‘DOTA 2’ will be free-to-play ‘with a twist,’ says Gabe Newell

The sequel to Defense of the Ancients (DOTA) will be free-to-play “with a twist”, according to the co-founder of Valve, Gabe Newell.

Speaking on a yet to be released podcast shared by the producers early with Polygon, Newell told Seven Day Cooldown that the PC and Mac-compatible real-time strategy game will use a free-to-play funding model, but one that hasn’t been used in any other game before.

“It’s going to be free-to-play — it’ll have some twists, but that’s the easiest way for people to think about it,” Newell said.

When prodded over what kind of twists players can expect, Newell said:

“The issue that we’re struggling with quite a bit is something I’ve kind of talked about before, which is how do you properly value people’s contributions to a community?

“We’re trying to figure out ways so that people who are more valuable to everybody else [are] recognized and accommodated. We all know people where if they’re playing we want to play, and there are other people where if they’re playing we would [rather] be on the other side of the planet.

“It’s just a question of coming up with mechanisms that recognize and reward people who are doing things that are valuable to other groups of people.”

Newell provided examples of behavior that would be rewarded, such as players who are useful guides or those who volunteer their time to train others. He said he could not point to an existing free-to-play model that works like the model that Valve has in mind forDOTA 2. He did not specify how valued players would be identified or rewarded.

Newell added that he wants to see this kind of reward system expand into other games.

“IN A SENSE, THINK OF INDIVIDUAL GAMES AS INSTANCE DUNGEONS OF A LARGER EXPERIENCE, IF THAT MAKES SENSE AS A CONCEPT.”

“When you start thinking about the different games that people play and you try to think about how people can create value or a service in one game and benefit somebody in a different game, you can start to see how the different games sort knit together,” Newell said.

“[You can see] how somebody who really likes Team Fortress 2 (TF2) can still be creating value for somebody who is playing DOTA 2 or Skyrim, or if somebody is a creator in one space how it can translate into another.

“In a sense, think of individual games as instance dungeons of a larger experience, if that makes sense as a concept.”

When asked if this move towards connecting people in games means that Steam is in the process of morphing into a kind of social network, Newell said that Valve is not looking to turn Steam into a social network, at least not in the traditional sense of the word.

“Most of the time when people try to ask us questions like that, they usually have really specific things in mind that don’t map exactly to what we have in mind,” he said.

“IT REALLY IS MORE A LEGACY OF JOHN CARMACK’S WAY OF THINKING ABOUT THINGS THAN IT IS SOCIAL NETWORKING.”

“So when somebody from the general business press says a social network, they generally mean are you going to have a website that looks like Facebook.

“If I had to talk about a model, it would be more about how gamers can benefit from a collective action of all the other gamers and there are a bunch of different ways that can occur, whether from things that look like traditional social networking notifications to higher-value activities. As far as I know, Facebook doesn’t have the ability for people to fundamentally modify or edit the underlying Facebook experience.”

Newell described his vision of a gaming social network as allowing Valve to make people as valuable as possible.

“It really is more a legacy of John Carmack’s way of thinking about things than it is social networking,” he said.

“It’s just that now we have the horsepower and the experience in the gaming community to try and figure out how all these experiences get knit together in a way that’s valuable.”

The full podcast from Seven Day Cooldown will be released later today. Thank you Jack Inacker.

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