Dota 2 Really Makes Me Want To Buy Stuff

Dota 2 Really Makes Me Want To Buy Stuff

I am 132 hours into Dota 2. During this time, I haven’t spent a single cent on the game, but damned if it’s not doing everything in its power to tempt me.

I don’t know how much longer I can hold out. In fact, I think it’s probably inevitable that I will end up spending money on what is otherwise a free-to-play game. I’ll probably spend more money than I might have ended up spending on a full-priced $US60 game, given the sheer number of things you can buy in Dota 2.

As I play, it feels like a million tiny things come together to push me over the edge onto a bad compulsion. There’s the fact that it wouldn’t actually be so bad to throw some dollars at Valve, or the folks making content for the game, given that I’m spending so much time playing it. But there are other less noble reasons, too. It’s hard not to notice, for example, that the main menu has the store button appearing before the “play” button:

Dota 2 Really Makes Me Want To Buy Stuff

The game also likes to constantly throw STUFF at you at the end of every match — pieces of costumes, items, that sort of thing. Ostensibly, this is a good thing: it means you get rewarded for playing the game. But, at least in my experience, there are so many things in Dota 2 that it seems rare to get something I actually want for a character I actually play.

Right now, receiving neat items for characters I don’t play makes me wonder about all the great items the store must have for characters I do play. Why wait who-knows-how-many hours when I could spend a little cash to get what I want right now? I’ll think, right before wanting to slap myself.

But it’s that thought that leads me to the Dota 2 store.

Dota 2 Really Makes Me Want To Buy Stuff

I won’t mince words: Fuck this place. Fuck this wondrous place full of goodies. I try not to visit the store very often, since I always end up looking at stuff that I know I don’t need. Just looking through the store to get the screenshots in this post felt a little painful.

There are the hero sets — or, a few pieces of equipment which come together to form a specific costume. I’ll look at characters I play, and my mind swings back and forth between why buying something is the best idea, or why it’s the worst idea.

I’ll look at Dragon Knight’s hero sets, for example, and go… hmm, these costumes are kind of overwrought, aren’t they?

Dota 2 Really Makes Me Want To Buy Stuff

Yet there I will be, contemplating wearing them. Pretending that I wouldn’t immediately equip any of the items in these “overdone” sets if the game just gave them to me.

I’ll zoom into sets like those on Earthshaker, and I’ll think, yes, this is great! But I only want one specific part of this set — so why spend money on the full thing? But also: if I spend money on the full thing, I’ll get the specific thing that I want. Conundrum! EDIT: I’ve been told you can buy stuff from the marketplace, but that’s not really a solution to the issue, given that I’m trying *not* to spend money on Dota 2 right now!

Dota 2 Really Makes Me Want To Buy Stuff

I’ll look at characters like Kunkka and go, wow, what an embarrassing, awful hat…but I want it:

Dota 2 Really Makes Me Want To Buy Stuff

I’ll look at costumes for Skywrath Mage and think, it’s the most badass thing ever, but that there’s no way I could wear it without basically putting a target on my head:

Dota 2 Really Makes Me Want To Buy Stuff

I know how it goes. Developers like to tell you that cosmetic items only make superficial changes to a game, but no, that’s not exactly true. Costumes carry social dynamics with them. I’ve played games where someone will target me or other folks for daring to wear something flashy — the thinking being, they wouldn’t wear the item in question unless they were an arsehole, right? So why not troll them? They deserve it anyway. Right?

It’s especially bad if your character is sort of hated to begin with. Every game has a character like this — sometimes it’s because the character is overused, or too powerful, or there’s something about their design that just rubs people the wrong way. Think of them as the Dawn of the group. Nobody likes Dawn. Dawn very well might have done nothing wrong, but there’s just something about her name, her very existence which makes you want to kill her. (I’m sorry, readers named Dawn.)

Sniper is definitely the Dawn of Dota 2. As much as I enjoy playing the character, and as much as I like some of his costumes, like this one:

Dota 2 Really Makes Me Want To Buy Stuff

I would never actually buy it. People already hate this character as it is, I don’t want to make it worse on myself.

In any case, I’ll inevitably end up at a character that seems to have nothing but great costumes, like Sven:

Dota 2 Really Makes Me Want To Buy Stuff

And I’ll immediately have to close Dota 2 before I buy everything Sven-related.

Even characters I don’t particularly want to play tempt me. Tidehunter, for example? I’m a shit Tidehunter. I’ve developed no connection to the character, either. But man if I don’t want this hat anyway.

Dota 2 Really Makes Me Want To Buy Stuff

I’m almost thankful that the store doesn’t seem to have anything for certain heroes I like, such as Zeus.

Then there’re the couriers, the little critters that deliver items to you during matches.

Dota 2 Really Makes Me Want To Buy Stuff

These little guys are worse than the hero sets, because they’re so damn precious. I don’t typically end up playing as the character who buys the courier, but I’m definitely tempted to buy a special courier just to see it in-game.

