Dota 2

The irritating thing about Sea of Thieves living just on the Windows Store—aside from the process of using the store itself—is that you're bound by the game's price on there. You can't buy Rare's co-op pirate game through Steam or other third-party retailers. In the UK, that means the PC version is a relatively steep £50, more than most major publisher games are priced on Steam. This led to a recent conversation among the PC Gamer staff: how much are you willing to spend on a game? How much have you spent on games in the past? We had wildly different answers, based on our gaming preferences and, er, unhealthy addictions.

In this week's PCG Q&A, it's confession time: what's the most you've ever spent on a game? Let us know your answers in the comments. 

Philippa Warr: £522+

I have spent £522 on Dota 2. Well, sort of. That's the amount the game client has recorded, but it doesn't take into account money spent attending events or on things outside the client. Further complicating the matter is the fact that it doesn't take into account stuff like rare item drops which I sold on the Steam Marketplace and thus which added credit to my account. I'm not sure where gifts to and from friends would factor in either. 

Dota was also significant to my work in that the industry had a lack of regular staff writers who understood Dota when I was playing it a lot and thus this total doesn't factor in payment for writing about a game I had deep knowledge of, or an esports scene I was immersed in. This isn't about justification, it's about how odd it feels seeing a figure next to my account and realising I have no idea what it actually means in terms of what I spent and what I got out of that game. Besides, as a millennial, I guess if I hadn't bought digital hats I'd have only frittered it away on avocados and flat whites.

Tim Clark: £965. You know which game.

I'm afraid my answer is Hearthstone, again, and it's not even close. I really didn't want to do this, but I just trawled my Blizzard order history and in the years since I've been playing (it looks like I began in February 2014) I've spent [deep breath] £965. Before checking, I assumed the amount was close to a thousand, but seeing all the transactions written down, I still feel slightly shocked. That's £241 per year on a supposedly free to play game. Why, you absolute idiot, you no doubt wonder. Well, I guess the uncomfortable answer is because I can just about afford it—I have a steady job and don't have kids—and because ultimately I want to. 

For the most part Hearthstone has been something I've enjoyed spending time with on a daily basis. Of course off the back of a big losing streak I hate myself and want to die, but that's card games baby. I also fully concede (I also do that often) that if I were coming to the game now I would find the idea of trying to build a competitive collection incredibly intimidating. But I guess I'm okay with keeping my existing one up to speed so that I can play whatever meta deck I fancy. Ultimately I view it as less buying a single game and more investing in my hobby, like I might with fly fishing, or drone flying, or other outdoor things I'm absolutely not going to do. 

It's... it's a sickness, isn't it?

Samuel Roberts: about £80

I don't play MMOs or free-to-play games, but I'm generally down for buying DLC packs for singleplayer games I like. This usually means I can end up spending double the amount of the game on these expansions—BioWare and Bethesda RPGs are good examples of this. Hot damn, those DLC packs are crapshoots, though. You never know if you're going to score a Lair of the Shadow Broker or something that expands on a part of the game you don't like (I can't bring myself to play Inquisition's Deep Roads-themed DLC, for example, as I have no intention of ever returning to the Dragon Age universe's underground caves).

This is a level of financial commitment I can live with. The most I've ever spent on microtransactions is £24 worth of Shark Cards for GTA Online, but since I've played that for over 130 hours, I can justify it to myself. I really wanted to fit missiles to my Batmobile. Sometimes joy has a real-world cost. 

Steven Messner: Around $1260

I'm going to split this into a couple of smaller answers because when it comes to spending money on a game, the reason matters. If we're just looking at gross totals, the answer is undoubtedly World of Warcraft, which I have been playing off-and-on since I was about 14. If we do some rough math and say that, in the 14 years since I've been playing I've only maintained a subscription for half of that time (which is super generous), I'd have sunk about $1,260 USD into it. But that means that WoW has also given me seven years of fun and enjoyment, so in hindsight that seems like a pretty good investment. In fact, I don't regret any of the money I've spent on MMOs—and I used to pay two subscriptions to EVE Online so I could play multiple accounts simultaneously.

