When Valve announced their involvement in the development of Defense of the Ancients 2, gaming news sites around the world swarmed. For those who haven't heard of Defense of the Ancients, or DotA for short, it is the pioneer of the Multiplayer Online Battle Arena genre in video games. DotA originated as a custom scenario for the widely popular Warcraft III: The Frozen Throne, whose development is helmed by Icefrog.
The rise of DotA could be attributed to the fact that it was made for the community and by the community. Its popularity skyrocketed to the millions in 26 different languages worldwide, spawning competitive tournaments such as the World DotA Championship (WDC) and the SMM Grand National DotA Tournament with cash prizes up to USD32,000. Since its release, DotA has become a staple at Blizzard Entertainment's BlizzCon and the Asian World Cyber Games, as well as the Cyberathlete Amateur and CyberEvolution leagues. Gamasutra declared that DotA was perhaps the most popular "free, non-supported game mod in the world". Its prominence has also brought competitors looking for a cut in the profits, with similar MOBA-styled games such as League of Legends and Heroes of Newerth popping up.
Fast forward to present day 2010, DotA 2 is under development by Valve together with Icefrog. While DotA has always been a free to play scenario, not counting the initial purchase of Warcraft III, this new game under Valve heralds the start of its commercialization, but whether it becomes Free-to-Play (FTP) with an in-game cash shop or Pay-to-Play (PTP), remains to be seen.
Regardless, there is no doubt DotA 2 would have a warm reception, judging from the current playerbase, though gameplay-wise Valve has high expectations to fulfill.