DEC. 18, 2013 • Access to Dota 2 is now open to all players. Last July Valve ended the Dota 2 beta and officially launched the game – sort of. The virtual gates to the game servers were not thrown wide open. Instead, Valve launched with a gatekeeping system. Players had to register on a Launch Queue from which Valve would approve batches of registrants to access Dota 2. The reasons given were to better evaluate server capacity, add players into the game in a measured fashion to see how the system reacted, and protect the competitive environment from radical disruption. Five months and 6.5 million monthly active users later, Valve is satisfied that it can handle all comers. Moving forward anyone can download the game client and access Dota 2 immediately.
Impact: Dota 2 has been a huge success – one of the two leading MOBA arena games alongside League of Legends. LoL and Dota 2 combined have more than 95% of the usage share in the MOBA category. Outside Asia where LoL dominates, Dota 2 and LoL are fairly close in size with all other MOBA games not even close. Arena games are now a huge driver of global PC game penetration and revenue, and Dota 2 was one of the most anticipated projects in the genre. Although the Launch Queue system was met with significant grumbling, at the time we saw this as a wise move. One of the most difficult aspects of managing games as a service is estimating demand and being ready to handle that demand. Neither is this just a measure of capacity alone. As Valve pointed out, they were deeply concerned with assuring that the in-game environment was rewarding. Some have said that what Valve instituted was an extended beta rather than a full launch, and that might be so, yet we believe this was an admirable example of deftly managing a digital entertainment service for the benefit of consumers. Another positive is that such management has resulted in a stable, growing player base. Much better an outcome than facilitating a mad rush of players who overload the game, become dissatisfied, and generate negative word of mouth. With such a strong foundation, Dota 2 is poised for a great run.