DOTA is "needlessly inaccessible" says League of Legends developer at GDC

GDC 2011 - LoL talk thumbnail

Speaking at GDC, League of Legends developer Riot Games have said that Warcraft III custom scenario Defence of the Ancients is 'needlessly inaccessible', and that League of Legends is a kind of spiritual successor that brings the DOTA experience to a wider audience.

Developers Tom Cadwell and Steve Snow explained how League of Legends took inspiration from DOTA, realising that the concept was "needlessly inaccessible" and unavailable to anyone outside its niche. With no large-scale promotion, DOTA still reached a vast audience, with over 10 million downloads of the Warcraft 3 custom map per release, without a commercial model. Riot Games took on the task of bringing DOTA to a wider audience with League of Legends and made changes to make the DOTA-style experience more streamlined. Read on for the details.

Riot also made changes to the DOTA formula to make the game a better player experience. For example, the beloved DOTA tactic of 'denying' (killing your own Hero character to prevent the enemy gaining XP) was removed, but Riot were careful to explain this to the community to ensure a positive reaction.

“We were as transparent as possible" explained Tom Cadwell, explaining that even the president of Riot Games would go into chat to answer player's questions.

"It was player tactics such as denying that made DOTA a bit of a rough game. DOTA has a reputation for being a 'ragey' community. Having your teammates toss racial slurs makes people not want to play the game. We thought the mechanics of the game incentivised negative interactions... positive team experiences make people want to hang around."