1 year, 40 Million: Dota Builds Project Overview

Back in 2012, I started writing this site with the interest of covering topics that I always felt were under-represented. My latest passion project, the Hero Builds project, started back in late February of 2013, were about collecting an agreed version of standard play for each Dota 2 hero. As opposed to this opinionated site, I was coming from a place without confidence in my opinions and with much to learn. In many ways, I’ve grasped more than just playing better and also much faster than if I had just kept this project to myself. I am much farther in grasping the ability to not only discern how heroes are to be played but also just how flexible their roles and item/skill builds can be. This is what makes this project continuous, endless and, for the most part, an enjoyment for me to pursue.

This topic will be an overview about this project; the motivation, smaller nuances and statistical achievement. As stated, it’s been about a year and a half since I started this ambitious idea but it’s also been a full year (since October 30th 2013) that I’ve collected statistical data for each and every created guide and its growth. We’ll examine how much we’ve grown, how it still grows and the varying issues from the enlarging time-consumption to the dying competition.

Dota 2 Hero Build Inclient
For those new to some of Valve’s Dota 2 features, back in February of 2013, Valve announced a feature called Hero Builds: guides that can be accessed directly in-game and during a match, you are suggested what items to buy and what skills to level. For each selected hero, you were given explanatory prompts that made learning a hero or the game incredibly easy, accessible directly during matches without pausing or needing another window open. Overall, it was a part of Valve’s approach towards approaching Dota 2 easier alongside their other features, such as coaching and their tutorial.

Today we celebrate reaching over 40 million subscriptions across 140 guides (44,774,270 as of November 15th, 2014) and a full year of statistics to inspect and analyze.

From 3 million to 40 million – A year of Statistics


A few things to note:
1. A user cannot subscribe to more than one guide per hero. There are a total of 108 heroes released, thus a total of 108 guides can be subscribed per user.

 

2. The subscribers per guide are unique, but users can subscribed to several guides, creating overlap in total subscriptions.

 

3. Users subscribed are still using that guide in-game with all its prompts and suggestions which is different from a subscription to a youtube channel.

 

4. Data is readily available for those willing to cooperate in retrieving further relevant statistics (please contact me privately)

The short answer to all this is, we’re consistently growing. As Dota 2’s popularity expands, so does the project’s impact. Originally starting at 3 million, after only 8 months since our start (106 total guides), we’ve managed to attain 40 million subscriptions and multiply our average subscription numbers from 30,000 per guide to about 300,000 per guide (106 guides to 140+ total).

Total Subscriptions Growth

The blue indicates the total subscription numbers of that month while the orange indicates the difference in totals between the month prior and the current month it sits on top. To simplify, The orange is how much more from the previous month’s total to today’s total are new subscribers (which is 1.7 to 2 million every 15 days)

Without including any new guides to be created, we’re expecting 115 million (1,064,815 minimum unique) total subscriptions in the coming years (12 months to 18 months), presumably more as new heroes are released and new patches open up new ways to play old heroes.

Typically, the highest growth comes from weeks just after a new patch releases (1.55 to 2.04 million) and soon after The International 4 concluded (2.248 million subscription jump). This is typically due to both the influx of new users after a major event (The International) and how patches either remake some heroes, rendering previous outdated guides even more blatantly outdated or promotes our own guides through their consistency in updates and title indication (all guides in this project are titled with the current patch it is updated on).

Subscription Growth

In terms of the project’s impact, we typically are within the top 3 to 5 with an average of 300,000 subscriptions per guide. So although we have high subscription number for all guides, we are not leading in as many guides as we’d like, just consistently popular overall. We estimate a minimum of 12% of the total Dota 2 player base are subscribed to our guides (~1.12 million out of 9.7 million) to up to 20%/optimistically 34%). The data set below is our attempt at grabbing the majority population of subscribed users per hero and then seeing what our take is (~21%) and then projecting it onto 108 guides (maximum number per user).

[Estimated Population Percentage]

Not 100% accurate as per the issues stated prior to this section. This is a ballpark estimation with 12% being the minimum unique subscribers.