But when it comes to spending money on microtransactions, you'll find I have a bit of an illness. I can remember multiple 2AM nights where I sat staring bleary-eyed at Hearthstone's storefront doing mental gymnastics to justify why $70 for 60 packs seems like a good idea. I've done similar with Rocket League, CS:GO—the list goes on. Right now, my current obsession is Path of Exile. I've dumped at least a few hundred into cosmetics because what's the point of being a god-slaying badass if you don't look the part? The one thing I'll say in defense of my bad purchasing habits is that these are all games that have returned my initial investment hundreds of times over. I've played Rocket League for 500+ hours, I think I can spend a little extra on some dumb cosmetics and still count my investment as in the black.

Evan Lahti: $512.94

If you would've asked me how many CS:GO keys I've purchased over the modest 1000 hours I've put into the game, I probably would've said 40 or 50—plenty, but from what I remember from my 2014 heyday, most of the stuff I picked up was in trades, skin gambling, or off the Community Market.

Checking my Steam Account History for the first time, it seems that between August 2013 and February 2017 I bought 206 CS:GO weapon case keys at $2.49 per. That's $512.94. Ho-ly shit. Yow. And out of that, I can't even say that I have anything especially valuable. csgobackpack.net seems to think that my CS:GO inventory's worth $545, but that's including a $106 dollar Huntsman Knife that was gifted to me. The best critique I can offer of CS:GO's loot boxes at this stage—if I can be trusted at all at this point—is that I own maybe three or four skins that I truly love.

Joe Donnelly: £99.94, just this year

Besides a nasty obsession with Habbo Hotel furnishings towards the end of 2001—a perfect if costly distraction from studying for high school prelim exams—I've never really invested real money in a videogame. Well, rather, I hadn't really invested real money in a videogame until my recent foray into GTA Online. At the end of January this year, I splashed for the game's Criminal Enterprise Starter Pack for 40 quid. Then I played for a few weeks without spending a penny. And then I bought a couple of Shark Cards for £11.99 a piece. And then I bought one or two more. And having just checked my Steam account transaction history, I now realise I've actually purchased five of the same premium tokens all told. Which means I've spent £99.94 on GTA Online in the last eight or so weeks. Jeeso. 

That's a lot of money, but, in all honesty, I don't regret it. Please spend your own money wisely, folks, but I found the starter pack to be helpful while raising my character's level, and I've had some great fun over the past several weeks revelling in my spread of frivolous office upgrades, cars and cosmetics. 

James Davenport: Got drunk last night and spent $60 on Fortnite

I’ll keep this brief because I’m tired and hungover, but I woke up to an email stating I dropped $60 in Fortnite for a pile of goddamn V-Bucks. I don’t know how it happened. Saw that pot-of-gold pickaxe and must’ve blacked out. I’m OK, I just might need some time away to think. 

Dota 2

It's probably for the best that Hladki has a sense of humour, given the likely comments here.

Blanket statements made about statistics are dangerous. How any set of data is interpreted can lead to wildly different conclusions being drawn, and trust me, things are about to get wild. Yesterday, at the Games Developers Conference in San Francisco, Yauheni Hladki told his audience that: “The result that we’ve come with is that all the esports far surpass traditional sports in terms of skill”. And yes, that raised some eyebrows clean off their foreheads. “Why?” he thankfully went on to ask. The answer: "Because the sample size is huge and tremendous. For every single team, for every single player in esports, they play far more games than professional athletes." 

By the sheer amount of games, the sample size becomes so big that the possibility for randomness almost goes to infinity.

