Is Dota 2 Pay to Win Now Thanks to Dota Plus? A Primer on Valve's New Subscription Service

Is Dota 2 Pay to Win Now Thanks to Dota Plus? A Primer on Valve's New Subscription Service

Dota Plus offers some new tools, but they're hardly kingmakers.

Valve announced this week a new subscription service for Dota 2 called Dota Plus. For a recurring, monthly fee, players will have access to a wide variety of exclusive features and content. This marks one of the biggest changes to the game's services but it has some players worried and confused as to what this means for the game. Specifically: Is Dota Plus unfair?

To help, we've broken down some key features in Dota Plus to help you navigate Dota 2's new subscription offerings. While some in the community might be anxious that Dota Plus is a new barrier-of-entry that teeters towards a pay-to-win model, Dota Plus's offerings should be considered more of a suite of learning tools rather than something that will automatically guarantee wins.

What is Dota Plus

Dota Plus is a new subscription service where for $3.99 USD a month, players gain access to a whole set of perks, bonuses, but most importantly, tools that help players track and analyze their game.

Dota Plus does not offer buffs, stat increases, or other game winning bonuses to subscribed members. Instead, the analytics tools offered in the service might probably only really help the most dedicated Dota 2 players who understand how to read their own play data.

What's exclusive to Dota Plus?

  • Hero Leveling: A new level progression system where heroes earn XP for playing games. Each new level unlocks Reward Shards and a new tier of unlocked bonuses.
  • Challenges: Where players can try and complete hero specific challenges for XP towards hero levels.
  • Hero Relics: Which track different battleground achievements and display statistical milestones.
  • Hero Chat Wheel: which lets players choose phrases for their heroes to say in battle.
  • Plus Exclusive Items: Can be purchased using Shards from the in-game store.
  • Free admission to the weekly Battle Cup which rewards winners 20,000 shards. A Battle Cup ticket will be $0.99 for non-Dota Plus members.

Plus Assistant

Plus Assistant is a suite of tools exclusive to Dota Plus members, and also the most controversial component of the service. Plus Assistant is billed as a real-time assistant to teach strategy to players; but it's actually a suite of tools that use real-time data from Dota 2 players to help players better understand the game. These tools include Item Suggestions, Ability Suggestions, and Hero Suggestions which analyze a player's game and guide them towards the best selections for any given scenario.

There are also analytics tools such as Death Summary which breaks down how a hero was killed; Lane Strategy which suggests optimal lane picks; Global Rank Trends to see which heroes are popular; and Post-Game Analytics that each breakdown various data points to help players better understand why they won or lost a particular game.

Pay to win?

The Plus Assistant is at the center of Dota 2 players' concerns. Given the suite of tools and data-driven suggestions on how to play, it's a boost for players who want to better understand and improve their game. But it's hard to say that access to Plus Assistant is pay-to-win. In fact, the general consensus by Dota 2 players is that Plus Assistant might even be a very good tool for newcomers to better learn the game.

On Reddit, there are threads from players who suggest Plus Assistant should be offered for free to new players. While some players bristle at the thought of any advantage in the game being offered to players who pay money for it, there are those who say that flowcharts and analytic tools will not instantly make a player a master of the game.

Essentially the two sides of the debate are those who believe that Plus Assistant is an effective teaching tool, but not one that gives any player a dominance in the game versus those who believe that any advantage in Dota 2, no matter how small, which is also paid for, is unethical.

Is Dota Plus worth it?

That's up to you. If you're a regular Dota 2 player and are interested in the exclusive content, or rare items it might feel like a worthwhile option. If you're hesitant about Dota Plus Assistant it needs to be seen whether or not Plus Assistant will prove to have any drastic effect on how players experience the game.

Sometimes we include links to online retail stores. If you click on one and make a purchase we may receive a small commission. See our terms & conditions.

Matt Kim

News Editor

Matt Kim is a former freelance writer who's covered video games and digital media. He likes video games as spectacle and is easily distracted by bright lights or clever bits of dialogue. He also once wrote about personal finance, but that's neither here nor there.

Related articles

Valve Is Aiming For a New Hero in Dota 2 By End of November

The publisher asserts more heroes are coming, and at a more regular cadence.

AMD's Ryzen 5000 Processors Will Give PC Gamers Another Upgrade to Chase in November

Just ahead of the next-gen console launch, AMD is introducing its new Zen 3 CPUs for PCs.

No Taxation Without Misrepresentation

THIS WEEK IN BUSINESS | Electronic Arts sees a phenomenal surge in sales due to the pandemic, but the impact on the bottom line is minimal compared to a good tax dodge.

New Valve Doc Showcases Long-Lost Projects, Including a Dota 2 RPG

On top of Half-Life 3 and Left 4 Dead 3, the studio abandoned something in a new genre.

You may also like

Press Start to Continue

A look back on what we tried to accomplish at USgamer, and the work still to be done.

Mat's Farewell | The Truth Has Not Vanished Into Darkness

This isn't the real ending, is it? Can't be.

Eric's Farewell | Off to Find a New Challenger

It's time for us to move on, but we'll carry USG with us wherever we go.