Is Dota Plus pay to win? Every paid Dota 2 feature explained cover image

Is Dota Plus pay to win? Every paid Dota 2 feature explained

Camp stack timings are only the start.

Dota Plus is Valve’s subscription-based monetization system for Dota 2, but the company may have gone overboard on the pay-to-win aspects of the program. For $3.99 a month, players can get draft suggestions, see detailed stack timings, purchase exclusive cosmetics, and more. 

It's easy to see that Dota Plus users have an advantage over their free-to-play counterparts, but is it really enough to be considered unfair?

All the pay-to-win features in Dota Plus explained

Dota Plus’ flashiest feature is its exclusive cosmetic shop, which lets paying users exchange Dota Plus Shards for sets. These range from old fan favorites to flashy exclusives, with certain sets for Monkey King and Timbersaw being particularly popular. The cosmetic store also includes killstreak effects, gem tools, and hero relics that track certain stats on every hero.

That’s all fine, but the in-game features are where things get a little messy. Dota Plus users get an in-game overlay on every jungle camp showing the exact timings for stacking and pulling. These are important numbers to know, and a monthly fee lets players skip the trial-and-error learning process. Furthermore, Dota Plus displays your current net worth in-game while comparing it to your hero’s average.

The biggest pay-to-win advantage in Dota Plus is the draft assistant, which automatically recommends heroes based on their win rates in your bracket. It even takes the enemy team’s draft into account. Furthermore, it shows the win rate of your chosen hero paired with every other hero on both teams.

Dota Plus draft assistant has evolved since launch (Image via Valve)
Dota Plus draft assistant has evolved since launch (Image via Valve)

All of these mechanics give a distinct advantage, but it's not quite enough to call it pay to win. Most of the in-game information is technically available to free players, and experienced players should already know stack and pull timings by heart. The draft assistant is the biggest advantage, though it rarely makes the difference.

So, is Dota Plus pay to win? Yes, it is, but considering that it makes Valve money, don’t expect any protest to make a difference. In fact, Dota 2’s developers are working hard to secure their monopoly.

What’s the difference between Dota Plus and Overwolf DotaPlus?

In addition to Valve’s own premium service, gaming overlay Overwolf also has a Dota 2 “enhancement” program that's titled DotaPlus. Despite sharing the same name, Overwold’s DotaPlus serves a different purpose as an in-game draft assistant.

Valve clearly approves of all the features in the official Dota Plus, but Overwolf’s version provides services that are borderline cheating. During the draft, it scans accounts on the enemy team to suggest bans based on their recent match history. In addition, it can identify players who are spamming a particular hero in matchmaking so you can ban it.

Overwolf's draft assistant is much more personal (Image via Overwolf)
Overwolf's draft assistant is much more personal (Image via Overwolf)

The developers of Dota 2 have explicitly stated that tools like this are effectively cheating. The company previously gutted Stratz+, a similar draft assist. The company later provided an official statement claiming that any program that can read game data would be treated as cheating. You’re unlikely to get banned for using Overwolf DotaPlus, but it's only a matter of time before Valve finds a way to disrupt it.

Stay tuned to for the latest updates on all things Dota 2.