Valve Parts Ways With Artifact Creator Richard Garfield, Lays off 13 Others

Late last week, Valve confirmed to Variety that it had laid off 13 employees and a number of its contractors, one of which was lead Artifact designer and Magic: The Gathering creator Richard Garfield.

According to an an email Garfield sent to Artifact fan site Artibuff, both he and Skaff Elias (the two of which make up a game design consulting company called Three Donkeys) were among the contractors let go by Valve, a decision Garfield said “makes sense for a number of reasons.”

You see Garfield play a match of Artifact with me in the video below:

Garfield explained that they “weren’t surprised by the layoff considering how rocky [Artifact’s] launch was.” Artifact released in late November to general praise – I gave it an 8.5 in my review, and still think it’s a very unique and fun digital card game – but issues stemming partially from its progression and economy caused its player base to fall off rapidly. In the last 30 days, its average concurrent players has been less than 600.

While Garfield maintains they were confident with Artifact, he said “it became clear it wasn’t going to be easy to get the game to where we wanted it.” He explained that the decision to lay Three Donkeys off made sense partly because their expertise was less valuable after working with Valve closely for more than four years, and partly because it will be important for the Artifact team to make decisions more quickly post-launch, which is harder to do with more voices chiming in.

November 25, 1998
Anyway, those are some of the things that make Half-Life tick. It questions genre elements and reworks them or discards them as appropriate in order to make a smoother, more engrossing game. It constantly presents you with variety, surprises, and new challenges to keep you hooked. It is a tour de force in game design, the definitive single player game in a first person shooter. Don\u0027t cheat yourself; play this game.”,”height”:720,”width”:1280,”url”:”https:\/\/assets1.ignimgs.com\/2018\/11\/28\/valve1-1543440839858.jpg”,”styleUrl”:”https:\/\/assets1.ignimgs.com\/2018\/11\/28\/valve1-1543440839858_{size}.jpg”,”credit”:””,”objectRelationName”:””,”objectRelationUrl”:””,”albumName”:”Every IGN Valve Game Review Ever”,”relativePosition”:”02″,”albumTotalCount”:25},{“caption”:”Reviewed by Doug Perry
November 16, 2001
All in all, Half-Life is the best first-person shooter on PlayStation 2 to date, tying Red Faction in score because of its rather old age (like I said, it is three years old). Gearbox has performed beautifully on every level in its delivery of the brilliant PC game; I would go as far as to say that this is the best PC port I have ever seen on a console. So yeah, if you own a PS2 and you dig first-person shooters, you should absolutely do yourself the favor and get a copy of Half-life ASAP.”,”height”:720,”width”:1280,”url”:”https:\/\/assets1.ignimgs.com\/2018\/11\/28\/valve2-1543440839860.jpg”,”styleUrl”:”https:\/\/assets1.ignimgs.com\/2018\/11\/28\/valve2-1543440839860_{size}.jpg”,”credit”:””,”objectRelationName”:””,”objectRelationUrl”:””,”albumName”:”Every IGN Valve Game Review Ever”,”relativePosition”:”03″,”albumTotalCount”:25},{“caption”:”Reviewed by Vincent Lopez
November 24, 1999
Half Life was my favorite PC game of the year, and OF does a fantastic job of making you remember exactly why you enjoyed the original so much. But that\u0027s unfortunately also its biggest drawback. You\u0027ll experience a lot of the same features and frights that you did in the original, and while it was a stomach-churning experience in the first game, it feels like familiar territory in the second. That\u0027s not to say that there aren\u0027t a hefty share of scares in OF — just that, for most of the game, you\u0027ll know exactly what you\u0027re up against. The ninjas, the army battles, the head crabs crawling around in air ducts… it\u0027s all back, in the now-classic Half-Life style. As an add-on pack, it\u0027s well worth the price of admission, but as a full priced game (it\u0027s selling at retail for around $40), you may find yourself wishing for a more original experience. Me? I was just happy to spray some spores over innocent Houndeyes. But does any of this even matter? Half-Life junkies, you know why you\u0027ll buy this game, despite some red-headed freak telling you that maybe you might kinda maybe want to think about the purchase. Believe me, I\u0027d do the same thing. Opposing Forces may not be the next step up in the Half-Life saga, but it\u0027s certainly travelling down the same gore-strewn corridors.”,”height”:720,”width”:1280,”url”:”https:\/\/assets1.ignimgs.com\/2018\/11\/28\/valve3-1543440839860.jpg”,”styleUrl”:”https:\/\/assets1.ignimgs.com\/2018\/11\/28\/valve3-1543440839860_{size}.jpg”,”credit”:””,”objectRelationName”:””,”objectRelationUrl”:””,”albumName”:”Every IGN Valve Game Review Ever”,”relativePosition”:”04″,”albumTotalCount”:25},{“caption”:”Reviewed by Clayton Wolfe
November 22, 2000
