Dotaland note: Some business talk in here, a few sorta strange responses, lots of interesting stuff too.
Q: Dr Xiao hello. The Dota 2 Chinese beta will come online on the 28th of April. At the same time, there have been increasing amounts of Dota-like games on the domestic market — in the face of so many competitors, what do you think Dota 2 will need to see success here?
Robert Hong Xiao (RHX): Our focus isn’t necessarily placed upon competing with others; instead, it’s more geared towards pushing out an excellent game and customer service product out for customers. From DotA to today’s Dota 2, the game itself has always been superb. Whenever anyone plays a similar game, they enter a gaming ‘mode’ defined by Dota, so all other similar games can only be described as Dota-like games. In Dota 2 we’re seeing a wide array of improvements in details, mechanics, and graphics, and during our global search for additional products to add to our portfolio, we felt that Dota 2 was truly a top tier product, which is why we steadfastly chose to work on Dota 2. It isn’t only a game, I believe that it represents a kind of culture, a set of values. Even though I’m personally not a gamer, I still believe that I have the responsibility of ensuring that we present the most positive, caring, interesting, and professional product possible to gamers, because it is a product that has the unstoppable ability to influence yet more people.
So what we need to do is very simple, we need to continue to improve the product, do our best in terms of service, these are our jobs. As for who we’re competing with, it’s not really something we are really concerned about, and whether it will defeat any competitors, it’s not something we really care about. In the process of getting the Chinese servers online, our team at Perfect World has put a lot of work in.
Q: A common piece of feedback from players is that quite a few of the characters in Dota 2, along with their style, are hard to swallow. Will Dota 2 see some changes to better fit the Chinese pallette?
RHX: There is indeed work being done on related items, but right now it’s very difficult to say exactly where that process is. This is also something that requires a lot of communication with Valve. The most important thing is, Dota 2 should be an avenue to promote Chinese elements to the world. The work itself is two-fold: first of all there must be constant communication with Valve to ensure the game operates smoothly, secondly it is to explore ways in which Chinese elements can be implanted within the game. Of course, these are all things that will be worked on.
Q: In the process of bringing the Chinese servers online, have you had any insights or lessons that you’d like to share?
RHX: Firstly, the team has been really hard at work. Due to time differences, our team often works late at night in order to collaborate with the American side, and then still work their normal hours when the American side is asleep. Additionally, the American side also has needed to extend their work hours to work with us, so both sides have put in a lot of hard work, they truly love this product.
In their collaboration, they’ve taken the approach of learning first. Under circumstances where we have language difficulties, to be able to gain such deep understandings in our work together, it has been a very unique experience. Valve have also learned a lot regarding the Chinese market.
Q: In the past few years, esports has boomed in its growth. For Dota, a very competitive game, has their been similar growth?
RHX: I’ve said before during open meetings at Perfect World, something like baseball (in China) was also once maligned and shunned by parents, to only gradually gain acceptance, and esports is very similar. They both allow people to express teamwork and individual potential. If a group of people push esports along a positive path, then over a few generations of effort, it is completely possible to develop esports into something that is recognized and accepted in the mainstream as an industry and market. Perfect World absolutely wants to pursue this goal. The hope is that perhaps one day, when your kid asks you if he or she can go play Dota 2 professionally, you can unwaveringly give him or her your support.
Q: Nowadays there are a lot of players on various school campuses, has Perfect World considered doing events or competitions on school campuses?
RHX: Right now we’re not yet able to talk about details, but our partnership with AMD and Gamefy is the beginning of just this type of thing. We will do widespread promotion, the goal being to push the game out to all sorts of potential enthusiasts. Not only university students, because Dota 2 has unlimited potential. To allow gamers a few tries with the game and get them to fall in love with it, that is our ultimate target. We will do a lot of events in order to support this.