Valve probably isn’t happy with Drodo Studio right now.
The creators of the wildly popular Dota Auto Chess custom game mode split off from Valve earlier this year to create a mobile version of the game. That Dota-free version of Auto Chess is now set to be ported to PC and it will be exclusive to the Epic Games Store. The news was announced at PC Gamer’s E3 keynote alongside a trailer that gives a first look at the PC version of the game.
This is a wild turn of events for what has been an incredibly active E3 for Auto Chess.
The custom game mode arrived in the Dota 2 arcade in January and sparked a resurgence in the title’s popularity. It has attracted nearly 9 million players to date and developed its own unique community and competitive scene separate from Dota 2.
Though Valve was reportedly working alongside Drodo Studio in order to make a standalone version of the game for Steam, news broke that the developer had instead partnered with Imba TV and Long Mobile to create a mobile version of the game. The new Auto Chess featured the same gameplay but had all Dota 2 references scrubbed out, with the familiar characters replaced with cartoonish lookalikes.
Valve acknowledged that it hadn’t been able to come to terms with Drodo on making its own standalone Auto Chess but gave the company its blessing in a statement on the official Dota 2 blog. Though the breakup seemed to be amicable, it likely doesn’t remain that way now.
Earlier this year Fortnite publisher Epic Games launched its own digital storefront, the Epic Games Store. The company has made a series of aggressive moves to make the service a legitimate contender to Steam, including offering favorable revenue splits to developers and securing limited exclusivity to a number of prominent PC releases including Borderlands 3 and Metro Exodus.
This has irked a number of players and has also led to some grumbles from Valve itself. In the case of Auto Chess, the company cannot be happy about having the game slip through its fingers and land in the hands its growing archrival.
Valve isn’t completely out of the Auto Chess business, though. The game remains available on Dota 2 and the company has also announced plans to create its own separate Auto Chess-style game. Unfortunately for both parties, the genre is going to get even more crowded in the near future as Riot Games announced its own Auto Chess-inspired spin-off to League of Legends, titled Teamfight Tactics.