In a nutshell, if you\u0027re looking for the next step in online first person shooters, then look no further. CS is fast paced, intense, and satisfying–this game will not disappoint. This is truly one of the best mods for one of the all time greatest first person shooters ever, and the retail package of CS is simply bursting with multiplayer goodness. If you like to play shooters online, get this pack!”,”height”:720,”width”:1280,”url”:”https:\/\/assets1.ignimgs.com\/2018\/11\/28\/valve4-1543441647709.jpg”,”styleUrl”:”https:\/\/assets1.ignimgs.com\/2018\/11\/28\/valve4-1543441647709_{size}.jpg”,”credit”:””,”objectRelationName”:””,”objectRelationUrl”:””,”albumName”:”Every IGN Valve Game Review Ever”,”relativePosition”:”05″,”albumTotalCount”:25},{“caption”:”Reviewed by Aaron Boulding
November 18, 2003
You may have read this before, but Counter-Strike is a lot like Michael Jordan in a Wizards jersey. The greatness of the name is undeniable, but nowadays they\u0027re both merely competitive. This game is a must have like a 2002-2003 Jordan trading card.”,”height”:720,”width”:1280,”url”:”https:\/\/assets1.ignimgs.com\/2018\/11\/28\/valve5-1543440839861.jpg”,”styleUrl”:”https:\/\/assets1.ignimgs.com\/2018\/11\/28\/valve5-1543440839861_{size}.jpg”,”credit”:””,”objectRelationName”:””,”objectRelationUrl”:””,”albumName”:”Every IGN Valve Game Review Ever”,”relativePosition”:”06″,”albumTotalCount”:25},{“caption”:”Reviewed by Tal Blevins
June 12, 2001
On the good side of things, Blue Shift does give the aging Half-Life engine a bit of a facelift with the High Definition Pack (HDP). One of the biggest draws for Half-Life fans will be the HDP, because it boosts the visual quality both the character models and weapons in Blue Shift as well as in the original Half-Life and Opposing Force. Speaking of Opposing Force, a full copy of the expansion is included with Blue Shift, so while there are no new multiplayer options to extend your gaming dollar, at least you can lengthen your play time with OpFor if you don\u0027t already own it. And those of you who do will be happy to hear that Sierra is offering a $10 rebate if you send in your Opposing Force CD.”,”height”:720,”width”:1280,”url”:”https:\/\/assets1.ignimgs.com\/2018\/11\/28\/valve6-1543440839862.jpg”,”styleUrl”:”https:\/\/assets1.ignimgs.com\/2018\/11\/28\/valve6-1543440839862_{size}.jpg”,”credit”:””,”objectRelationName”:””,”objectRelationUrl”:””,”albumName”:”Every IGN Valve Game Review Ever”,”relativePosition”:”07″,”albumTotalCount”:25},{“caption”:”Reviewed by Steve Butts
May 23, 2003
Ultimately, I\u0027ll still stick with Battlefield 1942 for the wider options it affords in terms of character classes and vehicles as well as the more fluid nature of the battle afforded by the larger, more open maps. But anytime I grow weary of waiting for a plane to spawn or start feeling frustrated by the lulls in the action, Day of Defeat is right there to provide an instant and amazingly intense action fix.”,”height”:720,”width”:1280,”url”:”https:\/\/assets1.ignimgs.com\/2018\/11\/28\/valve7-1543440839862.jpg”,”styleUrl”:”https:\/\/assets1.ignimgs.com\/2018\/11\/28\/valve7-1543440839862_{size}.jpg”,”credit”:””,”objectRelationName”:””,”objectRelationUrl”:””,”albumName”:”Every IGN Valve Game Review Ever”,”relativePosition”:”08″,”albumTotalCount”:25},{“caption”:”Reviewed by Steve Butts
March 23, 2004
Forty bucks? I could see giving this a hearty (well, hearty-ish) recommendation at half that price but forty dollars is a bit steep for what you\u0027re getting here. Gamers who don\u0027t already own the frenetic Counter-Strike should be attracted to this new game as a good introduction that helps them transition into serious online competitors. Gamers who already accomplished Counter-Strike players will find the offline component somewhat novel but not indispensable. It certainly doesn\u0027t do enough to compete with today\u0027s shooters and the fact that much of the game is already available in another format makes this version seem a bit redundant.”,”height”:720,”width”:1280,”url”:”https:\/\/assets1.ignimgs.com\/2018\/11\/28\/valve8-1543440839863.jpg”,”styleUrl”:”https:\/\/assets1.ignimgs.com\/2018\/11\/28\/valve8-1543440839863_{size}.jpg”,”credit”:””,”objectRelationName”:””,”objectRelationUrl”:””,”albumName”:”Every IGN Valve Game Review Ever”,”relativePosition”:”09″,”albumTotalCount”:25},{“caption”:”Reviewed by Dan Adams
November 15, 2004
If you\u0027re a fan of Half-Life, action games in general, or are looking for a way to get into PC gaming, this is it. It\u0027ll hook you, reel you in, and hold you captive for serious hours of hardcore brilliance. This is gaming at its best and shows that the future holds no bounds when the might of technology, precision of design, and touch of artistry work in tandem.”,”height”:720,”width”:1280,”url”:”https:\/\/assets1.ignimgs.com\/2018\/11\/28\/valve9-1543440839863.jpg”,”styleUrl”:”https:\/\/assets1.ignimgs.com\/2018\/11\/28\/valve9-1543440839863_{size}.jpg”,”credit”:””,”objectRelationName”:””,”objectRelationUrl”:””,”albumName”:”Every IGN Valve Game Review Ever”,”relativePosition”:10,”albumTotalCount”:25},{“caption”:”Reviewed by Doug Perry
