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Dota

23 Jul 2018

Is Valve's commitment to Dota 2 wavering?

Is Valve's commitment to Dota 2 wavering?

Everybody knows Dota 2 is no longer a superstar in the esports industry, including Valve, but is the company really trying to get the game back on top?

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Absence of offline media

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Taking and not giving back

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The BlackBerry strategy

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It's not over yet

(Image Credit: Dota 2 The International)

If there is a term equivalent to living legend but for non-living things, Dota 2 deserves it. Dota 2 is a core piece of competitive gaming history. But it's future as such could be in quesiton.

Today, the esports scene is growing massively. It is not surprising to see big names announce esports competition events with two commas in their prize pools. Dota 2, however, is not really talked about anymore though. Except for the usual news about prize pools and the recent news about OpenAI Five, Dota 2 is no longer a spearhead in esports media.

Of course, we can't blame Dota 2 or Valve for other games' success. Nevertheless, as a part of the remaining Dota 2 community that wishes for this game's survival, we are curious of what they are doing and how hard they are trying to keep it afloat.

Let's take a look at the game's future prospects.

Absence of offline media

Overwatch was released just a couple years ago, and the developers had signed a deal to broadcast Overwatch League in ESPN, Disney and ABC channels.

Their prize pool is merely $3.5 million, one digit less than The International since 2014. However, with the potential earning from sponsorships, prize pools are not as important.

The first impression Overwatch League gives might have helped them land the deal. Compared to events from other competitive games, Overwatch League gives a rather professional vibe.

Similar to physical sports such as NFL and MLB, Overwatch League team names contain cities, which help fans bond with teams and feel the urge to root for them. Player names only use alphabets. Although the usage of capital letters are sometimes incorrect, names are easy to pronounce.

Meanwhile, sometimes I don't even know how to type Dota 2 professional players' names, names like "Somnus丶M."

Team names are also vital for another reason. Big esports organizations have competitive teams for multiple games and they often have the same name. This is a problem when people want to find information about certain teams.

Valve publications show little support for names with unique grammar and prefer to use capital letters only, but they haven't enforced the usage of proper grammar in names. Dota 2 is a game, but the professional scene still need professionalism. If modifying names can help the professional scene seem less childish, why not?

Taking and not giving back

There is a reason Fortnite developers can fund $100 million for their first competitive season, they are already making a lot more without it. Fortnite developers give back to the community. Their generosity is not solely for esports publicity stunt. Last week they also declared an increase for skin creators' royalty, from 70% to 88%.

Valve don't have a similar mindset, so we get Dota Plus this year. Role based matchmaking is also only for Battle Pass owners.

Despite earning a lot from the community, most of the time they only give to the professional scene. Not only they give prize pool allowance for all Dota Pro Circuit events, the released changes for the next season shows that they listen and care for professional players.

The rest of the community is ignored. An example of this is in Dota 2's official website's Dota Pro Circuit page. As of the time this article is being written, this is written in that page: "Last Updated: May 6, 2018". Most of the time, the community relies on third-parties to give them information, and Valve seem to take it for granted.

Partially abandoned projects are not appealing to people who take stuff seriously. Unhappy communities are not appealing to anyone. Valve need to be more involved in the community, not only demand money from them.

The BlackBerry strategy

If your age has at least two digits and the first number is at least two, you probably have heard of BlackBerry. In the era when a lot of people still don't have smartphones nor internet subscriptions for their phones, the company BlackBerry Limited launched phones with exclusive BlackBerry Messenger that couldn't be used by other phones. They introduced phone users to the luxury of not having to pay for every single message sent.

Unfortunately for them, phones get smarter and users get to download and use other softwares similar to BlackBerry Messenger using any smartphone. BlackBerry phones were no longer game-breaking.

BlackBerry was losing the market and eventually compromised. They prioritized rescuing BlackBerry Messenger and let people download it from Android and iOS since 2013. In 2016, BlackBerry finally decided they would be better off not manufacturing their own phones.

Now back to Dota 2, why do you think Valve is making Artifact? Instead of doing more things to improve Dota 2, Valve is making a collectible card game using Dota 2's lore.

There can be multiple reasons for it. One of them might be to help people be able to enjoy and understand watching Dota 2 without playing the game, which is great. Another reason can be to prevent losing everything in the great Dota 2 and try to use whatever that can still be used to build something new.

It's not over yet

What we know for sure is that Artifact and OpenAI are two aces that might just bring Dota 2 back to the top. I have no idea how big of an investment it is to develop Artifact, nor do I have any idea how hard it is for Valve to have OpenAI work with Dota 2. I only hope either or both of them will generate a lot of interest towards Dota 2.

While I am losing faith towards Dota 2, it's not over yet.

We as a community are as needed as ever to help sustain the game we all at least once cared so much for. It's a downturn, but it doesn't have to be the end of the story. 

How committed do you think Valve is towards Dota 2? Let us know in the comments below!