Cosmetics are an essential feature in modern-day online games for both players and developers. Players get to customize their character, weapon, and other assets to their liking, and it is the developers’ primary monetization when they build a free-to-play game. This system has been a widespread feature that achieves a win-win balance for both parties without becoming particularly game-breaking.
In a game where you pick a hero to represent yourself and your allies in a battle for victory, looking the part makes the hero feel personalized and catered to the player. Whether you’re a player who wants to strike quick from the shadows like the Phantom Assassin, or one who rules the undead with raw strength like the Wraith King, Dota 2’s Arcanas have made that sensation feel way more than what the game already provides.
What exactly makes these Arcanas so special for the players, aside from their heavy requirements and novelty?
Dota 2’s cosmetics have been documented as some of, if not the most expensive cosmetics in any video game there is. Some rare and highly-sought items sold in the Steam market could reach even about $1,700 or about PHP 84,000—all for a single cosmetic item.
While that may sound outrageous for outsiders, in Dota 2 it has become the norm for those who are willing to pay the price for such novel items. Because of the sheer effort Valve manifests in the individual pieces of an entire set, even the prices for a courier reskin is off the charts when first thought of. The same effort also shows in the annual Arcanas released by the developers.
Essentially, Arcanas are a reimagination of the hero’s lore and other assets. They gain a complete overhaul of their traditional effects, particles, and animations, in exchange for new and sparkly ones that match the theme and lore of the new Arcana. As such, the skins are definitely a huge upgrade compared to other rarities.
Because of the demographic of Dota 2, it sort of makes sense for prices to reach this high. Valve’s targets for marketing, combined with their Battle Passes, make perfect sense for the truly dedicated fans of the game.
Arcanas, based on the rarity system, are essentially a prestige item/set due to the hefty requirements that are asked of the players who have the Battle Pass. Like real life, prestige does not come easy, and if you want that Queen of Pain arcane, you must be ready to pay the price—whether it’s time or money.
This year, The International 10 Battle Pass hosts three new arcanas: The One True King Bundle for Wraith King at Level 375, Eminence of Ristul for Queen of Pain at Level 445, and Compass of the Rising Gale for Windranger at Level 575 that will be released soon.
For the truly dedicated, the prestige of wielding all three Arcanas await them for this year’s Battle Pass, especially since this is the first year that players can obtain three Arcanas in a single Battle Pass. Compared to the past years, only the runner-up in the Arcana Vote gets added to the Battle Pass as a reward, and the winner of the Arcana Vote becomes available for purchase or drop.
The People’s Choice
What makes Arcanas truly one of the most attractive cosmetics of the game is the fact that Arcanas are decided by the players via popular vote. By allowing the people to call out which hero they desire an Arcana for, Valve satisfies the wishes of the players while reaping the monetary rewards.
Arcana Voting started around 2014 with Phantom Assassin’s Manifold Paradox set, but Valve still released Arcanas of their own choice every other time up until Monkey King’s Arcana in 2016. In the past three years, the playerbase has mostly dictated who receives an Arcana through popular vote, to which Valve answered back properly.
In 2017, the Arcana Vote winner and runner-up, Juggernaut and Io, got their own arcanas for purchase/drop and through Battle Pass respectively. The same thing happened with 2018, where Rubick and Pudge won two different Arcana Votes and got their respective Arcanas in the same year.
By making the Arcanas be selected via popular vote, it adds a special touch to the players’ hearts that Valve listened to what they want. Maybe they could listen to the players’ opinions regarding game balance as well, but that’s for another day.
Truly, Arcanas are placed in the rarest sections of the Rarity system for a good reason: the items released provide the most bang for your buck. For Valve to go so far as to basically redesign the assets of a hero from the ground up and introduce new icons, portraits, and voice lines, it shows how much personalization Dota 2 can achieve if you are willing to put down the time and money.
Which hero do you think deserves an Arcana? Tell us in the comments below!