I mean, look at this little dude. I don’t even know what in the world he is, but I want it:

Dota 2 Really Makes Me Want To Buy Stuff

Auuuugh. Maybe it’s more accurate to say I want a Pokemon-like game that revolves around Dota 2’s adorable critters, but still.

It’s sort of genius, too. The couriers, in combination with wards — which let you keep watch over areas of the map by lifting the fog of war — are cosmetic items which are well-designed and encourage you to play more strategically. I’ve played plenty of matches where people refused to buy the courier, but maybe they’d be more willing to spend a little in-game gold on the courier if they thought it was cute. Wards, meanwhile, are criminally underutilized. Same logic applies here though: if you have special ones, why not actually use them in battle? The fact you’ll help out your entire team by doing so is the icing on the cake.

Dota 2 Really Makes Me Want To Buy Stuff

Not everything in the Dota 2 store calls out to me. I’m not really interested in announcers, or HUD stuff, for example. But there’s enough in the store that I covet that I try my best to steer clear of it, lest I end up spending a regrettable amount of money on silly stuff.

This situation is absurd, I know. My problem is that the game is free — so there’s like a $US60 negative space in my wallet that is tempting me to fill it. It’s…not really an actual “problem.” And yet I’m proud of myself for staying strong for this long. I know this is a battle I’ll end up losing, I know it’s just a matter of time before I buy something in the game. But for now, screw you Dota 2. You haven’t beaten me just yet.


  • Played about 200 hours of Dota 2, never been tempted to buy anything. This is how F2P is done

    • Why? If you like the game enough to play for $200+ hours wouldn’t you want to reward the developers?

      • 200 hours is not a long time at all for Dota 2 – it’s the point where you just start to understand the absolute basics. At this stage I’ve not yet even begun to come close to mastering a single character and am still trying many of them out for the first time.

        It’s in my nature not to purchase costumes or accessories for characters I can’t use well – which at the moment is all of them. I say this is the right way to to F2P because I will inevitably purchase aesthetic items once I feel good with a character. The fact that it allows me to play without restriction until I reach that point is excellent, hence why I think it’s F2P done right.

        I reached the point of feeling like a decent player in Hearthstone much faster than this game, and have purchased $60 worth of cards and the Naxx expansion. In Street fighter IV, I took a long time to get decent with Abel, and then purchased additonal costumes for him.

        My point was not clear in my initial comment so I get the (admittedly minor) backlash. I’m not against spending money in F2P games at all. I just love that Dota 2 places no restrictions on your access to the game if you choose to not spend money immediately.

    • That’s how F2P is done?

      Think about what would happen if every player was like you, and didn’t buy anything :p

  • I’ve played >700 hours of Dota 2 and have spent over $60. However I have around $90 worth of items. Play for long enough and the game pays for itself. You can even sell sets that you no longer want.

  • mm your best bet is to start selling your collected cards, if you aren’t interested in them then check out what you can buy on the marketplace, that or look at the items you have got and sell them on the marketplace or trade them with other players.

    I did this recently and made like 15 bucks it was great, but now I no longer have any cards.

  • Definitely better resolve than I, 150hrs and I’ve spent about $10 heh

    Couldn’t resist the Stanley narrator and glados announcers.

  • My Dota 2 entry shows 816 hours played. I’ve spent 30.00 in total. I bought the basic pack for both international compendiums and a bunch of other stuff off of a friend.

    I only have 117 games on my record. Only level 11 at the moment. Oops.

  • It is all about how you feel. You can buy things and feel your supporting the teams who helped the games.

    Go to the market place and buy items. You can get basically a set for less than a $1. Even better chest sets now are so good for $2.5-$4.5, Sets use to cost $15.

    Alternatively sell the rares you do win in dota for steam cash and buy what you want.

    • Yeah it’s all a matter of wanting to support the game and the teams who play. Bear in mind Dota 2 is completely free so the money Valve make off it is from your optional cosmetic purchases. And like atrax has said stuff is also a lot cheaper in the market place!

  • Yeah… I’m up to nearly 2000 hours. I also have a major problem with buying items and spending money on the game. I got my girlfriend into the game and have bought her every crystal maiden item because she loves playing dress up with her. I have no idea how much I’ve spent on the game but last time. I checked it was up to 700.00…. And that was pre international… My compendium Is level 502…. I can’t help it Lol… Think I have 28 pages of items. But one way I look at it is how Many hours I spend on the game. :p

    • Some people spend that on alcohol on a weekend. At least you’ll remember what you’ve bought, and the fun you’ve had. I hope you’re having fun, anyway!!

  • I have a few friends who play LoL religiously and I used to give them crap for spending over $100 on cosmetic changes.

    I recently got back into LoL and sure enough I’ve spent around $15 on skins in the last month. But as someone stated above, I can justify my spending as I’m getting more playtime and enjoyment out of it than some games I’ve paid $100 for.

  • I’ve just hit the 1600 hour mark of Dota (Life.exe not found), and I reckon that the game is still probably conforming to my personal rule of $1 per hour played to make it worth it.

    I’d really rather not count how much I’ve bought in this, BUUUUUUUUUUUUUUT it is my all-time favourite game, so there’s that I suppose. I tell myself.


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