With the stage set for The International 3 (August 7 to 11), the biggest Dota 2 (Defense of the Ancients 2) tournament with more than 2 million dollars in prizes, Valve is finally ready to unveil its product to the public. The game has been in beta for nearly two years while the developers at Valve have slowly but surely been adding more content to the game. While it would take a beta invite to play the game at its current state, Valve has stated that once the game officially launches, it will follow a free-to-play
model similar to that of Valve’s Team Fortress 2. Similarly, Dota 2 will also feature a community driven cosmetic market, allowing its players to buy and collect cosmetics for their various heroes and also publish their own cosmetic items on the marketplace. Dota 2 at its release will feature action-RTS style multiplayer combat with 2 teams of 5 players facing off against each other in a fight to destroy the opposing team’s “Ancient.” Players will pick their hero from an astounding pool of 101 heroes in order to do combat with their opposing counterparts. With 5 players on each side, Dota 2 emphasizes the necessity of teamwork and coordination rather than individual skill.
The International 3 features 16 professional teams from all around the world competing for the coveted million dollar champion’s prize. It not only is the biggest E-sports event for Dota fans in the entire year, but it also serves as a major marketing venue for the game. The huge prize pool and the international interest in this event will no doubt spark public interest in Dota 2 just after it is officially released. Dota 2 has had a relatively successful run as a competitive E-sport, taking up one of the big three in viewer numbers alongside League of Legends and Starcraft 2. Valve has been incredibly supportive of Dota 2 as an E-sports, knowing that Dota 2’s core audience (like its predecessor) is very much centered in its more hardcore fanbase. Along with arranging and hosting The International 3, Valve has taken steps to produce their own documentary based on the events of The International 1 and 2 to spark more interest in the gaming community.
One of the major concerns about the success of the game revolves around its audience appeal and market penetrance. Dota (and Dota 2) is notorious for its steep learning curve, high information requirement, and hardcore fanbase. Whether it will be able to attract the casual fanbase remains to be seen. Valve has taken steps to make tutorial maps and missions to guide new players to getting better at the game, but only time will tell if the casual audience is receptive to these tutorial guides. It will also take a helpful and supportive Dota 2 community to enable a smoother transition for casual players, so much of the burden should also be placed on the current players.
Another concern that Valve wrote about is the capacity of their servers to handle the influx of new players after release. Dota 2 has the largest community for a game on Steam, and Valve will be very wary about its growing numbers after release, making sure that the servers are stable enough to handle large numbers of players.
All in all, there is a lot of reason to be optimistic for Dota 2 launch. Valve has handled the game with a great deal of patience and discretion, and it would be interesting to see if this investment pays off.
Dota 2 is set to release sometime before The International 3.