Valve's 'Dota 2' free-to-play plan explained, online store launched

Valve makes Dota 2 free-to-play and announces Steam Workshop support.

Dota 2 will be free-to-play, Valve announced via its official blog today, which in the developer's own words "won't come as much of a surprise to anyone." Valve also made it official that unlike other games of its type, it won't be selling Dota 2's playable heroes, instead relying on sales of cosmetic items to monetize the online multiplayer game.

To that end, Valve opened up Dota 2's online store today. It's already populated with more than 200 items with which players can customize their characters. Dota 2 players can spend as much as $9.99 on the Blood Chaser axe or as little as 75 cents on a Staff of the Tusk-Bereft.

Of course, a wide variety of hats, masks, and decorative accessories are also available for purchase.

On its Dota 2 "Spoils of War" FAQ, Valve notes that frugal players can earn those items without paying money "by simply playing the game, increasing their Battle Level, or by trading with other players."

"Dota 2 will not be a pay-to-win game," Valve says on its blog. "We think Dota's competitive metagame is crucial, and something we won't damage with economy items. We think cosmetic character customization is a great angle, and one we'll be focusing on."

Interestingly, Valve says of character customization that "we've been finding that we can use it to broaden our lore, and expand on the characters" saying that unique hero voices offer a window "into each hero's personality."

As with Team Fortress 2, Dota 2 supports Valve's Steam Workshop. That's where enterprising artists can create their own customization items, upload them to the Steam Workshop and (hopefully) see them added to the online store, where they can share in the profits of in-game item sales.

Valve boasts that over 3.5 million dollars was paid out to Team Fortress 2 fans who created in-game items in the first year alone.

In April, Valve boss Gabe Newell said that Dota 2 would be free-to-play "with a twist," saying that the company is looking at new ways to reward players who contribute to the larger community.

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