Almost every game with any kind of online multiplayer interaction ships with battle passes these days, and Valve has been one of the biggest success stories of this venture. Ever since 2013, the company's immensely popular MOBA game Dota 2 has offered a paid battle pass (known as the Compendium back then) that unlocked cosmetic rewards for playing the game.
Now, Valve is moving away from the feature completely. In a blog post titled "Learning from the Past, Looking to the Future," the company revealed how it's reforming its updates for the game to be more feature-filled for all players akin to classic updates from a decade ago. While the yearly Dota 2 Battle Pass has been popular, it had swallowed up most of the development time.
"The nature of the Battle Pass is such that it could grow to encompass just about any content we produce for Dota over the year," says the company. "And, over the last few years, it did — Battle Pass season has grown to be a tremendously exciting time in Dota, but it leaves the rest of the year feeling barren by comparison."
In 2022, Valve decided to take some developer resources away from the battle pass and put it towards a major update to the game. This turned out to be the recent New Frontiers 7.33 update that expanded the familiar and time-tested map and made drastic changes to the MOBA.
According to Valve, the update's titanic changes "couldn't have shipped as they did if we were focusing all our efforts on producing Battle Pass content."
"Most Dota players never buy a Battle Pass and never get any rewards from it," Valve adds. "Every Dota player has gotten to explore the new map, play with the new items, and accidentally die to a Tormentor; every Dota player benefits from UI improvements and new client features."
While Valve still has cosmetic items in the pipeline for players to purchase in the free-to-play game, diverse updates to the game will be the main focus going forward.
"By freeing Dota's update and content cycle from the timing and structural constraints of the Battle Pass, we can go back to making content in the way we know best: by coming up with fun ideas of all scales and shapes, and exploring them with you."
Designed around The International yearly tournament, the Dota 2 Battle Pass also sent a portion of its earnings to the prize pool. Increasing in size every year, the prize pool reached $40 million in 2021, but fell to about $19 million in 2022.
Now without a battle pass for 2023, Valve will ship a "TI-themed update" in September that will also let players contribute directly to the next event's prize pool. Before that though, a special update celebrating Dota 2's 10-year launch anniversary is also planned.