November 11, 2005
Having said all that, if you don\u0027t have a billion dollar PC set-up and you\u0027re itching for this fall\u0027s knockout title? Um, yeah: Half-Life 2 is it. Get it, own it, and you will be a happy, enriched person. If you haven\u0027t played the PC version, then there really isn\u0027t much to say except get it. The story itself is worthy of great praise, but the way it\u0027s implemented into the gameplay, along with amazingly fresh missions that all blend into one another, make this easily one of the best games on Xbox this year, if not the best.”,”height”:720,”width”:1280,”url”:”https:\/\/assets1.ignimgs.com\/2018\/11\/28\/valve10-1543440839864.jpg”,”styleUrl”:”https:\/\/assets1.ignimgs.com\/2018\/11\/28\/valve10-1543440839864_{size}.jpg”,”credit”:””,”objectRelationName”:””,”objectRelationUrl”:””,”albumName”:”Every IGN Valve Game Review Ever”,”relativePosition”:11,”albumTotalCount”:25},{“caption”:”Reviewed by Tom Mcnamara
September 27, 2005
I expect to be playing DoD a lot more than CS:S. In fact, I\u0027ve found it to be a more satisfying game than Battlefield 2, which suffered from a lack of servers at launch, a lack of ranked servers, rank exploits, strange performance issues, high system requirements, air superiority, and a frankly rudimentary and partially arcane server browser implementation. Load times also leave BF2 in the dust. On the other hand, there\u0027s only a small handful of DoD:S maps to go around, and the community will likely be waiting on pins and needles for the next batch. So although I dig the game, I have to rate it as-is, and there frankly isn&#Array;t a lot of content to go around, as great as that content is. I recommend DoD:S to the multiplayer action crowd, but don\u0027t come crying to me when things start getting stale.”,”height”:720,”width”:1280,”url”:”https:\/\/assets1.ignimgs.com\/2018\/11\/28\/valve11-1543440839865.jpg”,”styleUrl”:”https:\/\/assets1.ignimgs.com\/2018\/11\/28\/valve11-1543440839865_{size}.jpg”,”credit”:””,”objectRelationName”:””,”objectRelationUrl”:””,”albumName”:”Every IGN Valve Game Review Ever”,”relativePosition”:12,”albumTotalCount”:25},{“caption”:”Reviewed by Tom Mcnamara
June 1, 2006
When it comes down to it, you should like Episode One if you liked Half-Life 2. Despite the fact that it isn\u0027t as adventurous or dramatic as HL2, Episode One still offers quality that\u0027s a cut above the rest. Its humanity (in the face of strange, masked soldiers and sometimes grotesque creatures) makes it more than a rote experience, and the Citadel is still an imaginative and interesting setting. In retrospect, HL2 appears to be a very difficult game to follow up on, and Valve does a very capable job of keeping the fire going. And buying the game on Steam is a relatively painless experience, especially compared to where the service was when HL2 launched. Judging by the material I saw in the Episode Two trailer, it looks like Valve will indeed open up the world a little. As it stands, Episode One is a brief, stylistically claustrophobic experience whose polish and personality manage to keep things moving.”,”height”:720,”width”:1280,”url”:”https:\/\/assets1.ignimgs.com\/2018\/11\/28\/valve12-1543440839866.jpg”,”styleUrl”:”https:\/\/assets1.ignimgs.com\/2018\/11\/28\/valve12-1543440839866_{size}.jpg”,”credit”:””,”objectRelationName”:””,”objectRelationUrl”:””,”albumName”:”Every IGN Valve Game Review Ever”,”relativePosition”:13,”albumTotalCount”:25},{“caption”:”Reviewed by Dan Adams
October 9, 2007
Any way you look at it, Episode Two stands out, even among the Half-Life series, as something special. It may be shorter than the original, but it\u0027s a burly experience packed into roughly six hours or so that offers up all the diversity, level design, and thoughtful gameplay we\u0027ve known while making sure to propel the story forward and leave us wanting more. We definitely think you should pick up Orange Box for Portal (or HL2 and Episode One if you haven\u0027t played them) but if you like the series, you need to play this one. This is the addition Half-Life 2 fans have been waiting for. Here\u0027s to hoping Valve can keep up the pace and give us Episode Three in the next couple of years.”,”height”:720,”width”:1280,”url”:”https:\/\/assets1.ignimgs.com\/2018\/11\/28\/valve13-1543440839867.jpg”,”styleUrl”:”https:\/\/assets1.ignimgs.com\/2018\/11\/28\/valve13-1543440839867_{size}.jpg”,”credit”:””,”objectRelationName”:””,”objectRelationUrl”:””,”albumName”:”Every IGN Valve Game Review Ever”,”relativePosition”:14,”albumTotalCount”:25},{“caption”:”Reviewed by Dan Adams
October 8, 2007
For 20 dollars, it may be a little pricey for what\u0027s there, but we certainly won\u0027t tell anybody not to buy Portal. We recommend picking this one up with the full Orange Box because it\u0027s hard to say no to another peek into this awesome universe and it does fit together with Episode Two.”,”height”:720,”width”:1280,”url”:”https:\/\/assets1.ignimgs.com\/2018\/11\/28\/valve14-1543440839867.jpg”,”styleUrl”:”https:\/\/assets1.ignimgs.com\/2018\/11\/28\/valve14-1543440839867_{size}.jpg”,”credit”:””,”objectRelationName”:””,”objectRelationUrl”:””,”albumName”:”Every IGN Valve Game Review Ever”,”relativePosition”:15,”albumTotalCount”:25},{“caption”:”Reviewed by Ryan Geddes
