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Game designer Richard Garfield was laid off from Valve as part of recent downsizing efforts at the company, according to “Artifact” site Artibuff.

The layoffs come as Valve’s “Dota 2”-based card game “Artifact” continues to operate on shaky ground, searching for ways to resonate with a sluggish audience. Speaking with Artibuff, Garfield says the team wasn’t “surprised,” considering how “rocky” the game’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,” explained Garfield. He opined in a statement to Artibuff that perhaps a smaller team would make more sense given that the game’s already out in the wild, and Valve had gotten its money’s worth, so to speak, out of Garfield’s company Three Donkeys.

“The expertise that 3 Donkeys brought is less critical after listening to us for 4+ years,” said Garfield. “Both Skaff [Three Donkeys co-founder] 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. 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.”

“Artifact” launched in Nov. 2018 with a sizable amount of players upon its debut. However, player numbers have sharply declined since then, with only around 500 players online throughout last week, according to SteamDB. It hasn’t received any sort of updates since Jan. 28, and Valve has kept mum regarding any future plans for the game. With Garfield having exited the picture, it leaves the future of “Artifact” somewhat uncertain.

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