For those who are new to the blog, or do not otherwise know, Kris and I are pretty much nuts for the computer game that is Dota 2. Whilst some of our colleagues and Ultimate friends have been doing things as extravagant as going skiing and visiting other countries, we have spent the majority of our holiday in our apartment fervently playing as many games of Dota 2 as possible. A large reason for this is a recent piece of content that was released for the game: the Winter Battle Pass.
As is evident from the name, the Winter Battle Pass is a temporary addition to the game, lasting only for the season of winter. There have been similar content to the Battle Pass that have been released for the past few seasons, but none have been as well-received by the community.
Essentially, the Winter Battle Pass costs $8, and gives the player access to content that is unique to holders of the pass. Unlike other games that hold significant content behind a paywall, the Winter Battle Pass does not in any way affect a player’s chances to win the game by altering stats or adding new playable characters or the like. All of the heroes in Dota are available to every player, and the only thing differentiating a person who is just learning the game and someone who has played for years is the knowledge and skills that the player picks up by playing. So, what does the Winter Battle Pass offer to the players of the otherwise free-to-play game in return for their money? Hats. Sweet, sweet hats.
Sometimes bears just want to be cowboys (this set was eventually removed from the store for violating the core aesthetic of the hero)
Whilst no amount of money can give you an in-game advantage, it can buy you cosmetic items to make your hero look cooler, prettier, or of a different style. The Winter Battle Pass allows players to complete in-game quests in the attempt to gain levels and, thereby, hats. Previous incarnations of the Battle Pass idea have been far less well-received, as they were a little more money-grabby and a little less sensitive to what the community wanted. The hats-to-money ratio was out of whack. But the current Battle Pass has struck the right balance between keeping Valve’s investors happy and the community playing as many games as possible in order to complete their challenges.
The pass has been so successful that the average number of players at any one time has risen over 2.5% since the Pass came out. At the peak time in the last month, there have been more than 1.1 million people playing Dota at one time, almost equalling the record numbers for the game from last year in March. Whilst this may not be anywhere near the numbers flaunted by Dota’s main competitor, League of Legends, the growth is encouraging.
So, Kris and I have been holed up in our little apartment, playing game after game in our hunt for pretty hats. I have raged a little, leading to a small domestic dispute, but I have promised to be better. We stopped. Then we started again. Because hats.