Once upon a time, there was a game called Defense of the Ancients (DotA) Well, actually it’s still around, but that’s besides the point.  What started as a Warcraft III mod soon became it’s own genre, and once the allure of DotA began to fade, worthy successors (clones if you will) popped up in the forms of the hardcore (Heroes of Newerth) and the not-so-hardcore (League of Legends)

Both HoN by S2 Games and LoL by Riot Games are supported by rabid fans and have been quite successful.  However, being an experienced (albeit mediocre) HoN player myself, I jumped at the chance to sit down with the guys at S2 games to talk to them about the elephant in their arena.  What elephant, you ask?  Valve’s DotA 2.

I wanted to know if S2 was worried about an industry giant such as Valve teaming up with the man who has carried DotA since 2005 (IceFrog) to create an actual sequel to the game that itself inspired HoN.  Many people think DotA 2 will kill games like LoL and HoN, but S2 – they ain’t scared, not one bit.

So, I sat down with S2 Games Design Director James Fielding and Senior Designer Pu Liu to find out just why they aren’t afraid of the mighty Gaben:

I was surprised by S2’s confidence, even if I did think that deep down inside they were a bit nervous about what Valve’s game could do to their market share.

However, I got a real kick out of hearing James say things like “We’re interested to see how DotA 2 lives up to the bar we’ve set” and, “If I were in Valve’s shoes, I’d be a little afraid of having to follow up our act”

Yet, quite frankly, S2 has set the bar quite high.

HoN is an extremely well polished and well balanced game.  It’s got everything a DotA fan could want and S2 supports the game feverishly.  So, as Pu said, “The announcement of DotA 2 is only more motivation for us to set the bar even higher”

Should S2 be worried about Valve and DotA 2?  Only time will tell.


  1. Pff…. LoL not so hardcore? there is an ongoing battle between players of HoN and LoL, so it is best to keep them equal.
    I used to play both so i know there is alot of annoyances between the gamers.

    And about DotA 2… well… its not needed, so….many….dota…..games….

    • I’m a HoN player so I had to take a little jab at LoL ;-)

      I agree however, why the hell is Valve making DotA 2 when they have so many other great IPs they can be working with? HALF LIFE 3 ANYONE!?

  2. hahahaha delusions of grandeur much? its like Iran saying they could destroy the U.S in a war. They have no idea what they are even talking about. DOTA in itself still has a larger playerbase than their shitty clone. All competitive players realize how big a POS HON is, only casuals play that silly silly game.

      • No, I just think that it’s retarded that a company thinks it’s on top of the competition when it has only 400,000 TOTAL accounts, counting people who don’t even play the game.

          • That’s not even significant. The point he/she is trying to make is that the important factor to consider is whether HON’s player base is bigger than DOTA…and it clearly is not (you’ll find out if you do some research). What sort of bar does Value even need to meet exactly, Dota 2 will have all the balancing and details/ideas from Dota with the only new stuff being interface and controls to worry about. I can’t Value would have trouble with something like graphics and net code based on their success of many other titles they have developed. Lastly, Value’s Steam network (a huge, highly functional online community) is enough to reach any bar set by S2. Really Value would be very foolish if it manages to screw up Dota 2.

  3. Interesting video, but I don’t think that S2 can compete with Valve. Not by a chance! Games like HoN and LoL will slowly fade away and so is DotA Warcraft 3 mod.

  4. HoN is extremely well made. I love it. I am also an experienced (but mediocre) DOTA player. HoN made a lot of improvements, especially in the matching and game finding systems, but I expect Valve to at least match that. Here is where Valve could come in and beat HoN:

    1) Branding:
    By the mere act of naming it DOTA 2, Valve is setting itself up for extreme market share domination. Along the same lines, keeping the same hero names, and bringing Ice Frog along with them is going to create a huge advantage. HoN’s heroes are more or less the same, you say? Sorry, but little things like heroes keeping the same name and art style is more important than one would anticipate. This was a well thought out and extremely smart business move.

    2) Art style:
    HoN is gorgeous, but there is one problem: the art style is not compatible with the gameplay. The WC3 engine was originally made with a cartoony feel, because the colors and textures needed to make up for the constraints of low polygon count models (because it was one of the first 3D RTSs, polygon count needed to be lowered to fit so many characters on the screen; not to mention by this time Blizzard had learned that their most loyal market is Asia, where you can’t always count on a gamer to have the latest rig). This explains WoW’s art style, which is based on the WC3 engine.
    This extreme look of WC3 is perfect for team battles where you have to pick out the heroes instantly. HoN is gorgeous, but when I am in a team battle, I miss the extreme models and colors of DOTA.

    Number of heroes:
    My day job happens to be actuary (basically I specialize in probability theory and apply it to insurance). True, there are 75 billion combinations of heroes in a single game of HoN, but the reality is that you end up seeing the same ones over and over again (when you consider that some heroes are better than others, that a well balanced team is usually preferred, etc, you truly do see the same heroes frequently). In Dota this is much less of a problem; there are 24 trillion combinations. (there are other ways to measure this, but this is the simplest to understand, so don’t come after me with your intro to stats course and try to correct me, please).

    It’s VAVLE:
    Valve is one of the few companies that ALWAYS over delivers. Need I say more? Especially in the same year as Portal 2, even non DOTA fans will be drooling over this.

    What do you guys think?

  5. I don’t think LoL has much to worry about — although some market share will undoubtedly be lost, LoL is a fundamentally different game from DotA.

    However, I’m not so sure about HoN. Maybe someone more familiar with the game can answer my question: assuming Valve can meet or surpass the new infrastructure HoN has set up (replays, matchmaking, observers, etc), what is the compelling reason to ever play HoN over DOTA 2? They have some extra heroes, maybe some extra items? Anything else? Is this enough to keep their customers from leaving?

  6. How sad this turn out to be… now S2 sells the game to frostburn amd they dping the same shitty job than S2 before, HoN = DED GAEM