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Dota 2 Will Be Free-To-Play… “With A Twist”

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Ever since Dota 2 was announced in October of 2010, many have speculated on what pricing model it’ll use. Its primary rival, League of Legends, is free-to-play, and given Valve’s recent successes in the F2P market, many thought Valve, IceFrog and Eul’s action RTS sequel to the 2003 WC3 mod would also sport such a funding model. While content from Dota 2’s leaked client indicated the presence of optional cosmetic skins, as well as some sort of specialized store for these cosmetic items, the jury was still out. Right up until now.

Dota 2 Will Be Free-To-Play… “With A Twist”

In yet another excerpt from a yet to be posted, hour-long audio interview with SevenDayCooldown, Gabe Newell discussed Dota 2’s monetary model, revealing that it would be free-to-play, albeit with a twist, which will make it the first game to use such a model:

“It’s going to be free-to-play — it’ll have some twists, but that’s the easiest way for people to think about it.”

Since Dota 2 is a love-or-hate title for most gamers (action RTS isn’t exactly the most accessible genre around), this is definitely a very good call. With regards to what kind of twists these might be, Gabe said:

“The issue that we’re struggling with quite a bit is something I’ve kind of talked about before, which is how do you properly value people’s contributions to a community? We’re trying to figure out ways so that people who are more valuable to everybody else [are] recognized and accommodated. We all know people where if they’re playing we want to play, and there are other people where if they’re playing we would [rather] be on the other side of the planet. It’s just a question of coming up with mechanisms that recognize and reward people who are doing things that are valuable to other groups of people.”

Gabe specified that examples of such valuable player behaviors that would lead to rewards might be coaching and teaching other players, although he didn’t say how players would be identified and then rewarded. He says that to his knowledge, this is the first-ever use of such a free-to-play model in video game history. He expanded on this concept, discussing how it could spread out over multiple games:

“When you start thinking about the different games that people play and you try to think about how people can create value or a service in one game and benefit somebody in a different game, you can start to see how the different games sort knit together, how somebody who really likes Team Fortress 2 can still be creating value for somebody who is playing DOTA 2 or Skyrim, or if somebody is a creator in one space how it can translate into another. In a sense, think of individual games as instance dungeons of a larger experience, if that makes sense as a concept.”

It definitely makes sense, especially if we consider just how united the Valve community can be. After all, this is why we, and our colleagues at other community sites, do what we do. Unlike many other game companies, Valve has an entire, mostly decentralized community that might serve as a single playerbase across all or most of its games. That’s why such a system would be handy – rewarding community members for their activities or creations, regardless of what sub-community or game they do it in.

However, this isn’t going to turn Steam into some kind of alternative video game experience, or even a social network. Gabe explains:

“If I had to talk about a model, it would be more about how gamers can benefit from a collective action of all the other gamers and there are a bunch of different ways that can occur, whether from things that look like traditional social networking notifications to higher-value activities. As far as I know, Facebook doesn’t have the ability for people to fundamentally modify or edit the underlying Facebook experience. It really is more a legacy of John Carmack’s way of thinking about things than it is social networking, it’s just that now we have the horsepower and the experience in the gaming community to try and figure out how all these experiences get knit together in a way that’s valuable.”

Overall, these are some very interesting ideas and concepts, and I do hope they materialize. Still, I am interested in hearing exactly how Dota 2 will function as a F2P game. I don’t see Valve taking the pay-to-win route and selling heroes, XP/level boosts or in-game items. It’s really not Valve’s modus operandi, and they more or less know that the opposition to such a system would be huge. So let’s stay positive until we hear more – I’m sure that Valve will have reasonable solutions for all of our concerns. Besides, we’ve still got a while until Dota 2’s actual release, some time in the “summer”. Which is a loose term for Valve – we’ll probably see it some time in the September-October interval, but CS:GO (which will be a paid game) … well, possibly that same autumn interval, although December might be more appropiate. 

Source is The Verge/Polygon.


  1. me too!

  2. Also,im guessing they will add,hats,skins,and much more.
    and i hope they will add tutorials for new players,it must be a must.

  3. I got a Dota 2 beta key in the x-mas event,I couldve sold it for atleast 60 bucks.

    My life is at hell,Total hell right now.

    the game is going to be F2P

  4. I hate free to play, id rather pay for a full game than download a free one with add-on costs. It annoys me Valve do this, I thought they would of learnt after TF2.

    • I understand, but that’s not how Valve does F2P. TF2 has been more successful than ever thanks to F2P, and its main updates: maps; weapons; future game modes; and of course, hats – all remain completely free. Any costs for TF2 are completely optional, and I assume that’ll be the case for Dota 2 also.

  5. +1

  6. I just got invited to the beta!!

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