Valve, the company behind popular games like Half-Life, Counter-Strike, and digital game store Juggernaut Steam, has announced its future plans for the popular free MOBA game, Dota 2. Surprisingly, these plans do not include players who purchase annual paid battle passes, which require grinding to unlock cosmetics and other new content. Valve says that most players have never even bought a battle pass.
Dota 2, a continuation of the popular game Warcraft III mod Defense of the Ancients, will turn 10 years old this year. Since its release in 2013, this PC game is still one of the most popular games on the Steam platform and attracts millions of viewers through large-scale online tournaments. Dota 2 was also one of the first video games to launch a battle pass system, allowing players to level up and complete challenges to unlock time-limited content such as skins after purchasing access. This type of reward system has become widely used in most free online video games, such as Fortnite and Rocket League.
Now, after pioneering with battle passes, Valve is abandoning them because the company says they have sucked up too many resources without being what most Dota 2 players are actually engaged in. In a recent blog post, Valve said that the battle pass, which is connected to the annual Dota tournament known as The International, has become too large and has caused problems. According to Valve, over time the battle pass has turned into a huge operation that almost constantly consumes time, ideas, and resources of staff working on the game. Early on in Dota 2, content updates were more varied and frequent. However, over time, the battle pass began to consume every idea or feature, leading to a situation where Dota 2 had little new content or none at all for most of the year until the next major battle pass update.
Valve recently realized this and decided to change it. „Some of the resources that would normally produce battle pass content are instead being directed toward more speculative updates, including features and content that wouldn’t have fit into the battle pass,” Valve wrote in the blog. „Although work on future updates continues, the first of these has been shipped: 'New Frontiers’ and Patch 7.33 couldn’t have been released as they were if we had focused all of our efforts on creating Battle Pass content.”
Perhaps the most interesting part of the entire blog post is that Valve admits that according to its data, most players have never bought a battle pass or received any rewards from those annual updates. On the other hand, Valve says that „every Dota player” was able to discover the latest map of the game, play with all the new added items, and enjoy all the new UI and client improvements that were part of Patch 7.33.
Valve explained that it will still include content directly related to The International and its prize pool, as with the battle pass, but this update will not be filled with new, fancy cosmetics that players can follow. And because it’s such a big change that has happened after almost a decade, Valve „intentionally” does not name the next International battle pass-oriented update.
This is a big change for one of the biggest free games in the world. And if one of the biggest of the biggest did not sell many battle passes, you wonder how few battle passes are sold in other less popular F2P games. I also wonder why it took Valve a decade to realize that most players prefer frequent updates over single, annual updates behind a paywall.
„By freeing Dota updates and content cycles from the time and structural constraints of the battle pass,” Valve wrote, „we can get back to creating content in the way we know best: brainstorming fun ideas at all scales and shapes and exploring them with you.”