For anyone who enjoys online gaming, the free-to-play business model being adopted by many companies is a winning proposition. Effectively taking out the barrier to entry, you can sample what the game has to offer without having to pay up-front or rely on a potentially poor quality demo. Paid content is generally reserved for better equipment, stronger abilities, higher level caps, more quests and the like. For those who have been looking forward to Dota 2,  a new online real-time strategy game from Valve, the news that they are following suit by making the game free-to-play is very welcome indeed.

Dota 2 is a sequel to the Defense of the Ancients mod and The Frozen Throne expansion pack for Warcraft III, and it plays as an action real-time strategy game combined with leveling and currency system elements found in many role-playing games. Played from a top-down perspective,  players assume roles in one of two factions, the Radiant and the Dire, with each faction occupying a corner of the map and battling it out with the opposing side. Each side sets up a stronghold called “Ancient Fortresses” and the objective becomes battling your way to the enemy’s fortress and destroying it. Your combat proficiencies vary depending on you level and specific attributes like strength, intelligences and agility.

In addition to being free-to-play from the beginning, Valve has taken it a step further by making the entirety of the Dota 2 free. Unlike the “pay to win” structure that some other games have adopted, you can have a full roster of characters, dubbed “heroes”, and all the inventory, skills and level perks that the game has to offer. The in-game store that Valve has also announced will sell items that provide only cosmetic enhancements, such as new gear and customizable outfits for your heroes. None of the items sold will affect gameplay, as the developers feel that such a system would be detrimental to the overall experience.

Dota 2 was first announced in 2010 and public showings of early gameplay footage have been met with very positive reviews from the gaming press. The game is currently in closed beta and is scheduled for release in 2012 on PC and Mac, with the exact date yet to be confirmed.

via[Dota 2 Blog]