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.

Article by Matt Kim, .

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.

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Comments 1

  • Avatar for docexe #1 docexe 7 months ago
    Mmmm… I’m not sure I would classify those tools necessarily as pay-2-win per se as they don’t seem to provide direct advantage. I do think it’s pretty tacky on their part to charge for them, especially if the intention is to teach players how to be better at the game.
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