The current issues with the guides’ scene is both the decline in competition of other guide creators as well as the disparity between total subscriptions and lack of ratings. We found that on average, only 30% of the total subscribers actually bother rating the guide they’re using which is quite low. This is a significant issue for newly-released guides as those who remain on top, despite not being updated since 2013, continue to collect a small portion of ratings and newer guides are not rotated in for exposure and ratings. At the moment, 16 guides out of 140 of this project still lack enough ratings to be included in-game.

Ratings vs Subscribers

Another issue is the decline of other guide makers, offering little variance or consistent quality work across all heroes. Against the current top 4 guide creators in the world, only two are currently active: myself at 42.3 million (now 44.7 million/140 guides) and greyshark at 13.7 million and 102 guides. Both Purge and eXplosion maintain high ratings, but no longer actively update their guides or create new ones (and GreyShark rarely updates his guides, making nearly the majority of them outdated).

Comparison Against Other Guide Makers Motivation


I’d be lying if I said I was doing this solely for the good of the community. In many ways, the silent dependency of current subscribers, the pages and pages of appreciative comments and the dying scene of in-game Hero Build creators motivates me to keep going. It’s an inflated view, but nonetheless I thrive on this feeling to persist. I like to joke and sternl state that I do use this entire project to also improve myself as it gives me a utilitarian reason to poke my better friends into giving me tips and advice without them thinking less of me (though I’m not sure if that’s any more possible!).

My initial motivation when creating guides was my frustration with the random players I get matched with (we all like to judge others) and you’ll find that common frustrated motivation in many passionate people today. In turn, I also removed any frustration on myself and the project has pushed me into getting more involved in the competitive scene, the strategies and evolving metagame as well as watching many, many public matches from some of the highest rated players around the world. Even when I’m the least interested in Dota 2, either due to a losing streak, straying curiosity of other competitive genres, I stay in touch through these guides, with the scene and with the community. So as long as there is a dependency and interest in my work, I will stay involved.

Challenges


The most challenging part of this project is two-fold: 1. Keeping up with the changes both in-game (balance-wise) as well as the metagame and 2. Maintaining the direction of the project; being restrictive in what items to include and not include (as you know, in Dota 2, there are so many situations for each individual hero that calls for specific items) and continuing to serve an audience that expands rapidly (roughly 2 million new subscriptions every 15 days).

1. Keeping Up – Guides can be as grueling as a typical desk job or as time-consuming as summer school.

This project has its ups and down, at the moment, with how the current patch is; there is constant task of keeping up with builds, emerging popular items and the coming of new heroes (Oracle should be released momentarily, two new guides to rapidly draft, publish and improve). A key thing to note about newly-released heroes is that the first guides to be released and receive a sufficient amount of ratings will also be the ones to establish the most subscribers and, subsequently, keep those subscribers no matter how wrong or misrepresenting they can be (from this contributor’s perspective).

A little more challenging and time-consuming are pre- and post-patch releases which can take up to 22 hours of elapsed work time in a very short period of days (3 days typically). As an example, the most recent 6.80 patch required an initial 20-hour work schedule across three days and then an additional 4 hours to not only receive and judge newcoming feedback, but to also follow gameplay changes via Dotabuff, professional matches, cross-matching with the top 10 public players per hero (thanks Dotabuff.com) as well as downloading the replays, watching live matches and talking to some friends who are at a higher skill level than myself to get their opinion. This doesn’t include the amount of time it takes to also create new guides for emerging new ways to play a specific hero that was previously not possible or remotely viable.

Data Sheet

For patch 6.80, we only had to apply 370 changes and create 8 new guides. For a complete overhaul, which is an inspection of all hero guides, general descriptions, item descriptions and builds in correlation to the highest competition that’s taking place, The International, it can take several days to complete and over 2,500 rewrites, changes and note-taking.

In short, keeping up with the guides is a continuous affair that has its ups and downs, sometimes it can take up all of my time equal to a full-time job and at others, between those blips of updates, new heroes and a transitioning meta: it slows a lot down; consuming perhaps 4 hours a day reading feedback, watching matches/checking Dotabuff, and testing the builds myself in-game.

2. Key Framing – knowing your audience and trusting their prior knowledge is key to making accurate and to-the-point instructional builds.

