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Valve: We’re making and shipping games again

Artifact, developed with the creator of Magic, coming this year

Randy Vargas/Valve
Michael McWhertor is a journalist with more than 17 years of experience covering video games, technology, movies, TV, and entertainment.

Valve founder Gabe Newell said the company, which hasn’t shipped a new, full-size game since 2013’s Dota 2, is back in the business of “making and shipping games.” Its next game, Artifact, is supposed to be released this year.

Newell spoke at a recent press event, and his quote about Valve getting back to making games comes from Geoff Keighley, who played Artifact with other members of the media. Valve’s next game is a digital card game, à la Hearthstone, based on the universe and rules of Dota 2. Artifact was announced at last year’s The International Dota 2 tournament to a somewhat mixed response.

But Artifact is being developed with the assistance of Richard Garfield, the creator of Magic the Gathering, and it will be “the first of several games that are going to be coming from us,” according to a report from PC Gamer. At the very least, it’s a sign of hope that Valve will release a brand-new game.

Fans of Valve’s work are aware that for the past few years, the company has not shown much interest in making new games — or at least, in releasing them to players. The company has certainly invested in its existing games (Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, Dota 2 and Team Fortress 2), as well as in software (Steam) and hardware (VR, Steam Controller). The investment in hardware, Newell said, has paid dividends for Valve and may offer the company an opportunity that few others have.

“We’ve always been a little bit jealous of companies like Nintendo,” Newell said, according to PC Gamer’s visit to Valve. “When Miyamoto is sitting down and thinking about the next version of Zelda or Mario, he’s thinking what is the controller going to look like, what sort of graphics and other capabilities. He can introduce new capabilities like motion input because he controls both of those things. And he can make the hardware look as good as possible because he’s designing the software at the same time that’s really going to take advantage of it. So that is something we’ve been jealous of, and that’s something that you’ll see us taking advantage of subsequently.”

Newell promised that Valve was working on new games last year during a Reddit Ask Me Anything session, including a “fully-fledged single-player game.” We’ve heard optimistic talk about new Valve games like that before from Newell, though, couched in a way that hints we’re never going to get a proper Half-Life sequel.

“The only reason we’d go back and do like a super classic kind of product is if a whole bunch of people just internally at Valve said they wanted to do it and had a reasonable explanation for why [they did],” Newell said during a one-off podcast with Keighley in 2015.

“... We think at the end of the day customers are going to be really happy with where we spent our time and how we’ve turned that into entertainment for them. But we’re also going to build on what we’ve learned ... and we’ve learned a lot. We’re not going to go all retro because there are too many interesting things that have been learned.”

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