The auto chess wars rage on, and Valve is already looking towards its past business models for inspiration. Dota Underlords will receive its own battle pass, much like Dota 2 before it, according to one developer.
Bruno Carlucci, a former stats man in the competitive Dota 2 scene and current developer on Valve's Dota Underlords, replied to a tweet asking about planned microtransactions for Underlords. "A battle pass is in the works," he replied.
It makes sense, considering Dota 2 popularized the battle pass concept with its earliest iteration, the Compendium. These packages, timed around the annual championship for supremacy in Dota 2 called The International—TI9 is just around the corner and I'm very excited—allowed players to buy in and contribute to the tournament's prize pool in exchange for cosmetics and additional features, like pick 'em brackets and fantasy player cards.
Whether this means Valve could be considering a tournament for Dota Underlords or not, the battle pass model has moved beyond just its earliest tournament ties. Other ongoing games, especially in the battle royale genre, latched onto battle passes as a way to organize their update rollout into "seasons" of play. A seasonal approach for Underlords could work, though the game is already receiving fresh updates on a regular basis.
My initial impression of Underlords was that it was solid but safe, though recent changes (especially the revised Dragon synergy) are allowing Underlords to forge an identity of its own. On the other side of the table, Riot Games has launched Teamfight Tactics, its answer to the auto chess phenomenon. It's an inventive, more social and playful take on the genre. Doubtless, we'll see both companies look to capitalize on the overnight success of autobattlers, especially while the original Auto Chess creators have yet to launch their Epic-exclusive version.