Setting up how you want your guides to be perceived, how much and in what ways you trust your subscribed player base is key to achieving guides that are very fixed in expectations, but flexible in their range of information and abilities. Here’s a basic list of things I keep in mind both in detail to each guide and specific hero as well as overlying points about the audience accumulated audience.

+  Trust your audience and assume the appreciation of player’s choice:

We offer the idea of “Dual-Core” builds. Two core ways to play a hero that are different in approach and/or role (example: late-game carry Tiny and ganking Tiny). One may be the more standard and expected way to play but we don’t dismiss other also viable ways to play, especially if your allied team needs that role specifically.

+ Restricting the amount of information in a guide:

To keep things simple, I restrict the number of items per section of a guide (situational, extension, etc.), we also categorize them by price and typically priority and/or frequency of that situation arising that calls for an item.

+ Adding additional information that sets yourself apart from others:  

Most subscriptions come from in-game, so they cannot see when a guide was last updated or other guides I have made, so we provide that information as a separate tab in the Suggested Items prompt in-game for users to be aware and interested.

+ Incorporating popularity within your target’s range of play while also leading them into better suggestions:

Another balancing act is both incorporating what’s currently popular for public players while also leading them into the right suggestions. For the image below, you can see Bane does not have the most typical items usually found in public games:  Aghanim’s Scepter and Soul Ring. They are among the top items bought in the game according to Dotabuff. We instead opted for Urn of Shadows because at higher levels, it is generally much better for how Bane is played overall (through all phases of a match) than the advantages of, say, Soul Ring, early-game.

Tiny and Bane

The image above shows Tiny’s item build split into two core roles to play the hero and Bane’s guiding direction in avoiding two commonly bought items in public matches.

Why does your title include which lane/area the hero to go rather than its role?

The initial reason was because I felt that was more relevant and useful for newcomers than stating how the hero should be played and the other is for the sake of conciseness. If I were to include a guide for every single role a hero could be played or is played by standard, I’d have about 200 guides rather than the current 140-150. With how time-consuming it is becoming to update guides, especially with each new patch, I would not be able to do it with the consistency and pace I can now.

As our audience expands, so becomes the flexibility and range of expectancies. What I set today as the standard and goal of these guides is not necessarily what it may be a year from now.

[No] Support


The overall gain from this work mostly stems from pride and self-fulfillment from having a historical dedication to a project for a long-time. I get a lot of satisfaction in being a part of something and consistently striving to keep its quality up to a high standard. There is no monetary gain and usually it isn’t talked about when I place it on my CV but nonetheless, it is simply an enjoyment for me, even during those times of chaos and time-crunched moments.

I’ve been asked on occasion about my interest to funding the continuation of this project through Patreon or Kickstarter or to simply allow donations. Unfortunately, it’s not something I am comfortable with doing. Despite how time-consuming and draining this is, it does not consume the entirety of my week. It’s still something I can do on the side while working full-time and I am very much qualified both in gaming and in eSports. When the project becomes too overwhelming on a daily or weekly basis, I may seek assistance (not necessarily financial), but at this present time, we’re doing al’right and the service continues to help new players get comfortable with Dota 2. Valve’s Hero Builds system is free and available for anyone to use to either create their own guides or to take my format and modify it to their own interests. Since the system is free and I’m more than happy doing it for free, I don’t feel relying on Patreon or Kickstarter fits into my moral compass nor current line of motivation.

To add, a lot of recurring community members and friends give a lot of their time to talk with me and give input/feedback and even explain some misconceptions I have. For me to take financial advantage of the situation would be to discredit their involvement and to place my own above all. It’s not something that’s fair when it’s not only knowledge/experience going into the guides, just the legwork (and obsession haha). Simply put, in the future, it something we may have to consider if it consumes all of my free time consistently but for now, you can support me by either rating the guides, providing feedback or spreading awareness to your friends you want to convert to Dota 2!

Lastly, however, if I could pitch ideas to Valve Software and collaborate during my free time to improving their newcomer systems to both Dota 2 (improving the guide system, workshop, new tutorials, etc.) and Counter-Strike: Global Offensive (I have a few ideas too as someone who’s at Silver Elite), that would be a real honor and something I am passionate about.

