Did a single complaint ruin the Dota 2 Arcade for everyone? And what can save it from Valve? SUNSfan and Jenkins might have the answer.

The Dota 2 community is the only hope for the future of the Dota 2 Arcade — that’s the conclusion Andrew "Jenkins" Jenkins and Shannon "SUNSfan" Scotten came to during a dramatic video explaining the current Dota 2 Arcade situation.

In the video, the pair, co-creators and project leads of the Ability Arena custom game, broke down the timeline and reasoning behind the current situation, which has seen almost all custom games in the Dota 2 Arcade receive notice from Valve to cease monetizing their games.

The video revealed a number of fascinating details about Ability Arena and the development of custom games. Here’s just a few takeaways:

  • The paid Gods in Ability Arena had terrible win-rates, quashing pay-to-win allegations.
  • There are only three western developers (not working for Valve) that understand how particles work in Dota 2, making development of custom games incredibly difficult.
  • SUNSfan and Jenkins spent around $250,000 starting the project, and they've made $200,000. They've lost around $50,000 between them on Ability Arena
  • The pair were initially happy to find the Valve legal team was getting involved, as they thought it might help them fix things.
  • All of this may have been caused by one guy who got mad about not having access to the Ability Arena Immortal Discord channel, and hit Valve and Ability Arena with a GDPR claim.

Did one tantrum cause this?

(Image via Ability Arena)
(Image via Ability Arena)

In a shocking revelation, SUNSfan revealed that the series of events that led to Valve taking this action with the Dota 2 Arcade was allegedly started by a single Ability Arena player. According to SUNSfan, that player was denied access to a special Immortals Discord channel due to filling out a form incorrectly, and subsequently engaged in harassing behavior against a Discord volunteer and was banned. 

In retaliation, the player allegedly sent a General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) complaint. The GDPR is a piece of European legislation that aims to protect online privacy. Complaints and violations of GDPR can lead to legal action and fines amounting to tens of thousands of dollars. This action, in effect, awoke the sleeping giant that is Valve’s legal team, which subsequently began to look closer at the Dota 2 Arcade, leading to the current situation.

This account is disputed by someone claiming to be that player on the Dota 2 Reddit. In that post, they claim that the volunteer they allegedly harassed was in fact Nikki “Sajedene” Elise, on-air talent, entrepreneur, and SUNSfan’s spouse. This perhaps adds an extra element to the banning, although the general consensus on the post was that the player had thrown a tantrum and used the nuclear option of a GDPR complaint.

How to save the Dota 2 Arcade

(Image via Ability Arena)
(Image via Ability Arena)

So how does this get fixed? SUNSfan and Jenkins outlined the only way to save the Dota 2 Arcade is the community making themselves heard: “So the only thing that could fix it is the [Dota 2] community. That’s the only time that Valve has done a complete 180 on a decision.” 

As an example, SUNSfan gave the Dota 2 Tutorial: “Slacks came out with a Kickstarter, then within a week Valve announces a tutorial. That’s a 180 situation.”

It’s a dire situation for custom games, and although the Dota 2 community is a vocal and often passionate one, they’re hard to motivate for a single cause. And that doesn't bode well for the Dota 2 Arcade, and in some ways, for Valve.

As stated in the video, almost all of Valve’s own games originated with mods. Other developers, such as Epic Games with Fortnite, have recently streamlined the way creators can monetize in-game creations. Our own interviews with modding platform executives, there’s a consensus that the developers can’t keep up with player demand for content, and modding support is the only way to sustain that. Valve is bucking a trend while the rest of the industry adapts to it.

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