Hladki

It still sounds like an outlandish claim, but in his GDC talk entitled “Why It's So Much Harder to Predict Winners in Esports”, Hladki seemed extremely confident. He’s certainly well-qualified to speak on the subject, having built up plenty of esports experience in his role as the StarSeries commissioner at StarLadder. He’s been involved with running leagues for games across the entire spectrum of esports, from mainstream favourites CS:GO, Dota 2 and Hearthstone to the somewhat less well-known World of Tanks scene. Hladki also boasts an impressive academic background, having studied both theoretical physics and political science, both fields in which you need to know your way around an equation.

Hladki explained that his study was inspired by the work of Michael J. Maboussin, whose book The Success Equation sought to place traditional sports on a continuum between pure luck and skill. According to Hladki, these are the two components which determine the outcome of any competitive game. (If you’re mathematically inclined, F(x) and F(y)). Examining the luck factor first, Hladki notes that some games contain more of it than others. Chess, for example, features a lot less luck than ice hockey, which Hladki says is actually one of the most random professional sports. We should note also that as the sample size gets bigger (read: the number of games played increases) this factor becomes less significant as the luck evens out. Similarly, the extent to which players can demonstrate their skill will vary between games.

Bad news, chess fans. Oh, and in case you're wondering, that equation explains luck vs skill. Easy!

Hladki thinks the larger sample size we see in esports mean that luck is less of a factor. "By the sheer amount of games, the sample size becomes so big that the possibility for randomness almost goes to infinity". I'm a little skeptical at this claim. After all, is the number of games teams play in an esports league really all that different from, say, the number of games in a Premier League football season? It might be fairer to assume that here Hladki is talking about the online ranking systems you’d find in games like League of Legends or Overwatch, where players can grind away at the ladder all day in pursuit of the top ranks. There is no analogue to these in conventional sports. Players do train outside of competition, of course, but they are not formally ranked for doing so.

Perhaps even more controversially, Hladki says that esports are inherently more skillful. "To score one try in American football is very difficult." he says, "Whereas in CS:GO, the guy just comes and sprays. So every single bullet is potentially considered a try." Again, this raises some obvious questions. Perhaps he’s just simplifying things for the sake of clarity, but it’s hardly difficult to conceive of equivalent actions in sports that increase the chance of winning without the scoreboard actually being altered. A defence-splitting through-ball in soccer, for example, or perhaps a dominant first serve in tennis that puts the opponent on the back foot.

RNG is one of the challenges that I think we have to add one more variable for in esports.

Hladki

Along similar lines: why does this have to be true of all esports? Take Hearthstone, for example, a game frequently criticised for its use of random effects. This is a game where a professional player can lose to a rank 25 (the game’s lowest rank) playing a budget deck. Faced with a question about RNG from our Hearthstone-obsessed global editor, Tim Clark, Hladki said this: "The RNG is one of the challenges that I think in an esports game we have to add one more variable than what we’re basing it on right now, which is RNG factor." Which seems a little confusing, as one would assume that’s already accounted for in any model that factors luck in the first place.

With all that said, Hladki’s thesis does still ring true to a certain extent. The idea that esports games have more opportunities to show skill than conventional sports (well, maybe not Hearthstone) does have some degree of truth to it. Think about how many variables there are in a game like Dota 2—hero choices, item builds, team compositions, etc—it’s clear that there are a huge number of decisions to make, and with each of those comes an opportunity for a player to demonstrate skill. The argument Hladki may also be making is that the sheer number of people playing these competitive videogames means that those who reach a level good enough to turn pro must have inherently displayed more skill over their peers than, say, a kid who makes a college football team.

While some of Hladski’s conclusions might seem a little far-fetched, it is important to emphasise that they are all based on data, and he actively encouraged the audience to debunk his work, arguing that what esports needs is more peer-review analysis based on data. And even though his data is not publicly available yet, he promises it will be up on his Linkedin page once he has permission from the relevant game publishers. So we should exercise some caution before tearing down his conclusions. In any case, it’s great to see this kind of research into variance and skill being done for esports. It might take a few more studies before you can convince me that Pavel is more skillful than Messi, though.

