Creators Of Valve's Artifact Digital Trading Card Game Among Workers Laid Off

Last week we talked about the small round of layoffs at Valve that mostly affected workers from the virtual reality (VR) division. Valve maintained at the time that the reduction in workers didn't mean it was abandoning the VR space. In addition to the 13 Valve employees who were terminated, Valve also shed some contractors by not renewing their contracts. We have now learned that among those contractors let go were Richard Garfield and Skaff Elias.


Garfield and Elias are two of the people who make up the consulting company called Three Donkeys and are the creators of the Valve game Artifact. Valve teased the launch of Artifact back in the summer of 2017. Garfield talked about being let go, noting that the decision "makes sense for a number of reasons." In an email sent by Garfield to an Artifact fan site, he explained that the layoff wasn't a surprise "considering how rocky" the launch of Artifact was.

Artifact has had issues, despite receiving good reviews and having a decent fanbase at launch. Among the big issues for the game were issues with progression and the game economy. The problems led to the player base falling off rapidly, in the last month the game has had less than 600 concurrent players. Garfield maintains that they are confident in the game, but it was clear it wasn't "going to be easy to get the game to where we wanted it."

Garfield noted that the layoff was no surprise in part because after working with Valve for four years, the expertise Three Donkeys brought to the table was less valuable. He also noted that with fewer voices chiming in on changes, Valve would be able to change the game faster to get it where it needs to be. The layoff of Three Donkeys doesn't mean the game will be dropped, despite that Valve has been quiet on the topic of Artifact. A patch that landed January 28 did have a line in it that read "Unchanged: Still in it for the long haul."

Tags:  game, Business, Valve