Gabe Newell talks Dota 2: Free-to-play “with some twists”

Gabe Newell was talking again, and so people were listening. The topic this time was, as usual, not Half-Life or what the hell they’re doing with it. Instead it was Dota 2 and what the hell they’re doing with that. The big thing: It’s free-to-play… with twists.

What twists? What it boils down to is trying to suppress the amount people who can often be dicks while playing these types of games.

“We’re trying to figure out ways so that people who are more valuable to everybody else [are] recognised and accommodated [for]. We all know people where, if they’re playing, we want to play, and there are other people where if they’re playing we would [rather] be on the other side of the planet.

“It’s just a question of coming up with mechanisms that recognise and reward people who are doing things that are valuable to other groups of people.”

What’s that mean? It means that Valve is wanting to reward a player not just for playing awesomely, as that surely is valuable to the group of people on his/her team, but also for maybe helping someone who doesn’t win so much or writing a guide. You know… helpful things. Imagine unlocking a hero for something like that.

In a past interview, Newell discussed offering Dota 2 for free to a really friendly, good-spirited player of Team Fortress 2, while a huge jerk may have to pay to play, or even “an extra hundred dollars if they want voice.” Harsh.

With all the talk of rewarding players and pushing them to benefit a community around a game, the question arose whether Valve was looking to turn Steam into a sort of social network. He responded saying the focus was on providing chances for users to improve the experience for everyone else “and there are a bunch of different ways that can occur – whether from things that look like traditional social networking notifications to higher-value activities.

“As far as I know, Facebook doesn’t have the ability for people to fundamentally modify or edit the underlying Facebook experience.”

It all sounds bold and ambitious… and very Valve, but also very welcome. I certainly speak for most when I say it’d be nice if they can actually create an environment that is supportive and encouraging. That alone could increase a multiplayer game’s community size by quite a bit.

A lot has been bubbling at Valve lately, and it will be exciting to see what they bring us in the coming years… like maybe a new Half-Life