All hail Pavel, the RNG king. (And statistically one of Hearthstone's most consistent performers.)

Dota 2

For the first time ever, the International Dota 2 Championships are coming to the magical land of Canada, the home of hockey, poutine, telephone poles, and other such stereotypical touchstones. Valve announced today that this year's big donnybrook will take place August 20-25 in the Rogers Arena, home of the Vancouver Canucks, in Vancouver, British Columbia. 

Tickets will go on sale at 10 am/1 pm, and 10 pm/1 am, PT on March 23, and will be available in two types: Midweek tickets, which will go for $125 CDN ($96), providing access to the first four days of the event, and Finals tickets, for $250 CDN ($191), granting access to the last two days. If you want to attend for the full stretch, you'll have to spring for both, and no VIP tickets are being offered this year.   

Tickets will be available for purchase via ticketmaster.ca, and Valve recommends that you have your account squared away and be logged in before the selling begins. That pretty much covers it, but if you have questions, the International Ticketing FAQ should be able to help you out.   

Dota 2

Valve has unveiled a new subscription-based Dota 2 service called Dota Plus, "an evolution of the Battle Pass" that will replace the Majors Battle Passes with an ongoing service that will be regularly updated with new features and content. 

Majors Battle Passes, like this one from fall 2016, included daily and weekly challenges, new cosmetics and effects, and other themed features. Dota Plus will be similar, with hundreds of new challenges including hero-specific challenges, but as an ongoing service rather than a scheduled, seasonal one. Heroes will advance through levels via XP awarded for matches played, earning level badges, new Hero Chat Wheel responses, and Shards, a new in-game currency used to unlock rewards. Subscribers will also have free access to weekly Battle Cup tournaments (non-subscribers can take part by purchasing Battle Cup tickets for $1 each) with special emoticons, profile accolades, and Shard awards for winners. 

But the real hook for serious players will likely be the Plus Assistant, a multi-function toolset that will offer hero, item and ability suggestions to help optimize builds. Those suggestions will be based on data taken from millions of recent games at each skill bracket—and if you decide to go in a different direction, a GPS-style "recalculate" button will bring up new suggestions based on your current inventory. 

Dota Plus subscribers will also have access to a "Death Summary" screen providing "a second-by-second timeline of incoming damage, stuns, and other disabling effects" in real-time, and a "Lane Strategy" feature with team-wide suggestions for lane configurations. A post-game analytics screen will wrap everything up with a full-game performance comparison based on multiple metrics and a breakdown of damage dealt by and to each hero based on sources abilities, summoned units, and attacks. 

And while the scheduling is gone, some seasonal flavor will remain: Dota Plus subscribers will get "Seasonal Terrain" visual elements on the map that will be active during each season. 

Dota Plus goes for $4 per month, with discounts for six and 12-month subscriptions. Full details are available at dota2.com.   

Half-Life 2

Gabe Newell gives a presentation at Valve about upcoming card game Artifact.

At a presentation for upcoming Dota 2-themed card game Artifact at Valve's offices in Bellevue, Washington today, Gabe Newell reiterated that Valve is getting back into developing new games beyond its current roster of multiplayer titles. After talking about Valve's focus on Steam and hardware during the past several years, which he described as "an investment in the future", Newell said "Artifact is the first of several games that are going to be coming from us. So that's sort of good news. Hooray! Valve's going to start shipping games again."

That's games, plural: Artifact isn't the only game Valve is working on. In a January 2017 Reddit AMA, Newell did confirm that Valve was working on at least one fully-fledged singleplayer game. And the following month, in roundtable interviews with PC Gamer, Newell said that Valve was working on "three big VR games." Today's statement doesn't make it 100 percent clear whether Valve has projects in development beyond these previously mentioned games, but it is a possibility. "We aren't going to be talking about it today," Newell said, "but sort of the big thing, the new arrow we have in our quiver, really, is our ability to develop hardware and software simultaneously."

