The TI8 prize pool is set to break TI7’s record, which capped at $24,787,916 USD. Or at least, that’s what most Dota 2 fans would love to hear. And while that’s probably going to be true once the crowdfunding period ends, it’s hard to believe that it’s going to beat last year’s prize pool by a huge amount.
Of course, this was an eventuality. The TI8 prize pool might not dip below TI7’s, but it’s illogical to expect every year’s prize pool to grow bigger than the previous one. That’s not just how things work when you’re dealing with a finite and dwindling number of people willing to throw their own money to support the game.
It’s no secret that Dota 2’s player base is dwindling, and it’s not like it’s alone. The peak popularity of MOBAs has since passed, and a slow, steady decline is to be expected in the years to come.
But, where’s the fun in that?
With the TI8 prize pool expected barely set a new record, let’s assume that Valve are in panic mode and looking for ways to try and remedy this.
Lucky for them, we have a couple of ideas.
Release Another Collector’s Cache
We’ve already seen this year’s Collector’s Cache, and while it was pretty underwhelming by many standards, the numbers say that it wasn’t all that bad.
Case in point, the TI6 Collector’s Cache saw the prize pool jump from 9.1 million USD to $10.5 million USD in 3 days after it was first released. The year after, the TI7 Collector’s Cache resulted in $1.7 million USD bump as the prize pool went from $11 million USD to $12.7 million USD in its first three days. As for this year, the TI8 Collector’s Cache did pretty well, causing the prize pool to go from $11.5 million USD to almost $13 million USD in the same amount of time.
Although the jump regressed from the year before, it’s not exactly by much. That means, a lot of people still bought the Collector’s Cache.
So, if Valve wanted to give the TI8 prize pool a quick boost or two, why not just release another? It’s easier to sell than the three treasures since it’s sold separately and people will always find ways to justify their expenditures with the collector’s cache because “it adds levels”.
Unfortunately, the downside is that this would be the first time they’d do it, which means, next year, they’d probably be expected to do it again, and if the prize pool threatens to dip, what do they do? Release another? With there not being enough sets and workshop creators to go around — which, by the way, is Valve’s own undoing — finding 17 more sets (34 if they add even one more) might just be too much.
Retroactively Add More the Rewards
This one is an idea based on the fact that this year’s rewards are more spaced out than that of previous years.
According to Reddit user /r/Vancha, at both Level 150, the TI5 Battle Pass would’ve given you one (1) more Immortal II treasure, five (5) more Immortal III treasures, a new HUD (a thing of the past), three (3) different weathers, a new follower plus an upgrade, an Immortal plus Upgrade, an Effigy plus two (2) Reforgers, four (4) loading screens (no longer used except for your account profile), three (3) Emoticon Packs, and finally, one (1) non-tradable, non-marketable, all-exclusive Dessert Terrain.
Of course, it’s not all lopsided. You do get one (1) more Immortal I treasure and one (1) Courier upgrade for your troubles with a Level 150 TI8 Battle Pass.
It’s a slightly unfair comparison seeing that the TI5 Battle Pass is widely considered as the best reward-wise, but even when compared to TI6’s and TI7’s, the rewards for this year’s battle pass is underwhelming. Although there are a lot of inclusions that come with it — Underhollow, Cavern Crawl, Team Challenge, Ranked Queue, Tipping, Predictions, and more — there’s just not enough incentive to go out and buy more levels.
Lift the Trade Restrictions and Make Chat Wheel Permanent
Starting with the TI7 Battle Pass, Valve has chosen to “limit” the marketability of the items gained from the treasures, except the rare, very rare, ultra rare, and cosmetically rare items. While it’s commendable that Valve has been actively trying to crack down on betting sites that allow the use of in-game items to bet on their games, but they’re doing so arguably at the expense of the TI8 prize pool.
Lifting the trade restrictions alone, however, won’t be enough. In fact, it might even backfire. Players who are shrewd enough will likely just buy the cosmetics they want from the market instead of levelling up their battle pass to get more treasures. Business-wise, that make this decision counterintuitive.
Insert, the Chat Wheel responses.
It’s no secret that the Chat Wheel responses are one of the main reasons why a lot of players spend money on their battle pass, as shallow as that may sound. But, because it’s no permanent, a lot of people are hesitant to spend money to support Dota 2 and the TI8 prize pool to receive something that they might not even be able to enjoy it at all.
Making the responses permanent, though, solves that problem. The best part? Valve doesn’t even have to make it permanent for everyone. They could make it temporary unless you have levelled your Battle Pass to at least 1,205, which is when the Epic Caster Pack is rewarded — arguably the best of all of them.
If they did, Valve would have just about every other pro Dota 2 player levelling up their Battle Pass to at least 1,205, and the rest would follow suit.
“Sell” Beta Access to Artifact
This is a slightly controversial take, but one that Valve probably isn’t above taking. After all, back in 2012, Valve sold access to Dota 2 via the Early Access Bundle for $39.99. Dota 2 may have since become free-to-play, but we know that Artifact won’t be. Considering that Valve will probably reveal Artifact’s official release date and an actual gameplay trailer at The International 2018, offering early access to Artifact would be a nice enough incentive for people to bring out their wallets and level up their Battle Pass.
Just like The International 2017, players who make it to level 1000 this year will receive a special glow effect for the in-game fountain Aegis, in addition to the TI8 Collector’s Aegis, which is an exclusive 1/5th-scale alloy replica of the same Aegis of Champions that the tournament’s winners will receive. Then, at level 2000, players will receive a replacement for Roshan’s in-game model, and of course, the 2018 Collector’s Baby Roshan.
Level 1500 leaves an extremely attractive gap to add in another surprise reward in the last few weeks before the start of the big event. Although not a lot of people would probably buy enough levels to get access to Artifact, they would be able to sell to a handful that would love to play Artifact before everyone else, and that could be enough to boost the TI8 prize pool by a couple of million.
If that happens, the TI8 prize pool could very well go past the $30 million USD mark, which isn’t exactly all good news because what would Valve do next year to top that?
Valve doesn’t really have to do anything.
For all the complaining that the Dota 2 community has done and will continue to do, the fact remains that the TI8 prize pool is still set to eclipse last year’s. Maybe not by much, but it’ll still set a new record for the eighth year in a row. Better yet, it’ll be easier to go past it next year since it hasn’t gotten too big yet.
Hopefully, though, if they choose to stand pat, Valve takes a close look at this year’s Battle Pass and consider changing things up a bit for the better.
As already mentioned earlier, the game’s player base isn’t exactly going up. It’s not going down. At least, not drastically, by any means. But, with PC-exclusive MOBAs drawing less and less interest among today’s gamers, there will inevitably come a time when the TI prize pool will not be making records.
The TI8 prize pool may end up being slightly larger than last year’s, but even if Valve pulls out all of the proverbial stops, the TI prize pool will stop growing at some point.
It is an eventuality that we all just have to accept.
What do you think Valve should do to boost the numbers of the TI8 prize pool? Do you think it’s better if they just stand pat and let things unfold? Be sure to let us know your thoughts in the comments down below.