DOTA 2 – Free to Play? Pay to Win? Grind to compete?

Interesting news tidbit today about DOTA 2.. DOTA2 Logo

  • Dota 2 will not be a pay-to-win game. All the items in the store are cosmetic, and don’t affect gameplay.
  • 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.

(read more detail on their FAQ too here)

Now I personally have quite a few issues of competitive gaming taste with the whole ‘MOBA’ (Multiplayer Online Battle Arena) genre above and beyond all of this kind of thing. The fact they have massive slippery slope design combined with long game lengths being a key one, as well as all the usual common competitive videogame issues around tutorials & teaching, matchmaking and ranking systems which are even more pronounced for games of this nature. However, the issue of grind-to-compete (much like COD!) has also been a major point against most MOBA style games for agoners too.

Agoners were really hoping DOTA 2 wouldn’t go that route, but I must admit this announcement increases rather than assuages my concerns. I can’t fathom how their business model is going to work if they only money they make at all is through purchases of entirely cosmetic items. Perhaps there are plans to garner finance through the spectating / e-sports avenue (advertising &/or sponsorship perhaps?), or it’s all considered a loss-leader for Steam. But even so…

Anyway, here’s hoping for agoners everywhere that something will come along in the MOBA genre that avoids the pitfalls of pay-to-win AND grind-to-compete!



2 thoughts on “DOTA 2 – Free to Play? Pay to Win? Grind to compete?

  1. I must admit that I like that it’s not pay-to-win. That’s a huge relief for me. However I do have the same fear about what other bullshittery might appear to give them the cash flow they’ll be expecting.

    If it’s a choice between some sort of payment structure that ruins the experience of the gamer, or paying for basic content, then I’d much rather pay for the basic content. I love the finance structure of Yomi wherein each week they offer a couple of characters that you can play for free and have full access. And then rotate those characters week-on-week. Then once you’ve played a few characters, you can then purchase the ones that you’ll enjoy playing as. As a micro-transaction, that works very well.


    1. Yup. Games such as Yomi show that a ‘freemium’ model can work alongside proper competitive gaming or even challenge gaming ideals. It’s just that, sadly, 99% of the time it damages it or ruins it, especially with the bigger more commercial titles. Let’s hope DOTA 2 can somehow get in that 1% though.


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