Newell gave some background on Valve's projects from the last few years, like SteamVR and the Vive headset, explaining that the company was worried about the PC heading in the direction of an iPhone-esque closed ecosystem. "You can see that Microsoft was like, wow, how can we make Windows more like that? Or Zuckerberg is saying, 'well I tried to compete in the phones, I got my ass kicked, so I'm going to create this new thing, VR, which will allow me to recreate the kind of closed, high margin ecosystem that Apple's done.' And that really started to worry us, because we thought that the strength of the PC is about its openness … So we started to make some investments to offset that."

"We've always been a little bit jealous of companies like Nintendo."

Gabe Newell

Those investments, Newell said, meant they hadn't released a new game since Dota 2—but that work wasn't wasted time. "The positive thing about the Vive is, in addition to making sure that nobody created an iOS closed platform for it, was also that it gave us the opportunity to develop our in-house expertise in hardware design. Five years ago, we didn't have electrical engineers and people who know how to do robots. Now there's pretty much no project in the hardware space that we wouldn't be comfortable taking on. We can design chips if we need to, we can do industrial design, and so on. So that added to that."

With Valve's new hardware chops, it seems like we can expect more than new games from the company. "We've always been a little bit jealous of companies like Nintendo," Newell said. "When Miyamoto is sitting down and thinking about the next version of Zelda or Mario, he's thinking what is the controller going to look like, what sort of graphics and other capabilities. He can introduce new capabilities like motion input because he controls both of those things. And he can make the hardware look as good as possible because he's designing the software at the same time that's really going to take advantage of it. So that is something we've been jealous of, and that's something that you'll see us taking advantage of subsequently."

Dota 2

Final Fantasy 15 and Warhammer: Vermintide 2 are both releasing to PC very soon, and if you own a Radeon graphics card, you can already download optimized drivers for both games.

AMD's new Adrenalin Edition 18.3.1 driver release is available now and promises to deliver the best performance in each of those games (on supported hardware, of course). The new driver package is also supposed to boost performance in Dota 2—according to AMD, Radeon RX 580 owner should see up to 6 percent faster performance compared to the previous driver release, though it's not clear if that's at 4K or 1440p. That's because the release notes (PDF) lists it as "3840x2160 (1440p)." 3840x2160 is 4K, not 1440p, so one of those is obviously incorrect.

The latest driver release also fixes a few issues. They include:

  • Radeon Chill hotkey may fail to reset when Radeon Settings is restored to defaults.
  • Sea of Thieves may experience an intermittent application hang or crash during gameplay.
  • Middle-earth: Shadow of War may experience texture flickering on trees or hills when using multi GPU enabled system configurations.
  • World of Tanks may experience color corruption when changing some game settings in multi GPU enabled system configurations.

Follow this link to download AMD's new driver package.

Dota 2

We are deep into Dota 2's mature years. Valve's superlative wizard-clicker left beta almost half a decade ago, and it's been 18 months since it finally achieved parity with (and subsequently overtook) the original Defense of the Ancients mod. Last year saw it unseated from its permanent spot at the top of the Steam charts—and not just unseated but utterly routed, the vast success of PUBG relegating it to distant second place.

It's important to contextualise 'second place'. Dota 2 has lost a few hundred thousand players, but is still comfortably more popular than CS:GO and significantly more popular than the vast majority of games on Steam (and that's a lot of games). It still has more players than six of the ten most popular Steam games combined, a list that includes Rainbow 6: Siege, Grand Theft Auto V, and Warframe. If this deep, strange, ruthlessly difficult game is becoming niche, then, it's still a really big niche.

