Magic The Gathering creator and Artifact designer affected by Valve layoffs

Magic: The Gathering creator Richard Garfield has confirmed he and fellow Wizards of the Coast colleague Skaff Elias were affected by Valve’s wave of redundancies last month after joining the company to work on its digital card game, Artifact.

We learned last week that Valve had laid off 13 permanent staff and "a portion" on contractor agreements from its VR team when former Valve employee Nat Brown announced that he had been let go on February 7th.

"We weren’t surprised by the layoff considering how rocky [Artifact’s] launch was, the team was enthusiastic about the game and were confident that they had a good product but it became clear it wasn’t going to be easy to get the game to where we wanted it," Garfield told Artifbuff (thanks, Eurogamer).

"The layoff makes sense for a number of reasons. To name a couple; now that the game is out there time is more critical, so more voices within the team that you have to navigate may not be as good as making less considered decisions faster. Another – the expertise that Three Donkeys brought is less critical after listening to us for four-plus years.

"Both Skaff and I remain optimistic about the quality of the game and have offered our feedback and advice in an ongoing gratis capacity simply because we would like to see the game do as well as we think it can," he added. "We enjoyed working with Valve and I was impressed with their relentless focus on the quality of the game and experience being offered to the player."

"Last month, 13 full-time employees were let go and a portion of our contractor agreements were terminated," Valve said in a brief statement. "It’s an unfortunate part of business, but does not represent any major changes at the company. We thank those affected for their contribution and wish them well in future endeavors."

These latest layoffs sadly come on the back of several other closures and cutbacks we’ve seen across studios and media in recent months. Techland recently shuttered Polish publishing and distribution division and Brighton-based That’s You! developer Wish Studios closed

Digital retailer GOG laid off "a dozen" positions, purported to be around 10 per cent of its workforce only a month after reportedly laying off an "undisclosed number" of staff from its American San Mateo studio, Iron Tiger Studios, South Korean online game publisher NCSoft has announced it will be making "staff reductions" at Guild Wars 2 developer, ArenaNet, too. Finnish studio Next Games recently announced it is laying off 26 staff after it reviewed "the cost structure of the company’s operations", and Activision recently laid off 8 per cent of its staff – 775 people.

Other closures include AER Memories of Old developer, Forgotten Key, Islands of Nyne: Battle Royale developer, Define Human Studios, Daybreak, Starbreeze, Bandai Namco Vancouver, and Trion Worlds, best known for its MMO games. Telltale Games laid off the majority of its staff in a ‘majority studio closure’ back in September. The media too has been affected, with the shuttering of leading strategy guides publisher Prima Games and Future’s GamesMaster and games™ magazines.

Following a rocky launch, Valve had to revise part of the monetisation strategy of its new digital card game, Artifact, following a backlash from fans. Since then, however, there’s been very little further information or news about the card game.

About Vikki Blake

It took 15 years of civil service monotony for Vikki to crack and switch to writing about games. She has since become an experienced reporter and critic working with a number of specialist and mainstream outlets in both the UK and beyond, including Eurogamer, GamesRadar+, IGN, MTV, and Variety.

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