Thursday, December 13, 2018

"Valve—which is not publicly traded, maintains one of the smallest workforces of any firm of its prestige, and is thought to have the highest profit per employee of any American company"

"'Artifact' Isn't a Game on Steam, It's Steam in a Game"

This makes it a bit surprising—and a bit of a tragedy—that the game is being pilloried by its target audience, and, based on its already declining player base, is on a direct path to an embarrassing free-to-play resuscitation. With 10,975 reviews in on Steam, Artifact’s score is“Mixed”, which, on Steam, is a sure sign that something has gone seriously wrong. It doesn’t take a lot of searching to uncover the culprit: How Artifact is monetized.

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This poses a dilemma for reviewers. Artifact, clearly, is a flashpoint for ongoing debates about the relationship of mechanics to monetization. Artifact’s woes are not just because of how it separates players from their money, but because of how flagrantly it ties these two arenas together, the ritual of play bound and gagged to the vulgarity of buying and selling. This challenges one of the underlying assumptions of what, exactly, we’re reviewing when we review games.