We already knew that Dota 2 will be a free-to-play release, yes. – but we never did get an official announcement. Well… it would appear that Valve have just provided us with that after all… and then some. Read on!
In a just-released great big blog post over at the Dota 2 blog, Valve have announced that Dota 2 will be a F2P game, utilizing micro-transaction for the distribution of in-game cosmetic items, to allow players to customize Dota’2 Heroes, much like Valve’s very own Team Fortress 2. This system is dubbed: the “Spoils of War”, and this is its special webpage.
This also heralded the opening of the “Dota Store“, which is, of course, Dota 2′s in-game cosmetic item store. There are currently almost 200 items in the Dota Store… and you can actually buy them all, right now. They’ll stay with you even as the game is released, so don’t fret!
The thing is… you can buy items right now, even if you’re not in the beta. And since the game’s free-to-play, when it’s out you’ll get all the stuff you previously bought. Think of it as pre-ordering on crack. In fact, you can even buy the Dota 2 Early Access Bundle from the Store, to get access to the game right now. It’s a bit pricey, but that’s because it also includes a whole bunch of other game items.
Even so, cosmetic items will not be exclusive to the Dota Store itself. According to the brand new “Spoils of War” page, as well as the new “Spoils of War” frequently-asked-questions page, both of which feature even more info on Dota 2′s micro-transaction features, you will be able to receive in-game items by simply playing the game (random drops, I assume); or by trading; or through increasing your Dota 2 Battle Level (playing in match-making games will reward you with Battle Points, and if you earn enough of them, your Dota profile’s Battle Level will increase).
That said, this is only the beginning for the Dota Store, for Valve have also opened Dota 2′s Steam Workshop. Apparently, over 80% of the 200 items already in the Store are community-made, and this is probably nothing compared to what we’ll be seeing from the Workshop community in the future.
However, let’s journey back to the “Spoils of War” FAQ page for some much-needed answers. Yes – why are the Taelons here, Valve?
Q: Will I have to pay to get access to heroes?A: All of the heroes will be available free of charge. We believe restricting player access to heroes could be destructive to game design, so it’s something we plan to avoid.
Q: Won’t this hurt Dota’s competitive scene?A: All the items in the store are cosmetic, and don’t affect gameplay. In addition, we have plans for how the Dota economy can directly contribute to professional players.
Q: Why would I spend money while Dota 2 is still in Beta?
A: We don’t really think of Dota 2 as a beta, but we also aren’t ready for everyone to show up and start playing just yet. We are constantly updating the game with new heroes, bug fixes, and new features. None of the items you purchase or the progress you make will be lost or reset once the game is available for everyone.
Q: Why did you choose Free to Play?
A: We think it fits the way we build and iterate on our games over time. We (Valve and the Dota community) will be building lots of interesting things in the coming years, and learning every step of the way. The more people we have generating ideas and providing feedback, the better Dota will become.
Q: If it is Free to Play, why can’t I play now?
A: We’ve still got work to do before we can support the number of players who’ve shown interest in Dota 2. Right now we’re working on expanding our server infrastructure, which is the primary bottleneck.
And there you have it. If I were a betting man, I’d be betting on late 2012, or perhaps early 2013 for Dota 2′s full-fledged release. That said, I have to admit that all this… has gotten me slightly interested in the game. Now all it needs is tutorials and I doubt I’ll be able to tear myself off of it.