Continuing with the new and improved Valve elease schedule, studio head Gabe Newell is apparently comfortable telling fans of DOTA 2 that the game will be free-to-play, albeit with a twist. We’re still not sure what that entails, but Newell did go on to explain that the development team’s main goal going forward will be placing value into each player’s contribution to the DOTA 2 community.

The much-beloved head of Valve touched on the subject during an as-yet unreleased podcast of Seven Day Cooldown. Having already spilled headlines on Half-Life 3 (er, Ricochet 2), it’s not surprising he’s in the mood to continue giving fans some solid and exciting news. Quoth the man himself on the nature of Dota 2:

“It’s going to be free-to-play — it’ll have some twists, but that’s the easiest way for people to think about it”

The aforementioned twists seem to be focused on player contribution to the community. Though we don’t know how such a system would be calculated, it’s clear that players who spend time tutoring and guiding others would certainly benefit in value from their deeds:

“We’re trying to figure out ways so that people who are more valuable to everybody else [are] recognized and accommodated. We all know people where if they’re playing we want to play, and there are other people where if they’re playing we would [rather] be on the other side of the planet. It’s just a question of coming up with mechanisms that recognize and reward people who are doing things that are valuable to other groups of people.”

Of course, everyone wants to be on a team where they actually help one another out and organize strategies, and steer clear of glitch-seeking or griefers. If there’s an automated way to do this, all the better! Newell went on to state that this kind of system could be implemented in many kinds of games, and has previously spoken about the unique pricing schemes scaled to player behavior made possible through digital sales.

Newell disregarded the idea that matching players on these values comes fairly close to social networking, seeming to believe that their strategy is far more meaningful:

“It really is more a legacy of John Carmack’s way of thinking about things than it is social networking. It’s just that now we have the horsepower and the experience in the gaming community to try and figure out how all these experiences get knit together in a way that’s valuable.”

It’s very interesting to see a gaming company attempt to ‘personalize’ experiences by placing you with similarly-valued players. It’s one of those announcements which may not seem like a game changer – like when Google silently rolled out their Personalized Searches – but after that, the search engine was different for everyone who used it. The same may now be true for online gaming in Valve’s DOTA 2, for better or worse.

What do you think about Gabe’s interview? Do you think this ‘twist’ will add depth to the gameplay, like purchasing items did in Team Fortress 2? Do you like the idea of placing value on players?

Dota 2 is forecasted for a 2012 release on the PC and Mac.

Feel free to follow me on Twitter @Makelevi, where if Gabe had a twitter account I would constantly retweet everything.

Source: Seven Day Cooldown (via TheVerge)

tags: DotA, Dota 2, Mac, PC, Steam, Valve