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Dota 2's first monetised custom game gets off to a rocky start

Developers defend themselves from accusations of asset theft.

This week Valve launched the Custom Game Pass system for its hugely popular MOBA, Dota 2.

Roshpit Champions is a co-op PvE RPG with permanent character saving. It's one of the most popular Dota 2 custom games.

It lets custom game creators monetise their mods by selling access to extra features.

The first Custom Game Pass went on sale this week, priced $1 for 30 days. It's for popular mod Roshpit Champions, and lets users enable additional stash and character slots.

But Roshpit Champions found itself embroiled in controversy when a user on Reddit accused its creators of stealing assets.

Reddit user Darkswordfish accused the developers of taking icons, art and models from other artists and developers without attributing credit.

Among the items under the spotlight are the Crusader Boots. The icon for this item was taken from a low-res version of a piece of World of Warcraft art used for NPCs Darion and Alexandros Mograine.

The issue raised questions about the ownership of Dota 2 Custom Games. There is a dispute here: Darkswordfish points to a couple of emails from Valve employees who say workshop artists retain intellectual property rights. However, the creators of Roshpit Champions claim Valve retain the rights.

For its part, one of the creators of Roshpit Champions has defended the group from the accusations, insisting no malice was intended. However, he did admit to lifting the Crusader Boots image from World of Warcraft, and modifying an existing house model without permission.

Here's the post, from user chalky_brush.

For years modders have tinkered with and in many cases improved upon the work of others - Dota 2 itself is the follow-up to a Warcraft 3 mod called Defense of the Ancients - and in the process avoided running up against rights issues because the mods were free. Credit where credit is due was, usually, all that was needed.

But now Valve has enabled a way for modders to earn money from their creations, the rules have changed, and Dota 2 custom games are throwing up the same kind of intellectual property and copyright issues commercial games battle.

The episode also shines a light on Valve's commitment to curate Custom Game Passes. From the Custom Game FAQ:

Some within the Dota 2 community believe the Valve should be responsible for checking custom games for potential rights issues before giving the thumbs up to monetisation. Others say it's down to custom game creators to do the right thing and police themselves.

As for Roshpit Champions, ChalkyBrush said he will replace the Crusader Boots image in the custom game's next patch.

Valve has yet to comment on this latest development. It'll be interesting to see how it reacts.