Dota 2 beta invites disappeared from Steam Inventories everywhere this morning, and now we know why. After a lengthy beta during which it became the most-played game on Steam, Dota 2 has launched and is available on Steam for free.
Defense of the Ancients
Blizzard Entertainment and Valve announced in a press release today that an agreement has been reached, after a long dispute, over the use of the name DOTA, originally an abbreviation for the fan-made Warcraft III map Defense of the Ancients. Valve will retain the commercial trademark to DOTA, and will not be required to change the name of their upcoming title DOTA 2, a stand-alone sequel to the Warcraft III map.
This week, it was finally revealed that Blizzard and Riot are both disputing Valve’s attempts to trademark DOTA in the US ahead of the eventual launch of DOTA 2. The case is fascinating/horrifying for a bunch of reasons:
1) It demonstrates how grey the area of ownership of copyright and materials can be when it comes to mods and total conversions.
2) the documentation we’ve got access to gives a good detail on how Blizzard view themselves and their ownership of community content
3) It may have an interesting knock-on effect on the validity of EULAs.
4) The result of the dispute may have a knock on effect on the DOTA mod itself
5) it’s like watching your mom and dad go through the early stages of a trial separation.
In order to make sense of what’s going on I’ve been digging through Blizzard’s filed trademark objection, and what it might mean for DOTA and community content in the long run. To make it clear: the case is just about the trademark for the name DOTA.
The first point to make: at no point do Blizzard explicitly state that they wish to own the DOTA trademark. In objecting they’re not at present, trying to trademark DOTA for themselves. However, they believe that the terms DotA, Dota: DOTA and Defense of the Ancients are all part of their Warcraft 3 business. Much of their objection hinges on one word: Ancients.
Valve's Erik Johnson has told Join Dota that Dota 2 will be getting a LAN mode. "There are some systems that LAN mode requires that we haven't finished yet, mainly because we've been focused on matchmaking. We know how important this feature is for the community," says Johnson.
He also talked a bit about Valve's plans for their next big Dota 2 tournament. The Dota 2 International took place at Gamescom last year, offering Dota pros a shot at a piece of the $1.6 million prize pool. Valve are going to at least match that amount in the next tournament. Johnson said that "if you look at any major sport around the world that has an audience of similar size to Dota's you'll find that those at the very top in terms of skill tend to make a lot of money."
"Frankly, we think the teams represented at The International deserve this kind of money for what they do. We all know how hard it is to master Dota," he added.
Blizzard are appealing against Valve's use of the DOTA trademark. Kotaku have spotted a NeoGaf post that brings to light the appeal notice put before the US Patent and Trademarks office late last year
Blizzard argue that "by attempting to register the mark DOTA, Valve seeks to appropriate the more than seven years of goodwill that Blizzard has developed in the mark DOTA and in its Warcraft III computer game"
The appeal says that the original DOTA mod was originally "distributed, marketed, and promoted by Blizzard and its fans" and is "built upon the 1 Warcraft III game engine, interface, and gameplay mechanics; that is comprised of Warcraft III characters, items, spells, artwork, textures, and color palates; that can be played only using Warcraft III software and via Blizzard's online service Battle.net."
In a new entry on the Dota 2 blog, IceFrog reveals that Valve were planning on keeping Dota 2 in beta for "a year or so" so they could bring the number of heroes up to Dota 1 levels. After seeing the reaction to the Dota 2 International tournament at Gamescom, they have decided that "our original plan was dumb."
"Welcome to the new plan," writes IceFrog. "We’re going to take the current version of Dota 2, which has The International set of heroes, and get it out there as fast as we can."
After a long period of secrecy, Valve have finally revealed the new game they've been working on with one of the key developers of Defense of the Ancients community: it's Dota 2. DOTA was the common abbreviation of the original game type: fan-made maps where players control and level up a single powerful hero, while lesser AI troops fight alongside them. But Valve are using it as the full title here: it's just Dota 2. Read on for the first details.