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Dota 2 pulls back on battle pass model to free up dev resources

Not all battle passes are bought equally.

Justin Carter, Contributing Editor

June 20, 2023

2 Min Read
Key art of Tinker from Valve's DOTA 2.

Dota 2 is leaving its battle pass behind. As part of a 10-year look back on the MOBA game, Valve said it would shift focus from the monetization mechanic to instead have more regular updates for its players. 

Battle passes have become a part of live service games for nearly a decade now, having been born from the season pass model of the early-mid 2010s. Because they provide extra income for developers, it's rare for a game that already has a battle pass to suddenly scale back on it. 

Dota 2 Battle Pass

Part of the reason for the transition is that most Dota 2 players "never buy a Battle Pass and never get any rewards from it." It's a surprisingly candid statement that highlights how the model isn't always the best fit for every game out there. 

And it didn't help that the Pass basically consumed other features—like voice lines, new games modes, and so on—that would've otherwise been regular updates.

By Valve's own admission, the Battle Pass "has grown to be a tremendously exciting time in Dota 2, but it leaves the rest of the year feeling barren by comparison. [...] Any single piece of content would be more valuable when bundled as part of the Battle Pass, so we bundled more and more."

Ahead of this year's The International tournament, the studio chose to shift resources from the Battle Pass to go towards "speculative updates." These updates include features and content that wouldn't normally fit in the Pass, and Valve said it's intentionally going out of its way to not call this another Battle Pass. 

"By freeing Dota's update and content cycle from the timing and structural constraints of the Battle Pass," concluded Valve, "we can go back to making content in the way we know best: by coming up with fun ideas of all scales and shapes, and exploring them with you."

Update: This post has been changed to correct that Dota 2 is a MOBA, not an RTS. 

About the Author(s)

Justin Carter

Contributing Editor, GameDeveloper.com

A Kansas City, MO native, Justin Carter has written for numerous sites including IGN, Polygon, and SyFy Wire. In addition to Game Developer, his writing can be found at io9 over on Gizmodo. Don't ask him about how much gum he's had, because the answer will be more than he's willing to admit.

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