Dota Plus is a paid feature for Dota 2 that provides various features, from cosmetics to competitive advantages. For about $4 (or PHP 200.00) it gives a huge variety of benefits that can stack with the current Battle Pass and events, like shards, Battle Pass points, hero progression, and competitive edges like selective matchmaking, a live assistant, and access to statistics.
Some benefits of Dota Plus, however, could be subject to scrutiny in today’s era where video games have so many quality of life changes that are missing in older games. Internal game statistics, for instance, is given by some developers as an API (application programming interface) that outside developers can turn into something that benefits the community.
When other games have similar features given completely for free, is there a way to justify having players pay for the same features in a different game? This raises the question: should Dota Plus become a free feature?
As mentioned, there are some features that are paid in the Dota Plus service, but are free in other games. The most prominent example of this is statistics, which show comparisons between players, the best or most popular heroes to pick in the current patch, and more. Spectating a friend’s match is also given to players in other games for free.
By making a service like Dota Plus free, it provides a huge amount of content that is accessible for pure free-to-play players. While it may sound like a rare group of players given that we are talking about Dota 2, this could extend to the new players that are trying to grasp the complex MOBA game. With the prospect of a brand new player experience in Dota 2 being leaked earlier this year, this could slowly attract players and bring up the amount of monthly active users.
In a sense, Dota Plus is a quality-of-life subscription service that massively improves the base experience of Dota 2. By making the system a free and integrated service as part of the game, it helps a community that has been asking for quality of life changes to be done to the game for months and months. It may not hit the mark for some, but it’s a start to making Dota 2 feel like a modern game.
Lastly, the Dota Plus system has been barely changed since its conception in the early years of Dota 2. In a timeline where the system is considered to be due for changes in its payment scheme from $4 to $0, Valve can also take the opportunity to refine everything to make it into a service that serves a better purpose in the current year.
Of course, there are cons to remodeling the entire Dota Plus service into a free service that is available to all. Firstly, Valve (and Dota 2 to an extent) will lose one part of its income. While it’s not particularly an issue given that Valve is a big company, the money spent by the players for this feature go to the developers that help maintain the game that they love. However, Battle Passes may be doing more of a stellar job than Dota Plus does in that regard.
In a scenario that Dota Plus gets updated in the near future with unique features that could justify paying $4 for such a service, there may be a good reason to not remodel into a free service. What those features could possibly be is in the air, but with the creativeness of Dota 2’s custom features like Aghanim’s Labyrinth, there is a good chance that the developers will have something for the players who pay for the service.
What Should Stay Paid, and What Should Not
There are some parts of the Dota Plus service that could stay as a paid feature, while others move to a free option.
The features that should become free for all players are things that provide a competitive edge to Dota 2. Statistics, better matchmaking, and the Weekend Battle Cup are the likely best features that can help a free-to-play player and even the odds among the players. Statistics and better matchmaking are definite quality of life updates for any player, and the prospect of a weekly online amateur tournament that can give a taste of the competitive experience for new players is a great way to see how better or worse they are at a given point in time.
Cosmetic items like the custom terrains, shard-based exclusives, and miscellaneous features like a prediction system and Relics could stay as a paid feature. Most multiplayer games monetize cosmetics when their game is primarily a free-to-play model, because somehow the company has to pay their developers without going negative on revenue. Cosmetics make the game pretty, keeps developers paid to work on the game, and do not necessarily give a competitive edge against an opponent that doesn’t pay for Dota Plus.
The Plus Assistant, if it could be refined to modern quality standards, could stay as a paid service. An artificial intelligence coach that can analyze the optimal ability sequence, lane strategies, and item builds depending on the current game you’re playing is definitely worth the bang for your buck. If there’s something in the Dota Plus service worth paying for, it has to be a live assistant.
What about you? Do you think Dota Plus should be a free feature?