On a side-note, if you’re interested in my other pieces of writing or in myself, you can follow me on Twitter (@TorteDeLini), read my other articles and give feedback (ArmchairAthleticism.com)! Otherwise, continuously providing feedback and rating my guides (whether in approval or disapproval) is very much appreciated.

Thank Yous


In short, thank you to those who trust me and even skeptics who constructively told me I’m improving (but still suck)! Information regarding changes made and the subsequent discussion following can be found on LiquidDota.com

Lastly, there have been a variety of users who have been supportive of this project and consistently provide insight, good or bad, that helped shaped these guides.

TheYango, Doomblaze, Sn0_Man, maru~, a slow decay, ChrisXIV, Synapse, Chaosquo, Comeh, Firebolt145, Whole, Pokebunny, Cecek, idonthinksobro, Tobberoth, LonelyCat, Coil1, LuckoftheIrish, Laserist, SpiritoftheTunA, Alurr, BluemoonSC, tehh4ck3r, Buckyman, Belisarius, SKC, CosmicSpiral, Laserist, Evilfatsh1t, Nevuk

Community Engagement: Identify Yourself

It is without question that interacting with your targeted community and audience yields results, sometimes immeasurable ones. It is often an area overlooked, though acknowledged when we get around to actually discussing about community management and, down to the point, engagement. When I talk to game development companies and content-creators, the discussion about the community always revolves around how to earn a community and, ultimately, keep them dedicated to your brand. For many people and companies, their community interaction and consistency in that interaction has not only contributed to their fast-growing success, but also the reason their brand stands so strongly as a representative of the culture they’re servicing.  People like Sean ‘Day 9’ Plott and companies like Twitch TV have secured a brand name ahead of their competitors because they took the right steps in becoming proud representations of the gaming sphere and being proactive in shaping their followings into marketable parts of their business/self.

From starting your own community to building it and growing it, it takes a consistent amount of time, energy and dedication to keep them both satisfied and proactive in your product and you as a person. Courtesy of The Community Roundtable, this display helps frame the demand and stages into establishing a community and, on point, maintaining it.

Whether it is eSports or general gaming, a genuine and consistent person of identity will always strive further than someone who takes advantage of their intended audience without giving something back.

Get Started, Keep Rolling

Getting away from your campsite of advertising such as your Facebook page or Twitter and using community websites to maximize your reach is great, but you must always give what you take and what you’re giving also improves what you want to reach: an audience. As with any conversation, you must talk as much as listen. In Philip Driver’s piece: The Beginner’s Guide to Community Management, he quotes a community as “a feeling that members have of belonging, a feeling that members matter to one another and to the group, and a shared faith that members’ needs will be met through their commitment to be together”. As you become a member, so will your influence and ability to share a faith that interconnects one another.

Becoming involved and a part of a community, especially in the gaming culture, can be a delicate affair. Skepticism is a strong currency and the ability to dismiss you or your brand can be swift and sometimes permanent. The gaming community, even more so in eSports, can build entire careers or completely ruin them. In 2012, I had written about the Thin Corridors of New Content in which I highlight the difficulty of new content-creators jumping in as older, more established names struggle with maintaining their consistency and appearances. It was an immature outlook as we see the examples I highlight are some of the more prolific content-creators of this year (ChanmanV Productions for example), perhaps the techniques mentioned then are still relevant today. Nonetheless, it underlines the hurdle of community skepticism for new brands and emphasizes the advantages when incorporating trusted members into your team/product. ESports production companies and even services such as Twitch TV have used that advantage to bring awareness to their products as well as to acknowledge the community’s favoritism towards dedicated supporters of their favourite games/products (e.g. commentators).

Conventions, LANs and Competitions are the monument of a productive community. This image of DreamHack shows what the largest LAN event can become in few years time, leading to now one of the largest and most successful eSports event circuits internationally. Communities are most than just a group of dedicated clientele, but a workshop base to draw useful feedback, tools and ability derived from their passion for your product or service. Is that not the foundation of Twitch TV’s service or Valve Software’s workshop platform?

