Opinion: The State of DOTA 2
By Bradley Lewis
With the DOTA 2 championship, The International 4, coming to a close this week in Seattle, much has been published about DOTA 2 and its impact on the gaming world. In many respects, DOTA has taken over a lot of the video game chatter because of the huge success of the International’s prize pool. If you do not know, the prize pool for the International this year was $10.9 million. Yes, it was almost $11 million for a video game tournament. A sentence that I did not envision writing for a long time.
DOTA 2 has become a vastly successful game, but still not on the level of participating players as League of Legends. During the International, the number of players of DOTA 2 has seen an increase. During the week of July 9-16, the total peak amount on DOTA 2 ranged from about 750,000-900,000 players per day. Those are staggering numbers and a statement to the success of the game. It has had well over 20 million players worldwide and with the success of the International 4, it is not unreasonable to see those numbers increase in the next few weeks.
However, there is another side to DOTA 2 and it is a way in which the game is quite successful. Some of you may not know, but DOTA 2 is a game that you can play for free. The model that they have based the game around is that you can play every single aspect of the game without spending anything on it. There is basically nothing you can pay for to make you any better, and it is an insane idea because you can play for a hundred hours and not pay a dime. I know this to be true because I did it. I did not pay a penny on this game until I had played over 120 hours, which is something that I never thought I would have seen in this industry. It is the free to play model that many, including me, hope to see more and more games accommodate into the structure of their projects.
Everyone go mid
DOTA 2 has a very active online community and in which there is much desire for the cosmetic items that Valve uses to make money off of the game. These cosmetic items give different clothes, weapons, and skins to the various heroes and even couriers in DOTA. Valve has actually struck gold with these cosmetic items, because the demand is quite high for certain ones, and, sometimes, the supply is very limited.
About a week ago, I bought the first series of blind box plush toys in a twelve pack with the secret shop box as well. In each of these blind boxes you receive one of eleven random plushes or plushies. Along with these little plushes is a card for an in-game item. The plushes, themselves, are pretty cool, but the in-game items are the focus. The reason that these in-game items are so important is the demand that exists inside the DOTA community. The only way you can receive certain cosmetic in-game items is to get them through cards that come with these plushes. Therefore, this has caused a high demand for the items. The cards are called Luckless Lockboxes for the first series of plushes and they give you a random chance at acquiring one of a certain set of items, some of which are more valuable than others. One of the items, a set of shoulder pads for the character named Invoker goes for around $35.00 on the Steam market.
They are ganking on top
One of the plushes that you can randomly get in the Blind Boxes is a special wizard looking plush that comes with the Luckless Lockbox card and an additional card for a special in-game courier. This courier is also valuable to the community, which means it is worth around $35.00 as well.
I received many different items from my plushes and then took all the valuable items and put them up on the Steam Market for sell. (For those that may be wondering, Steam has market for the community to sell unwanted and valuable items that they receive in the games that are attached to their marketplace.) Over the course of one day I made back all the money that I spent on the plushes plus some profit. This is of course after the fee that Valve has placed on selling the items on their Market. For each item sold on the Market, Valve takes a cut of the money since they provide the service. These fees add up quite quickly as well, which makes them quite a lot of money off the reselling of items that they sold you initially. They are in essence double, triple, etc. dipping and making money on every time the items are sold which is a very lucrative revenue stream for them. I do give them major credit for finding ways to make money off of a game that they will let you play completely for free.
Report Drow for Feeding
Now that the International 4 has ended, the Steam Market has been flooded with new items that are for a limited time only available at the Secret Shop at the International in Seattle. Soon the items will be up for sale to the general public online from Valve, but those that have already resold their items on Ebay and other sites have gained a large profit since thousands are looking to buy the items but are not able to go to Seattle. Items that were bought at the International for $40.00 are easily going on the internet for $60.00+. Needless to say that DOTA 2 has caused a massive demand for their items. The supply is just not keeping up, and, therefore, causing the prices to increase dramatically on resell sites. Capitalism at its best.
Valve has done a wonderful job of creating a craze for DOTA 2. It is not just a video game any longer. It has become one of the premier e-sports. It just awarded the largest prize in e-sports history to Newbee for winning The International 4 championship. There is a massive fan base for DOTA and Valve has done a good job of presenting their product to the world. They even had a Sunday night half-hour special on ESPN 2 about the championship that was held today. After going throughout the various ways of watching the International, a rough number of about 800,000 people were watching the streams online during the third game this afternoon. It is hard to calculate exactly how many total people that works out to since many were watching in large groups worldwide, but the numbers were most likely very good for Valve and the International.
Now that the International 4 has ended, and Newbee has been crowned champions, we can look forward to changes might be coming to DOTA 2. We know that the new playable character "Techies" is coming soon in an update since they were revealed at the All-Star game that took place at the International. There will likely also be some other meta-game changes coming as well; now that they have seen the state of the professional game and there is a certain style of play that has seemed to triumph throughout the tournament.
What a bunch of tryhards
The good thing about DOTA 2 is that with the updates and addition of new characters, the game does change. Every update brings a new play style and new ways of playing certain heroes. The patches that come out affect the way people play, and with the renewed fervor for DOTA2, it is exciting to be a fan of the game at this time. There is a large demand for the physical merchandise, as well as the in-game items. It is yet to be seen if this current system will make DOTA 2 even more popular, but the initial returns seem to be pointing that way and I think that is a good thing for the MOBA genre.
Overall, the state of DOTA 2 seems to be improving. They had a successful championship tournament and increased their exposure to the world. DOTA's core fan base is large and growing as we speak to continue the trend of the community growing year after year. It is a great time to be a player of DOTA 2 and if you have not tried the game then now is a good time to start. I leave you with a simple message to Valve in the DOTA 2 fashion:
If you would like to see any of the items from this year's International click on the link here. Most of this is community generated content that Valve selected to sell at this year's tournament.