The International 2018 officially got underway this week and surprise, there were a number of problems with various streaming feeds going down in the middle of the Dota 2 matches. Valve sent out a tweet last night apologising for the outages, but given how big and lucrative the event is, it still feels like the company should have their shit more together by now.
"We are sorry about the repeated stream downtime today", the company announced last yesterday evening. "We are working through some power problems that have caused issues with stream encoding and network hardware at the event".
This was after a day of audio issues — hopefully no one was listening with headphones on at full volume when this happened — and broadcast channels cutting to static background shots at random times, starting in the very opening moments. Valve did not respond to a request by Kotaku for further clarification on what the source of the problems was.
The event is currently in the group stage, meaning there are multiple feeds being broadcast at once for all of the matches taking place simultaneously. It is located in Vancouver's Rogers Arena this year, not its usual home in Seattle's KeyArena.
Even given these caveats, however, the game's most ardent fans haven't been so forgiving, mostly because of how much money they've given Valve in the months leading up to the tournament.
The biggest event of the year, The International, opens with audio issues. When @ODPixel's voice is finally heard, it's with the opening line:
"I'm telling you Gabe, a $40 million stretch goal for caster audio is not going to go down well with the community".
What a legend!
— Jacob Toft-Andersen (@TheMaelk) August 15, 2018
Valve funds the prize pool for The International with a combination of direct contributions and crowdfunding from everyday Dota 2 players. It's currently at just over $US24 ($33) million, $US1.6 ($2) of which came from Valve. The rest was from fans.
25 per cent of the value of all International-themed items purchased during the lead-up to the event, including the battle pass which players can pay or grind to level up and get various rewards, goes toward that figure, while the rest is pocketed by Valve.
Since players have currently funded $US22.8 ($31) million in prize money, that means the company has made roughly $US68 ($93) million just for itself. That's a large part of why fans felt the broadcasting issues experienced so far are unacceptable.
Of course, Valve's comments about power supplies and network hardware didn't help, with many people making jokes about mailing their routers and other equipment to Canada to help out. Others simply suggested Valve bribe everyone who paid for a battle pass with an extra 10 levels.
In part it's a problem of Valve's own making. Dota 2 fans can be unruly, ranging from unrealistic to completely toxic, but by relying on their penchant for spending millions on microtransactions every year leading up to the game's biggest party, the company's created a not unfair expectation that it do due diligence on when it comes to the tournament's technical setup.
So far, day two has gone more smoothly. Whatever gremlins were chewing on the ethernet cables, Valve appears to have gotten them momentarily sorted out.