Valve has announced that it is to release Defense of the Ancients 2 (DotA 2) next year, a stand alone remake sequel of a multiplayer RTS Warcraft III scenario.
The original game introduced the idea that players would control a single hero and by levelling up and collecting gold they can purchase further equipment and consumables, a style of gameplay later built upon with titles such as Gas Powered Games' Demigod.
With the announcement Valve continues a tradition of producing commercial games from former mods by hiring developers from community teams such as it has done with Counter-Strike and Team Fortress 2. DotA developer IceFrog wa shired by Valve in 2009 and has been working on the game ever since.
In a familiar PC Gaming theme, one of the reasons for DotA's success was the long tail of development with constant updates, another Valve strategy which it has used to good success to prolong the love of many PC multiplayer classics. DotA 2 will, unsurprisingly, be based on Valve's own Source engine which promises a leap forward in visual capability over the aging Warcraft III engine.
"The company plans on approaching Dota 2 with the same dedication that won it the fanatical devotion of the Team Fortress 2 community," Valve boss Gabe Newell told Game Informer. "Pushing out dozens of updates that do everything from adding new hats to fixing balance issues to introducing entire new match types for free," he added.
Armed with a radical set of ideas about incorporating the game community back into the game and with Valve's unblemished record of success in PC multiplayer gaming, DotA 2 is looking to once again take the multiplayer market by storm. This looks set to raise fresh questions about the impact on the gaming console market.
While fans of the Xbox 360 console, Valve have been critical of Microsoft's limited free update policy on Xbox Live, holding back free content updates for Team Fortress 2 and Left 4 Dead on the Xbox 360. Recently the firm reversed critical statements made about the Sony PlayStation 3 (mainly relating to hardware) and declared te PS3 the 'most open' console for allowing free updates over the PSN service.
The action RTS format of DoTA bodes particularly well for success on games consoles versus the first-person shooter genre. If DoTA2 becomes the next big thing Microsoft may be forced to reexamine the firm's Xbox Live free update policy lest the Xbox 360 become the only hobbled platform for a 2011 multiplayer blockbuster.
Game Informer has an exclusive preview on the upcoming Defense of the Ancients 2.