Avoiding players should be something we’re all entitled to. But Valve is still treating it like a premium feature only available to Dota Plus subscribers.
Valve introduced the avoid player feature in Dota 2 back in 2019 as a part of the TI9 Battle Pass. It wasn’t perfect. But that can be forgiven since it was experimental. And for the most part, it was a success. The player base welcomed it with open arms, and it’s probably because toxicity has always been an issue in Dota 2.
In my opinion, our beloved game has some of the most toxic players in the world. That’s not a slight on the community, which is one of the most passionate and dedicated ones out there. I believe it’s a by-product of the game itself.
Dota 2 is challenging at the best of times and soul-crushing at the worst of times. That can bring out the worst in people, especially when they are shrouded in anonymity.
New players need to learn the game while being scolded. But a bit of constructive criticism is a good thing, and it can go a long way. You will inevitably make mistakes and people will call you out on them. It’s a part of learning the ropes and growing as a player.
However, there’s a difference between constructive criticism and needless toxicity. And the latter happens quite often, even at higher ranks. It gets worse the higher you climb because the stakes are higher and people’s egos are bigger and more fragile.
Think about it. You’re pitted with four allies, each with their strengths, weaknesses, quirks and skill levels, for anywhere between twenty minutes and an hour, sometimes more. Winning the game requires so much teamwork and coordination, all the way from the laning phase to the late game. And even then, there’s no guarantee.
A single misplay or miscommunication is often enough to lose the game. Sometimes it’s you who makes the blunder, other times it’s someone else. And of course, there are times where you lose because the opposition team was better. That’s the reality of climbing the ranks in a MOBA. It’s a long and harrowing journey. And it can be frustrating as hell.
Players get tilted out of their minds. The best of them direct their frustration towards teammates, which can lead to a tirade of abuse. The worst of them might decide to grief the game by feeding or deleting items.
That’s why avoiding players is necessary. Sometimes a mute or a report isn’t enough. Nobody wants to be stuck with the same toxic teammate time and time again. It’s a recipe for disaster. Unfortunately, the avoid player feature was no longer available once the Battle Pass expired.
Valve re-introduced it in the Dota Plus Autumn Update. But with one small catch: it was now a premium feature. You needed a Dota Plus subscription to be able to avoid a teammate. This decision left a bad taste in the mouths of the Dota 2 community, and rightfully so.
Overwatch players had already been able to avoid teammates for more than a year. And they were able to do it for free. So why the hell should Dota 2 players need to pay to do the same? It was unfair and didn’t make sense. But almost a year has passed, and nothing has changed.
Now, with a new season and the next battle pass expected to drop sometime soon, players are again raising concerns about the avoid player feature. The consensus is that it should be free and not a premium feature since it is integral to having the best Dota 2 experience.
It’s different from other issues like content exclusivity because, for the most part, everyone agrees. Valve has always prided itself on the fact that Dota 2 is free-to-play and not pay-to-win. And while that’s still true, it’s become one step closer to becoming pay-to-have-the-best-experience, and that’s not cool.
The avoid player list also needs to be improved and expanded. At the moment, players can only add up to sixteen players at a time, which some feel isn’t enough. And it’s not like increasing the limit is going to hurt anyone. There have also been numerous threads calling for improvements such as better list management, which makes a lot of sense.
The bottom line: Valve needs to make avoiding players free for everyone
No matter how you look at it, avoiding players is something that should be available to everyone. It’s disgraceful that Valve is still treating it like a premium feature, especially after all the backlash they’ve received. But they have responded to community feedback quite well in the past. So there’s hope that they will do so again, and it might happen soon.
Until then, we don’t have a choice. We’ll either need to pay to avoid toxic players or ignore them. And who knows, maybe we’ll even become one ourselves. After all, if you play long enough without being able to avoid toxic teammates unless you pay, you might see yourself become the villain. And if that happens, I’ll blame Valve.
Alex is a freelance writer based in Adelaide, Australia. He finished a law degree but realised it wasn't the career for him and decided to follow his dream of becoming a writer. Since then, he has finished two postgraduate writing degrees at Swinburne University of Technology. Now he writes about his other passion; esports and gaming.