October 20, 2008
If you didn\u0027t play The Orange Box, you missed out on that experience, and now\u0027s your chance to do so. If you\u0027ve already played Portal, however, the draw of Still Alive is less clear-cut. If you\u0027re mainly interested in the humor and atmosphere of the original, you might be disappointed with this download. And if the puzzles are more your thing, there\u0027s definitely a lot of extra content here, but at a hefty price that PC gamers didn\u0027t have to pay.”,”height”:720,”width”:1280,”url”:”https:\/\/assets1.ignimgs.com\/2018\/11\/28\/valve15-1543440839868.jpg”,”styleUrl”:”https:\/\/assets1.ignimgs.com\/2018\/11\/28\/valve15-1543440839868_{size}.jpg”,”credit”:””,”objectRelationName”:””,”objectRelationUrl”:””,”albumName”:”Every IGN Valve Game Review Ever”,”relativePosition”:16,”albumTotalCount”:25},{“caption”:”Reviewed by Charles Onyett
October 9, 2007
Team Fortress 2 is finally available, and it\u0027s one hell of a game. With its powerful artistic style and blazingly quick, yet accessible gameplay, it\u0027s enough to melt the icy cynicism imprisoning the hearts of even the most jaded among us. That being said, it\u0027s not the most complex shooter out there, and lacks bot support for now. Still, the game\u0027s got enough to it to last for a long while, and there\u0027s a statistics system built into Steam to help keep track of everything. Buy it, load it up and let loose. It\u0027s near-impossible to be disappointed.”,”height”:720,”width”:1280,”url”:”https:\/\/assets1.ignimgs.com\/2018\/11\/28\/valve16-1543440839868.jpg”,”styleUrl”:”https:\/\/assets1.ignimgs.com\/2018\/11\/28\/valve16-1543440839868_{size}.jpg”,”credit”:””,”objectRelationName”:””,”objectRelationUrl”:””,”albumName”:”Every IGN Valve Game Review Ever”,”relativePosition”:17,”albumTotalCount”:25},{“caption”:”Reviewed by Dan Adams
October 9, 2007
Orange Box is a terrific package and truly more than the sum of its parts. We highly recommend this to anyone who loves games. If you haven\u0027t played any Half-Life 2, this is a must buy. If you\u0027ve played Half-Life 2 and are looking forward to Ep 2 and wouldn\u0027t mind checking out the other two games, we say go for it. If you only want Team Fortress 2 and have no interest in the others, you may want to get it individually. Any way you slice it, this is one hell of a deal.”,”height”:720,”width”:1280,”url”:”https:\/\/assets1.ignimgs.com\/2018\/11\/28\/valve17-1543440839868.jpg”,”styleUrl”:”https:\/\/assets1.ignimgs.com\/2018\/11\/28\/valve17-1543440839868_{size}.jpg”,”credit”:””,”objectRelationName”:””,”objectRelationUrl”:””,”albumName”:”Every IGN Valve Game Review Ever”,”relativePosition”:18,”albumTotalCount”:25},{“caption”:”Reviewed by Hilary Goldstein
October 9, 2007
There\u0027s nothing else available on any console like The Orange Box. Though you could argue that Half-Life 2 is old news by now, there are still four components of the Box brand new to consoles. That so much great content is offered at the standard single-game price is astonishing. Playing through Half-Life 2 again and then continuing on through Episodes One and Two is like batting with the \u002727 Yankees. These are Hall of Fame titles; it doesn\u0027t get much better than this. Throw in Portal, an imaginative puzzle game with a wicked sense of humor, and Team Fortress 2, one of the few multiplayer games to get the class system right, and you have a tremendous package. And all on one disc. While Portal and TF2 may not be strong enough to stand on their own, coupled with the Half-Life titles, The Orange Box really is one of the best games ever released.”,”height”:720,”width”:1280,”url”:”https:\/\/assets1.ignimgs.com\/2018\/11\/28\/valve18-1543440839869.jpg”,”styleUrl”:”https:\/\/assets1.ignimgs.com\/2018\/11\/28\/valve18-1543440839869_{size}.jpg”,”credit”:””,”objectRelationName”:””,”objectRelationUrl”:””,”albumName”:”Every IGN Valve Game Review Ever”,”relativePosition”:19,”albumTotalCount”:25},{“caption”:”Reviewed by Ryan Clements
October 9, 2007
All five games in The Orange Box are awesome, and even though we had problems here and there with some of the control choices, the experience of playing Half-Life 2 games should not be missed. Valve should be counted among the few that simply know how to tell a good story. However, the PS3 version is without a doubt inferior, so think carefully before investing the money (if you only own a PS3). The choice is yours, Mr. Freeman.”,”height”:720,”width”:1280,”url”:”https:\/\/assets1.ignimgs.com\/2018\/11\/28\/valve19-1543440839869.jpg”,”styleUrl”:”https:\/\/assets1.ignimgs.com\/2018\/11\/28\/valve19-1543440839869_{size}.jpg”,”credit”:””,”objectRelationName”:””,”objectRelationUrl”:””,”albumName”:”Every IGN Valve Game Review Ever”,”relativePosition”:20,”albumTotalCount”:25}]’

