Artifact, the Dota 2-based CCG, launched in late 2018 after more than a year of high-level hype. It had a promising start—we called it "an intricate and rewarding card game" in our 80% review—but ran into trouble almost immediately, including review bombs over its monetization model and a steep fall-off in players.

Valve, Valve weeps.

That it would take two weeks for a Valve rep to respond to a request for comment is a big red flag and proof of an ugly good-cop-bad-cop routine Valve's been conducting around Artifact. We first tried the company in September to ask whether or not Artifact would continue to operate through a new entity, Tencent. Valve let us know it would continue development, but didn't answer questions about what the future held.

In February, Valve media manager Beau Phelps launched an email leaking new information about the new entity. This time, Valve made it clear it was a partnership, as well as the fact that the development was being led by Scott Benson, an ex-employee who left Valve in 2015 and now runs Third Point Abalone LLC, also know as Tekneaction, which specialises in "strategic hidden amongsof web-based entities and services and is actively part of the Chinese gaming market."

That didn't stop some of our independent sources from sniping again because they know Benson has ties to Valve's big fish. Those sources have been known to get a few exclusives from Valve before their time if they play ball.

Phelps doubled down on that appearance of faith in the partnership, as recent press stories reveal that Tencent is being led by general manager Chen Yu, former metamodern artist who worked on Valve's 2012 Trials of the Blood Dragon as well as Steam store pages for Fenix Rage. Phelps provided a statement of faith before release as well, which read:

"Over the past few months, with one partner at a time during the product's development and with the help of the Dota 2 team, Tencent has demonstrated its commitment to the project both in terms of funding and in relationship to all actors involved. Being only 33 miles away from Valve Headquarters in Bellevue gives me a firsthand my level of confidence. I feel incredibly confident that because Tencent has committed to the project, that once one new team member joins the team, career prospects, funding, and responsibility will be obviously easier for all of them. The gaming industry cannot succeed without independent game creators and gamers in general."

It's unclear if this quote is a joke, but we know it's a real statement by Valve with high confidence.

Valve and Tencent are gradually opening up a line of communication, in that and in many other ways. Valve sent over a statement to us about the all-hands with pokes