Why Don't More Games Have a Compendium?

Posted by Captain Marvelous |

Original Article on Masters.gg

With a total prize pool crowdfunded up to an astounding 19 million, DOTA2 once again proves to be one of the hottest spots for sheer prize pool value. This is due to Valve's creation of the Compendium/Battlepass. This nifty object is an incredible value for a mere ten-to-twenty-five dollars. One of the many, many questions that people respond to when it comes to the battlepass is the question of why other companies and games don't adopt a similar system. While we've seen other companies have attempted similar ventures, none have hit the stride or the sheer audience that DOTA2's compendium/battlepass has. While I don't have definitive answers, I want to dig in and provide some possible reasons why this sort of crowdfunding isn't as lucrative as many may think it is...at least for non-Valve companies.

Problem: The Value of the Add-on/DLC


As you could see from DOTA2's battlepass, the sheer amount of things offered for purchasing and contributing to the prize-pool is astronomical. I struggle to think of a company who could match this sort of sheer value when it comes to all the things the battle pass offers. Now, let's compare this to the Capcom Pro Tour DLC bundle Capcom has made to promote Street Fighter V's pro circuit. Included in this twenty five dollar bundle:

  • A new skin for both Chun-Li and Cammy. (As well as a third mystery skin)
  • Two new in-game titles.
  • Twenty two new colors for all characters in blue-and-gold Capcom style.
  • "The Ring of Destiny" stage pictured above.

Comparative to the Compendium, which offers FAR more for almost fifteen dollars less (Albeit with grinding and in-game play required), Capcom's bundle seems paltry. While it is true that comparing the Battlepass seems almost unfair to other DLC, one cannot discount it. However, in inspecting this element, we find another advantage Valve has comparative to other companies: Their talent for "outsourcing work".

Problem: Valve's Winning Community


One of Valve's biggest strengths is that they often work with the community to bring skins, cosmetics and otherwise community-created tools to the storefront for purchase. This is a far cry from fellow competitors Riot, Blizzard and HiRez who completely do their own work for skins and cosmetics. What this means, in my eyes, is that Valve can keep a constant flow of products coming into their store while not necessarily having to work on their own ideas and creations.

As an example, let's pretend HiRez's SMITE Odyssey was the only thing they put out on their own while most of the skins and tools they made were from the community. This would mean HiRez could focus more on their own work for this big event while still having a source of revenue from fan-created things. Unfortunately, because HiRez works alone, they have to devote time to both these items as well as keeping a steady stream of skins and tools incoming.

Valve, on the other hand, can still keep a fairly populated storefront without having to devote as many employees to making things for the players. This, in turn, lets them make their "official" releases even bigger and better for the upcoming event.

Problem: "Ded gaem ROFL"


A fantastic side-effect of the DOTA2 battlepass is that it shows just how much dedication and support the community has for the game. Smashing the previous years record, this shows us that players not only love the game but are earnest in their desire to support both Valve and DOTA2 in growing even bigger and better. Who cares about plunking down more cash for the battlepass? You're a fan of DOTA and the community is behind you!

But what about the inverse of this situation?

In the picture above, HoN's community-funded prizepool seems anemic in comparison. I don't play the game but if I, a new player, saw this and compared it to other games, what would that tell me? People don't care as much? Don't want to contribute as much? This backlash is more psychological but it's a very real danger: A botched compendium or battlepass could hurt your game and show your competitors/community just how much you've fallen from grace. It shows a wound in your game and that you, as a company and game, are weakened in this category.

I'm not going to say that I speak for everyone in this regard but, in my personal viewpoint, a poorly received battlepass hurts just as much as a good battlepass can help.

The Silver Lining: Is it still worth it?


With all these negatives listed, one might think that a compendium is an uphill battle and something almost impossible except by the incredible people at Valve. With all the possible backlash and all the incredible things that could happen, it might be business suicide to attempt such an undertaking and a futile battle to try and compete with Valve in making something of such pure value.

But I feel that this is something we should embrace, not flee from.

The essence of business and games is competition. To take what your competitor has done and expand and expound upon it until your new creation is absolutely incredible and makes the previous creation a fool by comparison. Valve have simply raised the bar quite high, which might frighten other companies. Yet this is important. For us, the players and consumers, we should be asking and supporting devs who want to try this. We should clap our hands even if it can't compare to the battlepass because you, as a company, are at least trying to make something to support the community and pro scene.

Must we always clap as hard as we can? Of course not, bad compendiums and deals exist. We can be thankful they tried but we can absolutely be critical about the situation. With games like League, Overwatch and more not going anywhere anytime soon, I'm simply waiting on these companies to pull the trigger, pool their resources, and honestly give Valve a run for their money. Valve lit the torch, it's just up to others to turn it into a roaring inferno.