Maintaining that faith dismisses gamers’ initial skepticism and hence why the importance of consistency being mentioned so largely among some of the most popular entertainers in the industry: consistency in interaction and contribution beyond creating content you gain a direct advantage from.

Giving what you’re taking – The Community Expectation

A bit of overlap to our previous sub-topic, however the community expectation is set not only by community members themselves but also from community websites such as TeamLiquid.net and Reddit.com. Recent controversy pertaining to bans of community members on relevant gaming subreddits emphasizes this very section. For sites such as TeamLiquid, the rule involving self-promotion and advertising is typically a grey-area in that the way to go about posting your content is not a drop-off, but an engaged and effortful attempt at not only providing something of interest to the community but also maintaining that interest through interaction and your own personhood. Their example is a great down-to-earth explanation of what I mean:

 

“If I have a party and invite all my friends, and there’s a guy who gets along with everyone, shares some drinks and jokes and then says “hey we should do X tomorrow” that is great – everyone loves that – I love that. I’ll put that stuff on the front page. If the same guy bursts into your party and screams “HEY GUYS, AMAZZZZING PARTY AT MY PLACE YOU SHOULD CHECK OUT!!!” every time he shows up, then I would probably punch that guy straight in the face. It’s distasteful, and disrespectful.”

TeamLiquid.net

Reddit.com is similar but highlight the ratio typically expected: 9:1 ratio which is taken more exactly than intended as it means to be interpreted as you should be putting more in than what you want to take out.

It’s important to realize that being self-involved with the community you want to reach out with your content/product is more than just creating things for that community to consume and reading their discussions. Without a constant presence of genuine interaction, interest and conversation, even as you hit massive success, the faith in your brand and reputation surely declines.

 

Commentators – Identities of Production

For most companies, eSports is a mix of marketing and community engagement. For many games, without eSports, awareness of a product could not be as reaching and impactful to the gaming scenes without the involvement of an eSports community. Competitive sequels, brand strength and longevity of a game still hinges on the competitive aspect and, subsequently, the spectated tournaments. On that same vine, without eSports, careers of many iconic people from each game would not be where they are today. It is that mutual dependency and respect of expertise that have landed careers for many commentators and established strong relationships between companies such as ESL, Major League Gaming and even Riot Games and the communities they serve. Companies with a brand, know to remain consistent in the quality of their talent and consistency of fan-favourite talents.

 

 Your caster line-up is your face and proof that not only does your event know your audience but is constantly in touch with those who’ve established an earned trust with the audience and up-and-coming entertainers who you can promote and be unique compared to other events. ESL is known for their top-notch talent line-up and spares no expense to keep old favourites and introduce new faces.

For a company, identity is important, iconic members that communities can relate and communicate with. In many ways, commentators serve that role while also liaising information that could change events and the content their consumers want to experience. Constant reception and an ability to consistently make their targeted audience productive in their feedback or more, is sign of good management from these production companies as well as an accomplished and constructive community. By hiring key members of the community for public roles, a company displays awareness of favourable people with their targeted audience using them to not only maintain a connection with the  community, but also to bolster their brand and display a sign of dedication to the game the community attaches itself to.

When Major League Gaming hired Nick ‘Axslav’ Ranish and Alex ‘Axeltoss’ Rodriguez, it cemented their intention to stick with StarCraft II despite opting away from creating events around the product. They secured an inherited community in case they were ever going to go back to producing massive events for the game. The same thing with ESL in which they keep a strong list of employed commentators to serve as experts for their respective genres as they attract game development companies to host their games’ events (e.g. Halo, Battlefield, Titanfall) and as talent to commentate those games. The key ability to create and maintain strong identities for the communities to relate to is a process that can be massively successful or a misfire. This is especially underlined for service companies such as ESL, MLG or even Twitch TV.

Twitch TV Ahead – Competitors Behind

The concept of identity is no different for Twitch TV and in fact played a vital role in their incredible growth after only three years. I would go on to say that other livestreaming companies have failed to see how Twitch TV progressed with their identity while trying to imitate what they are doing now.

