Valve today confirmed Dota 2 will be free to play.
The publisher also announced the inclusion of an in-game store, where players will be able to buy gear and customise heroes--however, all items in the store will be cosmetic and will not affect gameplay.
All heroes will be available free of charge, with Valve writing on the Dota 2 blog: "We believe restricting player access to heroes could be destructive to game design, so it's something we plan to avoid."
Upon opening, the Dota Store will offer items created by Valve and members of the community that may be used immediately and carried over after the public launch of the game. Early access to the game will not be required to purchase items before launch.
However, those wishing to get into the game now can do so by purchasing the Dota 2 Early Access Bundle of items through Steam. The bundle costs $39.99 and includes some items that can be traded.
Valve also announced that Dota 2 is now part of the Steam Workshop, a place for fan-created content that can be voted on by other players and translated to the official game by the Valve development team (with the original creator of the content receiving a slice of the sales from the in-game store).
Valve said over $3.5 million dollars was paid out to Team Fortress 2 fans whose creations became part of the game in the first year.
"The opening of the Dota Store is a big part of our final push to launch," Dota 2 design lead IceFrog said in a statement. "By making the game free to play, we hope to give gamers the ability to decide how--and how much--they want to invest in the game."
Dota 2 is scheduled for PC and Mac release this year. The game combines action and real-time strategy elements in multiplayer matches that pit teams of player-controlled heroes against one another. The game will include integrated voice chat and computer-controlled characters that will take over for players who disconnect during play sessions, as well as a coaching system, where veteran players will have the chance to tutor newcomers.