Valve has been mostly silent about its larger Dota 2 development cycle over the last several years, but with the final Dota Pro Circuit Major and The International 2023 fast approaching, it was time to give fans some answers.
In an update on June 19, the Dota development team said it’s completely shifting gears from the structure of years past and doing away with the regular battle pass.
For TI11 last year, Valve split the yearly battle pass into two distinct sections for the first time. One was released in the lead-up to the biggest Dota esports event of the year, and the other came right after that event to run through to the new year. This was apparently a sign of things to come, as even more changes are now being implemented this year with Valve deciding to step away from the battle pass entirely.
Valve noted it is preparing to celebrate the 10th anniversary of Dota 2 with players around the world on July 9, and is also hard at work on content for the celebration. That update won’t hit right on the anniversary, however, and the devs decided to take a moment to discuss the past, present, and future of content releases for the game.
From 2013’s introduction of The International Interactive Compendium that would eventually become the TI Battle Pass, Valve used these content drops as a celebration of all things Dota and to get the global player base involved, despite not being able to attend the event. Despite the intent behind the idea, the battle pass eventually began to swallow up content that was previously featured in other updates.
The scaling consumed minigames, item sets, cosmetics, voice lines, game modes, key functionality upgrades, and so much more. This led to “Battle Pass” season being the biggest and most celebrated time of year, drawing hundreds of thousands of Dota players in, both new and old—and leaving other updates “feeling barren by comparison.”
“Last year, we started to ask ourselves whether Dota was well-served by having this single focal point around which all content delivery was designed,” Valve said.
The statement from Valve continued: “Each step we had taken made sense when considered independently: any single piece of content would be more valuable when bundled as part of the Battle Pass, so we bundled more and more. This led to a momentous content drop every year, but it also greatly limited our ability to do things that were exciting and valuable for players but didn’t fit into the Battle Pass reward line.”
In response, Valve has entered 2023 with the goal of pulling content that would normally be reserved for the battle pass and releasing it in other updates. The huge New Frontiers drop in Patch 7.33 in April led to one of the biggest shifts in Dota and, Valve notes, that would not have been possible if the old battle pass development cycle was still being used.
New Frontiers was just the start and Valve is taking the community response to that update as the team moves into a development cycle focused on “building a wide variety of features and content for the game, delivered in different ways.”
The diversification of updates is now the focal point and the battle pass as it was over the last several years is now dead. There will be no 2023 Battle Pass for TI12, though Valve is going to release a TI-themed update in September.
That update will celebrate competing players, shine a spotlight on the event, and provide a way for players to contribute to the prize pool again. It will not feature cosmetics as prominently as in previous years or actually be called a battle pass at all, signifying Valve’s move away from the past and focusing on the health of the game.
“We’re already working on the next updates, and a host of new cosmetic items—and we’ve already started conversations with venues for TI 2024,” Valve said.
“By freeing Dota’s update and content cycle from the timing and structural constraints of the Battle Pass, we can go back to making content in the way we know best: by coming up with fun ideas of all scales and shapes and exploring them with you.”