For Twitch TV, growing from eSports and expanding to the gaming market is a strategy of playing to the advantages of smaller subcultures to establish reputation to eventually step into the mainstream culture of gaming. Before any other livestreaming site had started. Twitch TV established themselves as a contributor to teams and events (giving what you’re taking) and hiring key members of the games they want to penetrate. To give more detail: from 2010 to 2013, Twitch TV has sponsored more than 100 events/teams from every spectrum: ESL, Team Dignitas, Team Liquid, Absolute Legends, Empire, FXOpen, Karont3 Club, Fnatic, Natus Vincere, Grubby, Capcom Pro Tour, Godsgarden, DreamHack events, GeForce StarCraft II Pro/Am, TwitchTV White-Ra Meet Up. Not to mention their after-parties that still happen at most events as well as their charity work, etc. It doesn’t matter if each sponsorship was simply a typical partnership (ad-based revenue). It leveraged the relationship these organizations and events had with the community and at the same time, the organizations and events used Twitch TV to maintain or establish their legitimacy and intent to provide further content for their fans.

By 2011, they already had 8 million unique viewers and had started to do coverage at E3 and Gamescom (2011). But it doesn’t stop there and it is just overall smart to be as aggressively involved as possible, even despite complaints from certain regions about lag and stuttering from Twitch TV which was a rampant mention for at least a year. Twitch TV was also smart in hiring key members of the eSports scene such as James ‘2GD’ Harding and Marcus ‘djWheat’ Graham in 2011.

Even in djWheat’s announcement video, he makes it clear how supportive, involved and strong Twitch TV is with eSports. That still remains true to this day, though their presence has become even more direct with their own setups at events such as E3 and more recently, Comic-Con New York.

Other notable names being hired at Twitch TV is Justin ‘TheGunRun’ Ignacio and Mike Ross from the Fighting Games Community among many other involved community members. This is not an unusual strategy and in fact, you can draw parallels with OnGamers.com in hiring key contributors to the scene to increase their brand’s visibility and create key relationship markers for communities to identify with. Team Razer is no different in their long history of supporting players and brands, going so far as to use them in their products and marketing.

For companies following in their footsteps, their outreach to the community needs to be improved. For example, Azubu TV’s currently approach is very oriented towards the concept of Staying at Your Campsite as referenced in the sub-topic: Get Started, Keep Rolling. Where they contract many popular entertainers and competitors to livestream on their site to draw viewership but are typically uninvolved in the scene. To this day, their contributions revolve around creating content, whether written or video but very much hands-off in terms of direct affiliation and support of organizations, events and the community. When following in the footsteps of an already established business, a company’s proactiveness and need for identity should be emphasized even more strongly. This is especially in view of competitors such as HitBox.tv who have started creating their tournaments, albeit small, but a step in the right direction.

The Valve Example, The Riot Alternative

In many ways, Valve Software has achieved the highest result in creating a proactive and established community. They have created a hands-off system of curating community contributions directly with their game. They are so much into being a helping hand for user-generated content (UGC) that their coming Source 2 engine revolves around making it easier for users to create content (ranging from maps to game modes and beyond).

In Valve’s Steam Dev. Days Video, Valve highlights the perks of allowing user-generated content: exposing and renewing ways to play your game, giving customers a direct line of voice and provides ongoing value to customers. As we said in “Giving What You’re Taking”, Valve rewards those contributors through both (split) monetization as well as direct credit to the contributor.

While it is arguable that Steam’s customer service is weak overall, their ability to engage users, interact with them beyond words and translate community into product-supporting contributors (whether it be through their ticket-compendium system, guides, mods and skins/items) is trend-setting. It furthers their ability to create identity as an open-platform in which the community serves themselves and gains from everyone’s support and popularity.

On the other hand, Riot Games alternative approach is contrarily hands-on in amplifying their game’s pool of interest. Ranging from music videos, documentaries, their international championship series and coverage surrounding it to the varied media content including animated sequences and philosophy involving their gamers. Riot Games takes their product and furthers its range of unique content, interaction and reach through a variety of marketable forms and continues to pump out polished digestible mediums for fans to continue enjoying and feeling refreshed about their game that can be typically frustrating or challenging. You can love League of Legends without needing to play and that constant media stream keeps their word-of-mouth strong and their identity cemented. They shape their players, past and present, to be Summoners without being directly involved in the client.

