Is Dota 2’s Paid ‘Avoid Player’ Option Good Or Bad?

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DotA 2's The International 2019 Battle Pass includes a paid "avoid player" feature.
DotA 2's The International 2019 Battle Pass includes a paid "avoid player" feature. DotA 2/Facebook

Valve recently introduced The International 2019 Battle Pass for Dota 2. Like its predecessors, this one comes with a deluge of bonuses designed to entice gamers. However, there is one that caught the attention of many – the paid “avoid player” option.

This year’s Battle Pass offers a bunch of cosmetics and a special mode. It will also unlock an in-game assistant that helps owners earn an advantage over those who did not buy the BP (priced at $10). A key feature the pass seems to be paywalling is the ability to avoid players.

Apparently, this “experimental” feature is Valve’s answer to fighting in-game toxicity. Mind you, Dota 2 is not a new game – it has been played for six years, and Valve has yet to introduce an option that actually avoids players who love to ruin a game. From throwing games to using racial comments or slurs, the video game developer has not bothered to solve any of these issues until now.

In the current gaming landscape, the majority of video game developers seem to be less than concerned about how players behave in their games. Sure, you can hear them talk about finding ways to resolve these issues, but the way they handle them is always superficial.

You want proof? Let’s start with Battlefield V. Many players, right from the get-go, experienced massive amounts of slurs and racial comments. And this happened on a daily basis. What's more, EA claimed that these have been fixed through its “clever” moderation AI. If this AI is supposed to work as intended, then how come it could not block some of the most offensive words in the English language?

Valve is pretty much in the same boat. While the “avoid player” option is, according to them, designed to battle in-game toxicity, it seems to be counterintuitive. Why should you have to pay just so you can avoid a player who continuously ruins a game?

It is safe to say that Blizzard Entertainment’s work with Overwatch is a cautionary tale for Valve. While claiming to have removed 40% of bad behavior across its team-based first-person shooter game, the studio could not explain how these unacceptable activities started in the first place. That is why they decided to remove the game’s “avoid player” option just a couple of months after launch.

The “avoid player” option in Dota 2 is definitely a waste. Not only did Valve release it after six years of experimentation, but they also made it limited only to players who can afford it. Perhaps it is time for game developers to take this matter seriously. And instead of trying to fix these toxistity issues from a business perspective, they should do so from a player’s point of view.

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