By permastun 15 Comments
In 2004, Steve ‘Pendragon’ Mescon founded dota-allstars.com, which became a worldwide hub for the DoTA community. For four years, it was the central destination for all things DoTA, including strategy discussion, design discussion, actual hero designs, hero stories, and fan art. In 2008, Mescon was hired by Riot Games to be the director of community relations. Riot Games was founded Brandon ‘Ryze’ Beck and Marc ‘Tryndamere’ Merrill. Riot quickly hired up DoTA All-Stars collaborator Steve ‘Guinsoo’ Feak, who had taken over development of the mod originally created by a Warcraft 3 player known as Eul.
In 2008, Riot Games also released its first game, League of Legends, into beta. Not long after hiring Mescon, dota-allstars.com was abruptly shut down. In its place was a letter to the community from Pendragon himself, explaining why. It read in part:
The website will be offline for the next week or so while the database is moved to its new permanent home where its contents will remain archived and available to the public for the sake of historical preservation.
In the meantime, I hope some of you will join me and over 3 million other players for a game of League of Legends (it’s free!)
To put this into context, allow me to give you an analogy. This would be like Josh Allen going to work for Blizzard, shutting down tankspot.com and replacing it with a link to whatever project Titan ends up being. What’s worse is that the promise of the site archive being available in the next few weeks wasn’t accurate. It took over 3 years for the archive to be released, with an attached snarky message.
Well fuck you too.
Hey seriously though - I put this out there because I want people to have it, so I’m going to drop in the link and my contact details if anyone wants to use it for anything and need help please let me know.
Whether you like me or hate me, I poured years of my life into helping create a community that lots of people enjoyed and I’m proud of what it became. You can disagree with decisions I’ve made - some of which have been great and some of them not so great, but my intentions have never been anything but good.
Feel free to keep on hatin’
Mescon also sold the rights to the dota-allstars.com domain to his employer, Riot Games, who then turned around and sold it right to Blizzard. Unfortunately all attached files, including community made heroes, heroes that had been removed from the game, and tons of fan art, were not part of the archive. So in the end, a large part of four years of DoTA history was gone.
However, according to some community members Pendragon doesn’t seem to have been an extremely likeable figure in the community. Some DoTA veterans that I’ve spoken with over the past year or so have told me that they believe Pendragon, and his supporters, to be one of the underlying roots to the toxic nature of the communities in this genre. Many have cited his very public spats of rage in the early days of the mod to be very symptomatic and somewhat viral throughout the community.
Pendragon isn’t the sole reason these communities are toxic. He’s not even the sole reason Dota players despise Riot. A lot of this comes down to marketing tactics—such as creating the genre acronym MOBA—in an attempt to disassociate League of Legends with its predecessor and prevent it from being called DoTA-like, in the way that dungeon crawling RPG’s are sometimes referred to as Diablo-like.
But the real straw that broke the camel’s back was this marketing campaign.
Players felt this was a distasteful jab at a game and community that made their very existence possible. And they weren’t done yet. In 2012, Geoff ‘iNcontrol’ Robinson mentioned a rumor that he had heard over Twitter about Riot contractually preventing teams from having squads in other MOBA games. This was later confirmed by Evil Geniuses COO Scott ‘Sir Scoots’ Smith.
Riot declared these rumors to be unfounded, and eventually Riot relented on their demands. but the damage had already been done. As the years go on, it will be interesting to see if Riot will attempt to mend fences. Many members of the community have washed their hands of the situation and moved on, either to Heroes of Newerth or Dota 2. If the bottom ever falls out of League of Legends, Riot could be in some serious trouble when it comes to the hardcore gaming community.