Esports’ most prolific fundraising drive is officially underway, and this year Valve is reaching higher than ever.
The Dota 2 Compendium, a $10 interactive digital booklet—25 percent of which goes directly to the International prize pool—released this morning with high expectations. The annual tournament garnered global media attention last year with a total prize pool of nearly $11 million, and this year’s Compendium promises graduating rewards should the prize pool reach $4 million beyond that.
Like any crowdfunding campaign, The International’s fundraising effort revolves around stretch goals. This year’s include everything from a vote on the game’s next major hero skin to a short film contest to a long-form comic involving the game’s fiery off-laner, Axe. With additional goals including emoticons, an adorable dragon courier, and a desert skin for the game’s lush jungle map, the package is more than enough to entice devoted players to take the plunge.
Players can contribute additional funds to the tournament, and garner additional awards, through “compendium coins.” This digital currency can be obtained through the completion of “coin charms” and through random drops at the end of public matches.
In addition, the Compendium features “player challenges” that promise additional, team-wide compendium coin rewards if completed during a victory. Perhaps to address Dota’s reputation for selfish and often rude players, player challenges include achieving a particular number of kills or assists, or taking down team objectives in a particular threshold.
While $15 million seems like for a single tournament, Valve is likely simply providing incentives for players to contribute to esports’ most lucrative event. The developer was the target of some community disdain last year when the crowdfunding campaign outstripped the Compendium’s enumerated stretch goals, leading to what fans considered to be hastily tacked-on incentives.
All public considerations aside, the Compendium signals the beginning of Dota’s most celebrated season. With fan-service aplenty, copious rewards for supporting esports, and a consistently exhilarating tournament at the end of the journey, it’s time to hop on Steam and practice your last-hitting skills.