As long as Dota 2 retains enough players to be viable, a shrinking community is not necessarily a concern: after all, this game has never particularly concerned itself with growth. If it did, it'd be less weird. Other developers have found ways to make DotA's fundamentals more accessible, but Dota 2's guiding star has always been the original mod's community-grown strangeness. As custodians of that strangeness, Valve has taken steps to make Dota 2 more approachable and more contemporary in its presentation. They've made Dota 2 more coherent, if not much more accessible, and this is appropriate as the game's community settles.

If Dota 2 is about anything it's about your ability, individually and a team, to adapt to a complicated and ever-changing strategic situation.

Dota 2's new update schedule, which sees a patch deployed every other Thursday, is a small but significant change that helps build upon the best things about Valve's management of the game—and protect against the mistakes they have frequently made. By comparison to other MOBAs, Dota 2 has traditionally been updated infrequently but suddenly. Valve doesn't talk much, IceFrog less so, and as such the arrival of a game-upending patch is often a surprise:  a shock that sends analysts scrambling for their video cameras.

There's always been something exciting about the moment when a patch arrives, but the wait between them can be interminable: and with no fixed schedule, the Dota 2 community has endured long periods where very little seemed to be happening at all. This breeds discontent. If Dota 2 is about anything it's about your ability, individually and a team, to adapt to a complicated and ever-changing strategic situation. I'd argue that this is true of the game in a broader sense, too: what keeps people playing over the course of years is the challenge of developing your understanding of a sandbox that never stops moving. In the long wait between updates, however, both momentum and player enthusiasm can fade. A sort of metagame ennui sets in, with players locked into a playbook according to their skill level. Playbooks aren't Dota: setting playbooks on fire is Dota.

Valve didn't invent the concept of the fortnightly update, but if they're going to take any pages out of the League of Legends playbook I'm glad it's this one. Communication has always been a weakness of theirs: they don't employ community teams or PR agencies, and it seems unlikely that their company culture would ever allow that to change. Guaranteeing a patch every two weeks helps get around some of those issues because the most frequent question a hypothetical Dota 2 community manager would have to field would inevitably be 'when's the patch'. And Valve has always preferred to communicate via patch note: more patches is effectively more communication, albeit in their own specific mechanical way.

With a more manageable rate of change comes more manageable updates. The updates deployed in this way so far have felt, appropriately, like patches in miniature—far less extensive than the overhauls of old, but providing welcome balance adjustments that are well communicated through a new feature that highlights changes to heroes and abilities within the game itself. Dota 2 has always been at its best in the uncertain weeks following a patch, and while these latest updates have been less world-changing than the community might be used to, there's a fresh sense that the metagame is always on the edge of a change.

This is good for Dota 2, and rewards players who are good at parsing the current state of the metagame and coming up with creative ways to break it open—a narrow community, but a skill that every Dota player can aspire to learn. For everybody else, more regular changes means that there's a fixed term attached to on any given flavour-of-the-month hero pick or strategy. 

Perhaps given time the community will get used to this new rate of change and miss the days when you suddenly had to relearn whole swathes of the game: in the meantime, it's nice to be able to load Dota 2 and discover that something interesting has changed. 'Reliability' is a strange concept to apply to a game about managing chaos, but Valve is taking the right steps to make sure that this deeply weird, fascinating game reliably shows its best side. Will that help it reclaim the thousands of players lost to PUBG's wildernesses? Probably not. Is it the right approach for the hundreds of thousands that remain? Yes.

Dota 2

Nearly five years after the debut of Dota 2, lead developer IceFrog has decided that it's time to try something different. For the next six months, give or take, the huge, sweeping patches that followers are familiar with are out, and smaller, more frequent updates are in. 

It's not as though Dota 2 hasn't been updated on an ongoing basis prior to this, but those were generally small spasms of tweaks and tuning. More significant changes would appear in major updates, like the Dueling Fates update that went live last November. IceFrog didn't say what drove the decision to move to a more rapid-fire schedule, but as Dot Esports pointed out, the shift could have a real impact on the Dota 2 pro scene: Teams will have to adjust to changes far more frequently than they did under the old system, possibly including—unless Valve makes allowances for interruptions in the schedule—in the midst of tournaments.

