitalize on its core differences from Hearthstone. If it can release with a tournament mode to give the players a reason to put the time into the game, it will grow.
This is most controversial aspect of Artifact. There are many pieces on the finance of Artifact on the Subreddit, so I’ll spare the details. The finance of Artifact is actually a big reason why it can win in the long run over other online card games. In other online CCG’s the end game for most players is to get more currency to buy more cards. This creates a never ending cycle of building better decks to get more currency to get more cards to build better decks to get more curr. You get the point. This also creates an inherent wall for players who get 100% of the competitive cards. I’ve gotten burned out playing Hearthstone when I hit Legend the first few times. If you hit the top ranks in many CCG’s, your added time equity into the game doesn’t pay out. With the marketplace, you can grow the value of your account. Going infinite in events is not only inherently rewarding, it can also be financially rewarding. It only takes a quick glance into Magic: The Gathering finance to see passion of that community. In a way, the finance aspect brings in a whole other genre of player that finds it rewarding in and of itself.
I know hearthstone has Arena. Anyone who has played Magic: The Gathering Limited formats knows that Hearthstone Arena is not in the same ballpark. Arena is a great way for new players to learn the basic concepts of the game, but it does not stand up on its own as a format. In Magic: The Gathering Draft and Sealed are rich formats that are even played at the highest level. Artifact promises to deliver limited play. This not only gives players something to do with prize packs they win from tournaments, but it also varies up the ways to play the game. Hearthstone is centered around the competitive ladder and the only ways to vary the play are casual in nature. While I don’t believe that Limited play will be the most popular format in Artifact, I do believe that it will be much more impactful to the game and its economy than Arena is for Hearthstone.
Casual/ custom play
Like I previously mentioned, Hearthstone is very much focused on the competitive Standard Ladder. Tavern Brawls and Solo adventures are in Hearthstone as well, but they are specifically either 1-time or short run game modes. There are many people in the card gaming world that crave for wild, wacky, or otherwise unusual formats. Formats such as Commander, Cube Draft, 2-Headed Giant, and many other non-traditional formats in Magic:The Gathering are ways that MTG brings players looking for a different experience. Hearthstone does not have anything resembling any of those formats, and further doesn’t have any way to even replicate them in some sort of sandbox mode. Dota has a rich history in custom game modes, and while Artifact hasn’t given us anything officially to confirm that there will be customization, we do know from interviews with devs that the bounds of the game engine are essentially limitless. This leads me to believe that the game not only has the ability to do crazy combos in game, but also that the engine may be opened up for custom game modes like just about every other Valve game. This would give Valve essentially a corner on the casual online TCG/CCG market that I believe to be almost completely untapped.
The last point here has nothing at all to do with gameplay, but it nonetheless important. Dota 2 reportedly makes ~ $18 million a month for Valve, and that’s by selling cosmetics. It would be surprising if Artifact copied golden cards or tradition Foil cards in MTG. Valve is in the great position of already having a marketplace and working economy . Valve can release special packs for more money that have special card cosmetics. Valve can release crossover packs that feature anything. Dota already features everything from Final Fantasy to Rick and Morty. The opportunities to make money from fans and partners is endless.
This actually has two positive effects. The first is obvious: players have tons of options to customize the look of their decks. The second effect is a bit more subtle, but may be even more important to the economy of the game. The addition of more sought after skins and card effects will lower the price of the base versions of the card. The opening of a large number of packs will happen when there are very rare cards in the set. This leads to a lower price for the cards that are not as rare.We see this happen in MTG when there is something like Kaladesh Masterpieces in the set. The prices of those super rare cards are very high, while the other cards in the set are lower than they would be . The beauty of this is that the super rare cards will be cosmetic changes. If players don’t want to spend money on cosmetics, they don’t have to.
The long and short of this rant is that Artifact is the first game in a long time that has the opportunity to compete with Hearthstone. I don’t believe that Hearthstone is going be taken down, at least not quickly. I do believe that both can exist simultaneously, and I believe I’ve demonstrated that Artifact certainly is’t just a Hearthstone clone.
Let me know what you think at HeroesOfArtifact@gmail.com and be sure to follow me on social media below!