Photo: Valve/The International

At Valve, everything happens in Valve Time—even fans learning to appreciate new games, apparently.

During last year’s DOTA 2 International tournament, Valve debuted one of history’s greatest rollercoasters when it teased a project called Artifact. Swelling music and a cool logo had people on the edge of their seats. The title appeared. Artifact. How intriguing! Valve’s first proper game announcement in ages. So many possible meanings and connotations. Valve was back, baby. It was good again. Awoouu (wolf Howl). Applause trickled in from the audience. Then the words “card game” danced across the screen. The crowd’s disappointed “AWWWWWW” erupted in a comically over-the-top fashion. I sincerely doubt it felt great to be a Valve designer that day.

One year later, things seem to have done a complete 180. Today, Gabe Newell took the International stage to announce that if people have linked their International tickets to their DOTA 2 accounts, they’ll get a free copy of Artifact. The audience went nuts.

So there’s your Cinderella story for the day. Sometimes scrappy teams at unimaginably profitable companies that have the world at their fingertips come out on top. Heartwarming!

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