The world of digital card games is dominated by one particular genre – the CCG. Outliers like Slay the Spire and Thronebreaker: The Witcher Tales have carved their own niches, but thanks in particular to Blizzard’s efforts on Hearthstone, the Collectible Card Game – a subgenre in which developers rather than communities define the economy – is by far the most popular card game variant you can play on your PC.
While the Heroes of Warcraft and their contemporaries dominate our screens, their existence has eclipsed the games that dominated the tabletops and school playgrounds of our youth – trading card games. More than a decade before Hearthstone arrived on the scene, TCGs like Pokémon and Yu-Gi-Oh (themselves inspired by 1993’s Magic: The Gathering) had my friends and I creating our own micro-economies as we traded our physical cards with one another. Now, with the arrival of Artifact, the digital TCG could exist on the same financial scale as the CCG for the first time.
Artifact’s launch has been marred by its monetisation model, however. While RNG and complexity account for some of the negative user reviews, by far the most common complaint is the game’s ‘pay for everything’ approach.
Many fundamental parts of Artifact cost money: the game itself, individual cards, the event tickets that offer the promise of potential rewards. In the age of CCGs that give you everything, often without even an initial sale price, this is incredibly jarring.