Twitch’s Artifact streaming directory seems to have taken on a life of its own since the game collapsed.
Valve released Artifact last November to a stunned gaming audience. They weren’t stunned that the game was so great: on the contrary, Artifact was lambasted as being a more complicated digital card game than anybody cared to learn, and on top of that, some of the game’s monetization smacked of pay-to-win (certain cards could only be purchased or obtained by an online draft and trading them wasn’t allowed).
As such, Artifact turned out to be the biggest flop in Valve history. After launching with a playerbase of 60,000, the great majority of those players left over the following 2 months to have just 1,500 players as of March. Today, Artifact has a peak player count of just 276 over the last 30 days.
It’s bad enough that Valve has stopped providing regular updates and will instead take a step back to re-evaluate Artifact and fix some of its deep-seated issues.
The complete collapse of Artifact’s playerbase has, surprisingly, not resulted in a similar collapse of the game’s Twitch directory. Instead, the Artifact directory has been repurposed to stream almost anything but the game itself, and some of those streams are definitely against Twitch’s terms of service.
Most “Artifact” streamers are actually streaming various other games, including Counter-Strike, DOTA2 Auto Chess, Subnautica, Path of Exile or even Artifact’s digital card game rival, Hearthstone. On top of that, you’ll also get some highly illegal streams that are showing copyrighted movies like Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers or The Avengers: Endgame.
Many of these streams are being falsely labeled as Artifact “DLC” as a sort of communal secret handshake. A few of these streams even advertise themselves to be “XXX” rated, but it looks like Twitch is pretty quick to remove those streams.
Ultimately, all of these streams are likely to be taken down eventually, but for now, Twitch’s Artifact directory is a thriving community of memes and illegal pirates. Not exactly what Valve had in mind.