Legendary Magic: The Gathering creator Dr. Richard Garfield says that he has been laid off from Valve as part of a recent downsizing effort at the company. Although Valve hasn't shared details about the matter, the news comes as Arifact, Valve's Dota 2-based card game which Garfield helped develop, struggles to find a continuing audience. Valve confirmed with UploadVR that it laid off 13 full-time employees in February, and the company said that it will not result in any "major changes".
Speaking to Artifbuff, Garfield revealed that he and his contract company, 3 Donkeys, have been a part of the contract agreements that Valve terminated.
"We weren't surprised by the layoff considering how rocky the launch was," Garfield said. "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."
What Garfield wrote implies that he was terminated sooner than planned and that he had originally planned to continue working on the game after launch. Garfield went on to suggest that a smaller Artifact team makes sense now that the game has been released and that Valve has probably maximized the value to be gleaned from Garfield and 3 Donkeys.
"The expertise that 3 Donkeys brought is less critical after listening to us for 4+ years," he explained. "Both [3 Donkeys co-founder] Skaff [Elias] 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."
Garfield's departure from Artifact has fans of Artifact concerned about the game's future but this doesn't necessarily spell death for the game. Garfield and 3 Donkeys usually move between different companies and projects – for example, Garfield also worked as a lead designer of a card game called KeyForge which he developed with Fantasy Flight Games.