2012's year of gaming is now over and that means Neoseeker is deep in deliberation over its "Game of the Year" award. In December and early January each of Neoseeker's 10 nominees for Game of the Year will be profiled. Join in the discussion, speculate on the nominees, and subtly persuade us which game deserves such an honorable award.
The last Neoseeker nominee for 2012's "Game of the Year" is here and odds are it's not going to be the game that anyone wants to see. Considering it's the last spot left on the list, everyone probably has that one favorite game from the year they were hoping. What a troll I must be then selecting a game most people likely weren't even considering a contender. I'll admit even I wasn't considering Dota 2 for this list until a mere few weeks ago. Yet here it is, and honestly I couldn't iimagine another game from 2012 taking its place.
While this isn't the place to necessarily explain or defend Dota 2's selection, it would be remiss of me to not at least give my basic point of view. It really comes down to the fact that Dota 2 is, for the most part, already fully released. Even Valve refuses to call Dota 2 a "beta," instead referring to its current state as early release. Dota 2 can be bought on Steam, it's the most most popular game on Steam, and the only difference between now and the game's future release is the price to begin. Dota 2 is one of the best games you can play right now, in 2012, and it would be an insult not to recognize its significance based off an indeterminite state of release.
Why Dota 2 is great:
- Welcome to Dota 2, you suck - Some say it's the hefty learning curve, some say it's the dependence on cooperation and teamwork, and some say it's the balance design motto that when every character is over-powered, no one is. It all boils down to the fact that Dota 2 offers a depth and breadth of play few games can compare to. The nuance and complexities that go into every match can drive a new player insane, and even the top tier of professional players will tell you they have much to improve on. Dota 2 isn't meant for everyone, but there's a lot of value in spitting in the face of broader appeal in order to maintain a game's ideals.
- Cooperative intensity - Every single character in Dota 2 has a purpose, a strength, and can carry a game almost single handedly, but no individual player can win alone. It's likely due to the inherent strength of each hero that teamwork plays such an important role in in the game. High-level play becomes a sort of dance, where even the slightest error can make the difference between victory and defeat.
- It's (mostly) free, and entirely open - By open, I mean that once you have Dota 2 you have access to everything youneed to succeed at the game. Where League of Legends locks new characters and a supplementary Rune system behind pay walls or exclusionary time investments, Dota 2 does no such thing. All characters are available, no supplementary gameplay systems; once you're in, you're in. There are some things to pay for, of course...
- Built by the community, for the community - Dota 2 was origianlly a fan-created mod for WarCraft III and has been passed down across generations of new caretakers. It was the third caretaker, IceFrog, who brought the game to Valve. Valve continues the Dota tradition of community focus, allowing fan-created content like skins to be sold in the marketplace and selling passes to competitive events that can be viewed through the Dota 2 client -- sharing proceeds, of course.
- eSport - Hands down, Dota 2 is one of the most enjoyable games to watch played competitively. There's intrigue, drama, and a growing amount of money that will hopefully rapidly grow the scene. The best part, like Football, is the more you know about Dota 2 the better it is to watch. Knowing the players, the characters, their skills, it all makes Dota 2 a large part of the future of eSports.
There's no argument in my mind that Dota 2 is one of the best games of 2012. So much so that the argument that it may not actually be a game of 2012 actually lost all relevance. It's here, it's now, and it's great. The fact that Dota 2 might be a bigger, better game in 2013 only makes it that much more significant now.
Dota 2 isn't like the other games on our Game of the Year list. It's a (kind of) free-to-play game that's multiplayer only. There's no single player and no story. There's only one map and the ultimate goal of every game is basically the same. Yet you could play thousands of games and never have the same experience twice. Valve has taken some of the most brilliant gameplay of the decade and made it accessible to a new generation of gamers. It may never be as popular as League of Legends, but I don't think those who play Dota 2 would have it any other way.
Neoseeker Game of the Year nominees:
- The Walking Dead
- Hotline Miami
- Darksiders II
- Assassin's Creed III
- Far Cry 3
- Halo 4
- Guild Wars 2
- Dota 2
Also, check out and vote in our community Game of the Year poll where the current leader is Borderlands 2.