The release of League of Legends: Dominion made me wonder what the other big players in the MOBA world have been up to, particularly the good people at Valve. Valve has always been known for the glacial pace of its development, but the word on the street was that DotA 2 would be out this year. Apparently that was never Valve’s plan.
According to an official blog post made late last week, DotA 2 was originally slated for a year-long beta, beginning this fall. During that time, Valve was planning to slowly increase the number of available heroes until it matched the original title and only then would the game be released.
It’s hard to imagine a scenario in which releasing DotA 2 a year from now would make any kind of sense. Granted, DotA players are a loyal breed, but the options for filling the MOBA need are ever-increasing. As Dominion has shown us, there are also emerging models for arena-style gameplay that stray from conventional base-killing. Also, why hold a high profile tournament for a game that won’t release for a full year? In short, DotA can’t keep MOBA players interested forever. Pushing that interest for another 12 months seems like a surefire way to kill the game.
Luckily, Valve has changed its plans. The new schedule has DotA 2 coming out as soon as possible with the set of heroes that were playable in the International tourney. From there, Valve will be rolling out updates with more heroes along the way.
Weirdly enough, I think their terrible initial plan will turn into a really smart release cycle. DotA 2 will be a tough change of pace for players who never played the original. Even veteran DotA players, like myself, might have trouble adjusting after being away from the game so long. That adjustment period is only compounded by the number of new champions and mechanics a player has to learn. By launching with a limited set of champions, DotA 2 will probably be much more approachable than the version we would otherwise see a year from now.