While it seems silly to think that they wouldn’t, Valve still hasn’t officially announced that Dota 2 will be free to play, but it is looking more and more likely as information regarding its development is announced. So while Dota 2’s main competitors Dota, League of Legends, and Heroes of Newerth are all now, or always have been, free-to-play, Dota 2’s seems to also be heading in that direction, at least if Dr. Kleiner has anything to say about it. According to PC Gamer, some rather astute fans have uncovered what appear to be plans for future micro-transactions within Dota 2.
Yes, hidden inside of Dota 2’s patch files are hints at some of the upcoming micro-transactions for what can only be an in-game store. It looks as if some of Valve’s more popular characters will be making an appearance in Dota 2, including Half Life’s Dr. Keiener who will be an alternate announcer for the game. There also appear to be plans for some sort of customizable options for the game’s heroes, not just skins mind you, although they have those as well, but masks, beards, horns, and armor as well. They are even allowing players to customize the game’s courier in a manner similar to HoN.
It appears as if Valve is not only learning from their experiences with making Team Fortress 2 free-to-play, but are also identifying what has been successful for their competition, LoL and HoN. Most of LoL’s financial success has come from offering different type of skins for the game’s champions, and Dota 2 seems it will offer similar types of options as well. Also the idea of charging for different announcers and couriers comes from HoN, which Dota 2 as also adopted. With hindsight in hand, it looks as if Dota 2 is going to attempt to push the envelope in this new genre, offering more customization for players, and more ways to show off their success.
At GDC this year Valve talked about how TF2 became vastly more profitable once it went free to play. So they have experience and success in this field. By correctly identifying where other companies have monetized, Valve is hoping to capitalize on Dota 2 by giving it all the next-gen bells and whistles it can think of. If they are successful, Dota 2 will most likely become a true competitor for Riot Games’ vastly popular League of legends.