Getting fans involved always brings up the hype of an event.
A lot of prestige surrounds The International, a large part of which comes from its prize pool. You’ve probably heard of these million-dollar (in some cases multi-million dollar) payouts no matter what esports you follow. It’s staggering for sure and it goes to show how a good business model and fan interaction can bring up the hype of an already massive event.
The idea didn’t come to Dota 2 developers Valve straight away. In the very first International held in GamesCom Cologne, 2011, Valve put $1.6 million in the prize pool. This would be the first time an esports tournament would have a reward of a considerable amount, thus changing the way people saw esports. A historical number at the time but this is just a blip compared to where it would go.
In 2013 Valve introduced the Compendium, an interactive in-game document. It contained cosmetic items, featured content, exclusive rewards, and more for those who purchased it. 25% of its sales would go towards the prize pool of The International with Valve still providing a 1.6 million USD base, thus allowing players to show their support while getting something in return.
As the years went by the Compendium would get bigger and better. It would offer more prizes and rewards, giving players more incentives to purchase levels. In its first year, the Compendium brought The International’s prize pool up to 2.8 million. The highest it would reach was 40 million at The International 2021, and this was after a year-long delay due to the lockdowns caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Plans For The Future
Coming into this year’s International, Valve made a controversial announcement that they were scaling back the features in the Compendium. They want to shift their focus beyond just The International and the Compendium but are still keeping the 25% split. As nice as this is, the slim pickings in this year’s Compendium has drastically slowed down its sales, leading to the lowest prize pool in The International’s history since the Compendium’s introduction.
Time will tell if Valve’s new strategy for The International will pan out. As it stands, we may not see the astronomic prize pools of previous years ever again but it has been proven that if you offer fans a good incentive, they’re more than willing to contribute to one of the biggest esports events of the year.
Banner photo from Dota 2 The International.