Dota 2 is a free-to-play multiplayer online battle arena (MOBA) video game developed and published by Valve Corporation. The game is the stand-alone sequel to Defense of the Ancients (DotA), which was a community-created mod for Blizzard Entertainment’s Warcraft III: Reign of Chaos and its expansion pack, The Frozen Throne. Dota 2 is played in matches between two teams that consist of five players, with both teams occupying their own separate base on the map. Each of the ten players independently control a powerful character, known as a “hero”, that each feature unique abilities and different styles of play. During a match, a player and their team collects experience points and items for their heroes in order to fight through the opposing team’s defenses. A team wins by being the first to destroy a large structure located in the opposing team’s base, called the “Ancient”.
Dota 2 is a multiplayer online battle arena (MOBA) video game in which two teams of five players compete to collectively destroy a large structure defended by the opposing team known as the “Ancient”, whilst defending their own. As in Defense of the Ancients, the game is controlled using standard real-time strategy controls, and is presented on a single map in a three-dimensional isometric perspective. Ten players each control one of the game’s 113 playable characters, known as “heroes”, with each having their own design, benefits, and weaknesses. Heroes are divided into two primary roles, known as the “carry” and “support”. Carries, which are also called “cores”, begin each match as weak and vulnerable, but are able to become more powerful later in the game, thus becoming able to “carry” their team to victory. Supports generally lack abilities that deal heavy damage, instead having ones with more functionality and utility that provide assistance for their carries.
The Dota series began in 2003 with Defense of the Ancients (DotA)—a mod for Blizzard Entertainment’s Warcraft III: Reign of Chaos—created by the pseudonymous designer “Eul”. An expansion pack for Warcraft III, entitled The Frozen Throne, was released later that year; a series of Defense of the Ancients clone mods for the new game competed for popularity. DotA: Allstars by Steve Feak was the most successful, and Feak, with his friend Steve Mescon, created the official Defense of the Ancients community website and the holding company DotA-Allstars, LLC. When Feak retired from DotA: Allstars in 2005, a friend, under the pseudonym “IceFrog”, became its lead designer. The popularity of Defense of the Ancients increased significantly: it became one of the most popular mods in the world, and, by 2008, a prominent eSports title. IceFrog and Mescon later had a falling out in May 2009, which prompted the former to establish a new community website at playdota.com.
Valve’s interest in the Defense of the Ancients property began when several veteran employees, including Team Fortress 2 designer Robin Walker and producer Erik Johnson, became fans of the mod and wanted to build a modern sequel. The company corresponded with IceFrog by email about his long-term plans for the project, and he was subsequently hired to direct a sequel. IceFrog first announced his new position through his blog in October 2009, and Dota 2 was publicly announced by Game Informer in October 2010.
Dota 2 was first made available to the public at Gamescom in 2011, coincidence with the inaugural International championship, the game’s premier eSport tournament event. At the event, Valve began sending out closed beta invitations, with the first few being sent out shortly after Gamescom. During the event, Newell speculated that Dota 2 would likely ship in 2012, despite original plans for a full release in late 2011. In September 2011, Valve scrapped its previous development and release plans, which would have kept the game in its closed beta phase for over a year. The new plans, which IceFrog revealed via an online announcement, were to begin beta testing as soon as possible and to implement the remaining heroes afterward. Simultaneously, Valve announced that the non-disclosure agreement for the beta was being lifted, allowing testers to discuss the game and their experiences publicly. After nearly two years of beta testing, Dota 2 was officially released on Steam for Microsoft Windows on July 9, 2013, and later for OS X and Linux on July 18, 2013. The game did not launch with every hero from Defense of the Ancients. Instead, the missing ones were added in various post-release updates, with the final one from the mod, as well as the first original hero, being added in 2016. Two months following the game’s release, Newell claimed that updates to Dota 2 generated up to three percent of global internet traffic. In December 2013, the final restrictions against unlimited global access to Dota 2 were lifted after the game’s infrastructure and servers were substantially bolstered.
TRANSITION TO THE SOURCE 2 ENGINE
In June 2015, Valve announced that the entirety of Dota 2 would be ported over to their Source 2 game engine in an update called Dota 2 Reborn, making Dota 2 the first game to use the engine. Reborn was first released to the public as a beta update that same month, and officially replaced the original client in September 2015. Reborn included a new user interface framework design, ability for custom game modes created by the community, and the full replacement of the original Source engine with Source 2. Largely attributed to technical difficulties players experienced with the update, the global player base experienced a sharp drop of approximately sixteen percent the month following the release of Reborn. However, after various updates and patches, over a million concurrent players were playing again by the beginning of 2016, with that being the largest amount of users in nearly a year. The move to Source 2 also allowed the use of the Vulkan graphics API, which was released as an optional feature in May 2016, making Dota 2 one of the first games to offer it.
To ensure that enough Defense of the Ancients players would take up Dota 2 and to showcase the game’s capabilities, Valve sponsored sixteen accomplished Defense of the Ancients teams to compete at The International, a Dota 2 specific eSports tournament, for a $1 million prize in 2011. The International became an annual championship tournament in 2012, with the venue changing to Seattle. In its third year, The International allowed crowdfunding to add to its prize pool through an interactive, in-game item called a “compendium”. Compendiums, which are optional and must be purchased separately, allow players who buy them to directly raise prize money for The International by spending money on unique compendium cosmetics and other in-game items, with 25% of all the revenue made going directly to the prize pool. Sales from the 2013 compendium helped raise over $2.8 million, making The International 2013 reclaim its previous title as having the largest prize pool in eSports history from the League of Legends Season 2 World Championship. Since then, each annual tournament of The International has broken the previous one’s prize pool record, with the fourth iteration of the tournament raising over $10.9 million, exceeding the prizes pools of the Super Bowl, Masters Tournament, and Tour de France. At The International 2015, the prize pool exceeded $18.4 million, earning the champion team, Evil Geniuses, over $6 million.
DOTA 2 KEY FEATURES:
- All At Your Fingertips – players have access to ALL of the game’s heroes from the start. No need to unlock or purchase heroes.
- Snowball Easily – dying results in a loss of gold, can magnify the effects of snowballing.
- Huge Variety of Cosmetics and Skins – players can customize individual parts of their heroes (weapons, armor, helmets, etc.).
- Custom Game Support – players can build their own custom games within Dota 2 (Pudge Wars, Tower defenses, Racing, Battleships, and more)
- Skill-Based and Competitive – similar to LoL, Dota 2 is heavily reliant on a player’s skill, is very competitive, and has a large e-Sports scene.