Valve has confirmed they are working on a Dota Auto Chess game, but this upcoming title will surprisingly not be a continuation of the existing mod. In fact, Valve is developing their own version of the game with “support” from the mod’s creators.
“In February we flew the Drodo team over from China to chat about the future of Dota Auto Chess, and to see if they’d want to collaborate directly with us,” writes the Dota team on their blog. “We had great conversations, but we both came to the conclusion that Valve and Drodo could not work directly with each other for a variety of reasons. We ended up agreeing that we’ll each build our own stand-alone version of the game, and support each other to the fullest.”
This arrangement is…odd. If we had to guess, the Auto Chess mod team didn’t want to work with Valve directly on turning their mod into a standalone, and official, experience. At the same time, they may have found it difficult to tell the Dota 2 team that they can’t use the game they created to make their own version of this idea. It’s still not clear how these two games will differ.
In case you didn’t know, Auto Chess is a free mod for Dota 2 (which, conveniently enough, is also free) that converts the Dota 2 experience into a slightly slower (but no less deep or frantic) strategy experience. The mod’s gameplay is actually quite hard to easily summarize, but it essentially removes Dota 2‘s actions per minute (APM) based gameplay and converts it into a game that combines elements of chess, deck building, and Dota 2. The general idea is to use various resources to outmaneuver your opponents across a chess-like map. Doing so requires you to master several strategies.
It’s an odd game, but it’s also an incredibly popular one. The arrival of Auto Chess has helped Dota 2 skyrocket up the list of most-watched Twitch games. It’s certainly popular in the Dota 2 community, but what’s really impressive is how the game has captured the attention of top pros in other competitive gaming scenes (especially Hearthstone where Auto Chess is sometimes seen as a deeper take on the CCG concept).
This would hardly be the first time that Valve has at least tried to turn a fan mod into an incredibly successful official title. Counter-Strike, Dota, and Team Fortress all began their lives as mods for other titles. Given that Dota Auto Chess is growing at an incredible rate, it certainly makes sense for them to officially support the mod as Auto Chess enters what may very well prove to be its popularity prime.
All the same, it would have been a little awkward for Valve to acquire Auto Chess at this time considering that Artifact, a Dota-inspired CCG, released late last year and has reportedly been a massive failure so far. The game has lost the vast majority of its player base and has the unfortunate designation of being a premium title burdened with microtransactions.
Matthew Byrd is a staff writer for Den of Geek. He spends most of his days trying to pitch deep-dive analytical pieces about Killer Klowns From Outer Space to an increasingly perturbed series of editors. You can read more of his work here or find him on Twitter at @SilverTuna014.