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Disnewell Land: Valve Re-Envisions F2P For DOTA 2

How weird. That is *exactly* what I wear to parties. And funerals.

Back when DOTA was nothing more than an elaborate WarCraft III map, it used to be my way of relaxing. Sure, I wasn’t some unholy whirlwind of might and magic, but it was an experience that fell somewhere on the spectrum between “pleasant” and “killing a million things.” Flash forward to today: I don’t really play LoL very often. It’s stressful! If I can get a couple friends together, sure, but the community’s a grab-bag of mean people who use curse words. So, how does Valve plan to avoid walking down a similarly suicidal lane with DOTA 2? How does an oddly utopian-sounding player-driven wonderland strike you?

During an interview with Seven Day Cooldown (via Polygon), Gabe Newell described DOTA 2’s business model as “free-to-play,” but with “some twists.” Here, however, is the interesting part:

“The issue that we’re struggling with quite a bit is something I’ve kind of talked about before, which is how do you properly value people’s contributions to a community? We’re trying to figure out ways so that people who are more valuable to everybody else [are] recognized and accommodated. We all know people where if they’re playing we want to play, and there are other people where if they’re playing we would [rather] be on the other side of the planet.”

“When you start thinking about the different games that people play and you try to think about how people can create value or a service in one game and benefit somebody in a different game, you can start to see how the different games sort knit together. [You can see] how somebody who really likes TF2 can still be creating value for somebody who is playing DOTA 2 or Skyrim, or if somebody is a creator in one space how it can translate into another. In a sense, think of individual games as instance dungeons of a larger experience, if that makes sense as a concept.”

Specifically in the realm of DOTA 2, however, Newell pointed to an experienced player helping new arrivals learn the ropes as an example of a valuable community member. So basically, he hopes to encourage small acts of kindness and ultimately snowball them into some kind of giant, city-leveling friendship avalanche.

That said, he made sure to note that this isn’t a diabolical front for the next great existent social network. Rather, Valve’s grizzled captain is aiming for something “more about how gamers can benefit from a collective action of all the other gamers, and there are a bunch of different ways that can occur, whether from things that look like traditional social networking notifications to higher-value activities. As far as I know, Facebook doesn’t have the ability for people to fundamentally modify or edit the underlying Facebook experience.”

So, in essence, the aim is to create social gaming that’s actually, you know, social. People would, shockingly enough, interact or experience each others’ content in a mutually beneficial, hopefully non-spammy way. But of course, it’s all conceptual at this point. Still though, whether you think it’s a stroke of genius or the possible result of a minor stroke, at least Newell and co are taking an outside-the-box approach to community management. Gaming groups are often insular at best and downright racial-epithet-spitting hostile at worst, so either something needs to be done, or it’s high-time we all grow up already. Maybe the answer’s a little bit (or perhaps a whole heaping lot) of both.

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Nathan Grayson

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