Following on from my post about free games yesterday, I wanted to talk about the things I have bought related to Dota 2. Of course I have, in the past, criticised Valve’s own branded merchandise sold at The International for being far too expensive. I, however, have never bought physical merchandise directly from Valve. However, in the process of not doing that I have managed to spend, over the year and a bit that I have played Dota 2, around £70 on Dota 2 items.
The most expensive thing I bought was an “arcana” cosmetic for a character I play a lot: Phantom Assassin. I paid £12 for it on the community market around Christmas and it was a sort of Christmas present to myself. I was very pleased with it, especially since buying it “new” on the Dota 2 it was £22. Arcanas are the most extravagant sets sold by Valve. It completely changes the look of the character as well as some of the voice lines and pictures for abilities. Whether that is worth £22 to you or not is up to you, but I am still very pleased with it.
While I want to talk about the little things I’ve bought digitally, I’ll move onto physical merchandise because, while I browse physical Dota merchandise quite often, I don’t own a whole lot of it. The most expensive thing I have is a mousemat with the Dota 2 symbol on it. I think it was £10 and, since I have never owned a mousemat in my life, I figured I could splash out on this one. The only other piece, or I guess pieces, of Dota 2 merchandise I own are these 3 weapons from the game which I got on ebay for £1 each. They’re Centaur Warrunner’s axe, Abaddon’s Demon Edge and the Butterfly sword. They’re all about 6 inches long and have a key ring on the pommels or handles, though they’re far too big to be keyrings. They’re really high quality as they’re all made out of metal and painted really nicely. I thought that they might feel cheap but even the boxes are quite nice as they display the keyrings nicely and you can slide the back off of the box to take them out and put them back.
But now onto the smaller things. I spent too much money on the TI5 Compendium. This is my one slight regret in spending, a lapse in concentration if you will. TI5 was a really exciting time and Valve’s tactic of drip feeding their customers with regarded to the Compendium worked wonders. I bought a Compendium on the day after it was released, and it cost £6.69. I was pleased with this because, for that price, I would get 3 immortal treasures which would contain cool, special cosmetics for a random character, an announcer pack, a terrain cosmetic, a new music pack, a courier and a ward cosmetic, and a way to get new sets by playing games and completing certain challenges. If it weren’t for the last one I might have regretted buying it because, after spending £6.69 on it, I then bought two sets of 24 levels to get more of the special immortal items, both the same price as a standard compendium, 11 of the slightly cheaper sets that Valve brought out that would also give your compendium levels (I actually really liked this idea from Valve) and then 2 of the special, but far more expensive, immortal treasures that were released the week before The International main event began in earnest. All of that together comes to around £40. I’m neither happy nor unhappy with that. I was a sucker for the hype surrounding TI5 but I also know people who have spent far more on stuff from TI5, and they aren’t just random people I’ve met on the internet.
Besides that though I have bought a smattering of sets and items from the community market which makes up the difference but were some of my more worthwhile purchases because of how cheap they are. If I had had a bit of a crappy week at university then I might just buy a couple of the new treasures that came out, and that would cheer me up, make me play the heroes with the new sets that I got and, overall, put me in a good mood, even if the games that I played were rubbish.
It certainly feels like Dota 2 isn’t something that holds content back until you pay money, and I like that about it. Every aspect of the game is available from the start, but people like me enjoy having our characters look a bit different to the norm and, to a certain extent, showing off our cosmetics to other people. It’s the reason why, when a new arcana comes out for a hero, you will most likely see that hero in most of your games that you play over the next few weeks, and, ultimately, it’s harmless. It’s a game on the internet with sometimes unpleasant people but sometimes pleasant people. You could say there’s a class system but the people who own loads of cosmetics don’t have an advantage over others, they just look slightly cooler.