Artifact designer Richard Garfield among those not working at Valve any more

In February, Valve laid off 13 of its full-time employees and an unknown number of its contractors. "It’s an unfortunate part of business, but does not represent any major changes at the company," Valve said in a statement.

Artifact fan blog Artibuff reached out to Richard Garfield, who served as that game's designer under contract, to see if he was one of those terminated. Garfield replied, and explained that both members of the 3 Donkeys design team—himself and Skaff Elias, former vice president of Wizards of the Coast—were no longer under contract at Valve.

"We weren't surprised by the layoff considering how rocky the launch was," he wrote, "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. 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 3 donkeys brought is less critical after listening to us for 4+ years."

Garfield is positive about the future of Artifact, however. "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. 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's player numbers have dropped drastically since its launch, and it's hard to see how Valve could turn it around at this point.

Jody Macgregor
Weekend/AU Editor

Jody's first computer was a Commodore 64, so he remembers having to use a code wheel to play Pool of Radiance. A former music journalist who interviewed everyone from Giorgio Moroder to Trent Reznor, Jody also co-hosted Australia's first radio show about videogames, Zed Games. He's written for Rock Paper Shotgun, The Big Issue, GamesRadar, Zam, Glixel, Five Out of Ten Magazine, and, whose cheques with the bunny logo made for fun conversations at the bank. Jody's first article for PC Gamer was about the audio of Alien Isolation, published in 2015, and since then he's written about why Silent Hill belongs on PC, why Recettear: An Item Shop's Tale is the best fantasy shopkeeper tycoon game, and how weird Lost Ark can get. Jody edited PC Gamer Indie from 2017 to 2018, and he eventually lived up to his promise to play every Warhammer videogame.