Whether being hands-on or hands-off, a constant stream of content to enhance your product directly in the client or surrounding is a priority. Communication about your updates in unique and appealing ways is priority number two.

Team Fortress 2 has a history of creating fun ways to introduce players to new modes and get them excited for new updates. Whether it is through video or poster boards, Team Fortress 2 has had a constant stream of new content and maintains a strong and interesting way in communicating with their player base.

A Consistent Brand, A Personalized Identity

In short, whether you’re a company or a person trying to create a following; forming an identity for yourself and remaining consistent with that identity, content and methods of interaction is much easier said than done. For those who have achieved it, especially in gaming, have made it tough to follow but not impossible. To create a community around what you have is nothing short of a question of persistence, confidence in yourself and the passion for what you’re doing, regardless if no one watches, reads or plays it. More simply put, becoming a person of value before seeing yourself as a person of success can lead to more apt objectives to aim for and make each progressive step all the more enriching for your self-being. I would add that the community feeds off what you give/say and reciprocates with a shared interest on anything further that you do.

As a company, making your service or product is only half the battle. Learning how to talk to your customers is something else. In this day and age, marketing and communication is no longer one directional but rather circular and mutually benefiting, so long as you, the company, frame it that way. Being fair, genuine and authentic can go a long way to establishing long-term consumers rather than one-time unhappy visitors. To add, reaching out to your consumers in unique ways will create unique responses and unique justifications for them to visit your product/service.

 


*Relevant articles about community management, interaction and growth:

Review: Free to Play: Documentary – Valve’s Magnifier on eSports

Free to Play

Today, Valve’s highly-anticipated documentary, Free to Play has been released. Free to Play’s platform and subject is Valve’s own free-to-play game: Dota 2 and while the main content has some focus around the competitive game, the beauty of this documentary is how representative it is for all eSports whether StarCraft or any other eSport. The three main protagonists, Benedict ‘Hyhy‘ Lim Han Yong, Danylo ‘Dendi‘ Ishutin and Clinton ‘Fear‘ Loomis symbolize the question of choosing what life expects from you; what is the safest route, and following through on your passion, the chase to be the best in something – in Dota 2. Free to Play uses Dota 2 as a platform to introduce these three players and expose its audience the adversities we all face.

Though it is unfortunate that in many areas, this documentary is dated both in how far Dota 2 has come along as well as how much the scene as a whole has grown, it is something that all documentaries will suffer on gaming-related subcultures; especially eSports when everything moves so fast. The timeline of this documentary is set throughout Valve’s first major tournament: The International 2011 where Na’Vi claims first and EHOME ends second. They transition between in-game footage and Source Filmmaker-created content to alleviate the outdated graphics and further inject excitement in the matches for those unfamiliar with the game.

However, on the other hand, Valve plays strongly on its consistency in emotion, story-telling and pacing. They shrug off the small fact that it is outdated and push forward with its exposé of the three main pro-gamers: Singaporean player, Hyhy, Ukrainian Na’Vi competitor, Dendi, and American Evil Geniuses star, Fear. In short, Free to Play has some dated parts, but the stories, emotions and prevalent problems are timeless and culturally contextual.

Free to Play sits on a unique fence of being an easy-to-understand overview of what makes eSports so compelling and so risky as a career for newcomers to the electronic sphere but also intriguing and curious on the inside lives of the players on an individual level and on a cultural level between Eastern Europe, China and North America.

The Free to Play documentary highlights what most of us already involved know, on any level; that eSports is a transitional valued competition. That older generations value what they know; education, sports, music; skills that can be displayed, used or even marketable in the real world. eSports embodies sports through its players, their dedication, determination and passion. The sacrifices these players make, to convince or ignore those who did not initially support them is what we can all resonate with and further shows how much of a leap this transitional generation we are in. A generation where technology captures the timeless essence of our desire to thrive, compete and become the best.

All in all, Free to Play does not break new grounds for most of us, but helps set a presentable front a relatable front for those new to eSports and curious of looking deeper in this new body of subcultural water known as competitive gaming.

You can watch the full documentary on Youtube.com and/or via the Steam Client!