It’s important to note that this doesn’t necessarily spell death for Artifact. Moving between different projects and companies is generally what Garfield and Three Donkeys do – for example, Garfield was also the lead designer of a card game called KeyForge which he developed with Fantasy Flight Games and released right around the same time as Artifact. Valve has been notoriously silent around Artifact for the last month and a half, but a surprise patch back on January 28th ended with a line that simply said “Unchanged: Still in it for the long haul.”

That silence is not necessarily out of style for Valve either, as Jeep Barnett from the Artifact team told me back in August that the way they address feedback is by “making changes to the game and trying to ship features.” Barnett said that “rather than just speaking and saying we’re going to do this thing, we actually just go and do that thing.”

A Valve rep also said the layoffs as a whole are “an unfortunate part of business, but [do] not represent any major changes at the company.” Similarly, reportedly among the core staff layoffs were members of the VR hardware team, but Gabe Newell allegedly confirmed in an email that this “was a people thing, not a hardware thing,” further indicating that we probably shouldn’t jump to any conclusions about what it means for the developers plans.

Meanwhile, Valve has been fighting battles in a different area altogether. It recently had to bar another intentionally offensive game from Steam – a decision I agreed with, but think doesn’t solve the root of Steam’s curation problems.

Tom Marks is IGN’s Deputy Reviews Editor and resident pie maker, and he still likes card games a lot. You can follow him on Twitter.