Valve Finally Confirms Dota 2's Latest Loot Box Was Bugged

Image: Valve, Dota 2

After days of players complaining of a rare item not dropping in Dota 2’s latest loot box, Valve put out a statement yesterday confirming that they were right: Theories that the loot box was bugged weren’t sour grapes, but actually true.

On August 1, Valve released “Immortal Treasure III”, the newest Dota 2 loot box containing rare cosmetics for a handful of the game’s heroes, linked to the game’s big annual tournament taking place in mid-August. A lot of people bought it. Including me. Some even bought it several times over, opening dozens of them in search of one of its rarest items - a special mask for the game’s Witch Doctor character.

They didn’t get it, though. And not just a few people but, as scores of angry comments on the game’s subreddit showed, quite a few.

On August 3, Valve posted about the matter on Steam, acknowledging that after days of thinking anecdotal accounts by players weren’t representative of the overall population, it had discovered that the loot box was indeed bugged.

The Immortal treasures are supposed to have escalating odds meaning that the more you open, the better your odds of finally getting the rarest stuff possible, but for a lot of players this feature wasn’t triggering correctly.

Screenshot: Kotaku, Valve

“We looked into it to see if there were any differences between the drop rates of those items, and found that all three were identical, so we just assumed it was anecdotal cases and selection bias,” wrote Valve. As more and more complaints kept coming in, however, the company decided to investigate the matter further despite its initial scepticism.

“Late last night we eventually found a bug that existed for all the Immortal treasures this season,” Valve wrote. “It primarily affected players who opened a very large number of treasures, causing the drop rates to not escalate as quickly as they did last year. And since the volume of Treasure 3s were lower than the other two, it was a more visible bug to players.”

To address the problem, Valve said it will be giving players rerolls for the boxes they’ve already opened, fixing the bugs for unopened ones, and adding 10 levels to every player’s battle pass.

Long before games such as Fortnite and Rocket League started using battle passes, Valve was using them to fund the multi-million dollar prize pool for the International, its annual Dota 2 tournament. Players can earn levels for their battle pass by playing, or paying for them outright. A certain percentage of all the proceeds from it go to the prize pool, which for 2018 is just north of $US23 million ($31 million).

As players gain levels, they unlock new rewards such as Immortal Treasure III. Some players had paid hundreds of dollars in order to get them, since they drop every 30 levels after 240.

A similar problem plagued last year’s Immortal Treasure III, which players noticed was being suspiciously stingy with its rare drop for a different character. Valve quietly patched that loot box eventually as well, but without ever acknowledging it more publicly beyond a small mention in a set of patch notes. Valve was surprisingly more forthcoming about the issue this time around, possibly because it’s the second year in a row that it’s happened.

With any luck those players who invested a lot of money or time grinding for this year’s rare drops will see them pop up in their inventory after Valve’s manual re-rolls.


    This is the kind of dodgy bullshit that gambling regulation is there to curb.

      My thoughts exactly. That's why we have Gaming Commissions to keep the casinos honest. We need the same for video games with gambling elements so that all their code is audited by a 3rd party.

      There's a big difference between intentionally scamming customers, and accidentally doing it. Valve appears to be the latter - as soon as the problem was identified and confirmed, they retroactively gave the players all the rewards that they were entitled to.

      Not only that; there were 3 loot boxes in the set, and Valve recognized that the problem affected the previous loot boxes as well as the latest one, whereas players had only cried foul over the third one. Valve retroactively gave players the rewards from the first two loot boxes as well, when just correcting the third one would have been enough to quell the outrage.

      I'm not saying that Valve didn't fuck up, but their reaction has pretty clearly been that of a company that made an honest mistake and then did everything possible to fix it, rather than one that's been caught out doing something dodgy and is doing the minimum possible to get out of hot water.

        While intentionally scamming punters is definitely bad, so is unintentionally scamming them. Which is why regulators will penalise that too.

        Looking at the compensation Valve is handing out for this incident, it effectively costs them nothing. So there is no financial incentive to do better next time around. And the amount of compensation is much lower than what some customers probably paid.

        I imagine that some people would have decided to continue buying loot boxes until they got the reward they were after. Given that there is a random component involved, how do you determine how many "excess" loot boxes were purchased due to the incorrect odds?

        Perhaps a more fair way of handling compensation would be to determine how much lower the value of the loot boxes were due to the incorrect odds, and credit the difference to everyone who bought the loot boxes (and refund it in the same form people paid for it: you can offer it as wallet credit, but if someone paid by credit card, refund it to that account).

          So there is no financial incentive to do better next time around. And the amount of compensation is much lower than what some customers probably paid.

          They literally gave everyone what they were entitled to, how is that lower? And people that really wanted those drops could just buy them on the market for $10-20, so anyone that spent more than that trying to get the drop probably deserves to lose their money.

          The loot boxes were just rewards for levelling up the compendium - you couldn't actually buy the boxes individually. Sure, some players might've levelled up their compendium to get the treasures, but they weren't explicitly paying for loot boxes and the treasures were just one type of reward among several.

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