Somebody at Valve has flicked a switch, had a conversation or sent an email and brought about an imperceptible change in Dota 2: it’s now out and free for absolutely anybody to play, beta invite or no. Just don’t expect to be able to play it today.
The developers have fortified their servers in a recent globetrotting engineering trip, augmenting their server setup in Stockholm and Luxembourg and adding to clusters for Korea and US West. The result is that Dota is ready to receive an influx of new players on top of the already swelling beta community.
“Our thinking is that we want the existing audience to have uninterrupted access during the launch, in addition to bringing new players into Dota 2 in a way that isn’t frustrating,” write Valve. “Simply put, we want to smooth out the traditional launch spike, but at the same time allow anyone to come in and try out Dota 2.”
So it’s going to happen like this: you’ll push the ‘Get Dota 2’ button on this Steam page, and be added to a visible launch queue. Beginning this week, Valve will gradually extend emails to queued players, thereby spreading the load and avoiding any disruption for current beta types.
“New players will be added in batches,” explain Valve. “We will start letting people in and monitor how the entire system reacts, and make sure that we aren’t disrupting the entire community. Our goal is to get people in as quickly as possible.”
New to Dota at launch is what Valve are rather coldly calling the New User Experience: a set of comprehensive tutorials that will see your rough edges worn off by wave after wave of bots, should you require them. But it won’t be the last new thing, of course.
“Dota 2 will continue to move forward, just like it always has,” say Valve. “We still have old (and eventually new) heroes to release and an endless supply of features to build. We are releasing the game now because it is ready, but of course there isn’t an end to the development of the game.”
Early access passes are now redundant, unless you can find a use for them as bookmarks or fuel – but every beta player will receive a special edition commemorative pass to indicate how many new players they brought into the game.
It’s a shame Dota will miss out on the traditional launch night flood of newcomers, but evidently Valve know what need to be done to keep the game up and running – we are after all talking about, by some distance, the most-played game on Steam.