The issues surrounding Dota 2 are news to few and Valve have done something very unusual in creating this game. While it is the case that Valve have taken what were essentially mods and created full-blown games in the past, a practice now often seen in the indie movement, in this case they have taken a mod so deeply entrentched in a specific game and its world that controversy was bound to follow.
And, to an extent, I can understand the backlash by Blizzard, original DotA fans, Riot Games and others over this. It does seem a bit strange for Valve to take Dota 2 like this without getting a more workable response from the community as well as Blizzard. They only ever recruited the lead developer from the past 7 years, there were two developers before IceFrog, one of whom was the creator of what is the almost exclusively played version of the map. That creates a pretty strong case against Valve’s claim that they can register Dota 2 as a trademark.
Valve have a problem as it seems Blizzard are very willing to take them to task over the Dota 2 trademark claim and I think, as much as I dislike anything part of the great beast that is Activision, Blizzard are in the right about this one. The disappointing thing is that I have played the Dota 2 beta and Valve have a great products on their hands but I can’t help and wonder whether Valve’s aggressive push forward in developing and trademarking this while these issues remain was a bit more shrewd and manipulative that it might appear to some. Valve don’t normally have a reputation for developing something so polished, so quickly.
Certainly, Valve’s Dota 2 will come out in some form even if Blizzard wins its case and I have lost all ability to see Valve as the little guy fighting the big bad beast here because, as small as they are compared to what they now go against, they aren’t little and they should have forseen these problems. I just don’t trust Valve to throw straight dice in this. The questions I wonder are, if Valve wins this upcoming battle, will it affect Blizzard’s own DotA efforts or any continued development of the original Defense of the Ancients? With Team Fortress, Valve hired anyone and everyone who was part of the modding team and it wasn’t tied into one game’s world or mythology so deeply. IceFrog’s claim to the DotA trademark is suspect at best and the game is so bound up with Warcraft III that I can’t see Valve winning this one. At the end of it all, though, I am cheering for Blizzard on this one and I think it’ll be a good thing if Valve don’t get that trademark.
Sorry about the lack of a weekly summary last week, it’s been a busy week again.
I don’t like this whole “Kerrigan redemption” line they’ve seemed to have pulled. I think I preferred her portrayal as a wilful malevolence to what will inevitably be a much more sentimentally-portrayed and ultimately forgettable character.
* Valve Corporation have released beta authoring tools for Portal 2.
* Chris Taylor of Gas Powered Games argues that the free-to-play model is the future of PC gaming.
* Cthulhu Saves the World has been approved for Steam release, the creators are hoping for a May release.
* GoG.com have announced a weekend long sale on Activision-themed RPGs, including the Vampire: the Masquerade games.
* Opponents of piracy are pushing a new US Bill to combat piracy. It won’t work, I’m sure.
* The US Navy have taken the fight against Somali pirates online in an MMO, something it’s been building since 2009.
* Valve announced that it has no plans for a Source Engine 2, preferring incremental changes in patches to massive engine shifts.
* Brink has vanished from the UK Steam storm, but Bethesda have been fairly tight-lipped beyond that they are looking into the issue.
* Ars Technica’s Opposable Thumbs looks at the future of the Halo franchise after the release of the Defiant maps.
* After the devastation of the PSN and SOE, Sony Online’s downtime should be only a few more days.
* Also in MMO news, NCSoft has announced that Lineage’s Western servers will be shut down on the 29th June. No new accounts can be created and remaining time will be refunded.
* Epic Games will host a two day set of tutorials on the Unreal Development Kit at the East Coast Game Conference.
* Dungeon Siege III has been delayed, now releasing in late June.
* Hi-Rez has switched Global Agenda to a F2P model with those of us already having paid getting “elite agent” status.
* Funcom’s Call of Cthulhu-esque MMO The Secret World, announced four years ago, is officially on the back burner.
* Myst Online is now released as open source, fulfilling promises made as far back as 2008.
* The Call of Duty versus Battlefield 3 marketing war is estimated to end up costing US$200m. This truly is the war to end all wars.
* GameStop are opening a Facebook store. The new system allows sales and pre-orders done via the Facebook interface.
* It’s been reported that Apple has rejected PopCap’s experimental label, Unpleasant Horse, from the App Store on grounds of “maturity” issues.
* Multiplayer has, sadly, been ruled out of Mass Effect 3, but the details are looking good.
* Wrestling star The Rock wants to star in a Black Ops film adaptation. Given his last foray into game-based films, I hold little hope for great artistry.
Minecraft is leaving beta this year, with plans to release the final version on 11th November. This coincides with the release of Skyrim by Bethesda. Many may be disappointed by the fact that the final release won’t look much different from the beta (which itself is not a whole deal different from the alpha), but assurances are that development will continue. Other reports are that beta 1.5 will add weather effects.
Busy week this week, see you after the weekend.