It's possible that the whole thing will prove to be a bust, and that the old system held up for as long as it did precisely because it worked well and helped drive the excitement that's kept fans invested in Dota 2. Nobody likes to wait, but having a Big Thing to look forward to is arguably more engaging than routine bi-weekly maintenance.

IceFrog also said that, to help players keep up with the faster-paced schedule, a new feature will be added to the game to notify players of hero changes. As for which Thursday will see this new schedule get underway, has not yet been announced.

Dota 2

ESL has announced a deal with Facebook that will make the social media site its "main broadcast partner" for CS:GO Pro League and ESL One events. The move will enable ESL to offer esports fans "a much more advanced viewing experience which also connects to the existing Facebook pages of teams, players and talents." 

One of the driving forces behind the decision to partner with Facebook is Facebook Watch, a video-on-demand service announced last year that supports 1080p/60fps and VR streaming. Facebook's "viewing with friends" function, which enables private chats with Facebook friends who are also watching the broadcasts, and Messenger service will also encourage a more "collaborative experience," as ESL described it, when watching streams. 

"For years ESL has used Facebook to nurture its global community while broadening the audience for esports competition to millions of fans worldwide," Facebook Games Partnerships global director Leo Olebe said. "Having two of ESL’s most adored properties for CS:GO and Dota 2 streaming exclusively on Facebook is the next step in our efforts to delight the passionate esports community on Facebook." 

The move to Facebook might seem like an odd one to esports fans used to getting their fix on Twitch, and replies to the announcement on Twitter make it clear that fans aren't universally thrilled with the new primary platform. But ESL expects that it will actually help expand its viewership and bring esports further into the mainstream. "We’re excited to now be at a stage where we can take the next step towards realizing our shared ambition to grow the overall esports audience and to bring our sports to an even broader group of viewers than ever before," the company said. 

The cost of the deal wasn't announced, but I'm willing to venture that it was probably steep. SportsBusiness Daily reported last week that Twitch paid $90 million for a two-year streaming deal with the Overwatch League. 

ESL streaming on Facebook will begin with Dota 2 at ESL One Genting, running January 23-28, and CS: Pro League Season 7 on February 13. If you can't watch on Facebook, or for some reason just don't want to, embedded streams will still be viewable on the ESL website. 

Dota 2

Following recent changes to Filipino government regulations, Valve has pulled its support of the proposed Galaxy Battles 2018 Dota 2 Major. Set to run between January 15—21 in Ciudad de Victoria's Philippine Arena, Valve has rescinded its Major designation but is now working to run a similar tournament with the invited and qualifying teams.  

"Based on information we’ve recently confirmed regarding new government regulations for esports players entering the Philippines, we have decided to rescind the tournament’s Major designation, including the Pro Circuit qualifying points, for the Galaxy Battles 2018 tournament," reads this post on the Dota 2 blog. "This is based on what we feel are unreasonable infringements on the privacy of the players, as a condition to enter the country. The tournament itself may still proceed, but without any involvement of Valve or the Dota Pro Circuit."

Valve underscores its decision does not reflect how it feels about the Philippines itself, and apologises to anyone who'd planned to attend. 

According to the information listed by the Republic of Philippines' Games and Amusement Board, professionally recognised athletes hoping to perform in the Philippines must ascertain these credentials. A number of Reddit users in turn speculate Valve's decision to pull support reflects the country's ongoing drug problems

Speaking to the event, the Dota 2 blog post adds: "As a result, we’re talking to tournament organizers to try to find a way to run a Major with the invited and qualifying teams, including the Pro Circuit points that would have been available in Galaxy Battles 2018."

...

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