Is Dota 2 Dying? – Is the MOBA Reaching the End?
If you ask a certain group of players from a certain rival MOBA, ‘is Dota 2 dying’, you’ll probably get a few laughs as you’re told: “Oh that? That’s been dead for years!” We know better than to trust rival fans though, so we’re going through all the numbers and stats to find the truth. Before that though, a quick recap for those who aren’t familiar with the history of the game.
While Dota was technically not the first MOBA that was ever released, it was certainly the one that popularized the genre. The first Dota was released to the public in 2003, and while the initial version definitely did not get too much attention, it got just enough to motivate its creators to keep innovating and implementing new things on the map.
After numerous versions, Dota became a staple on the Battle.net platform, and millions of people played it. The map was so popular that it managed to spawn its own separate game, the one that most people play today, Dota 2. It was released on July 9th 2013, on Steam, and the attention it got was incredible.
Of course, now, it has been almost ten years from the release of Dota 2, and time is usually what kills every game. So, is Dota 2 dying for real? To answer that question, we have to look at a couple of metrics because while we are sure that the game is dead in some peoples’ eyes, but the opinions of individuals cannot compare to numbers.
Dota 2 Player Base
The best way to see if Dota 2 is dying is to look at its current player base and compare it to its all-time high, as well as the numbers when it was in its prime. In comparison, a lot of games do not track their player base, at least not for the public, but Dota 2 does since its main platform is Steam. By looking at Steam Charts, we can see that the all-time peak for Dota 2 was 1,291,328 concurrent players as it was in March 2016.
In 2022, the player base certainly decreased, as the peak player count for each month goes from 786,0000 to 679,000 concurrent players, with the lowest number being in May. By looking at the all-time high, and the slowly reducing player base this year, one would definitely have to ask, is Dota 2 dying? However, with a bit more speculation, we can see that the player base has been bouncing between 600,000 and 800,000 for a couple of years now, since 2019 in fact. With that in mind, Dota 2 is in quite a stable place, at least when it comes to the player count.
Dota 2 Viewership
While Dota 2 certainly has a decent player base, even today, another metric that we should look at is its esports scene. The main reason for that is because a lot of games today might have a sustained player base, but without an esports scene to support it, people are bound to lose interest at one point. Of course, viewership does not come from esports only but seeing how much people are interested in a game even when they are not playing it shows just how alive it truly is.
According to Statista, we can see the average viewership on Twitch from January 2018 until April 2022. In January 2018, the average viewership was around 41,000, and in April 2022, the average actually increased as it is 52,000.
Throughout the years, there have been a couple of spikes, which make certain months stand out with averages of 94,000 in 2018, 95,000 in 2019, and 133,000 in 2021. These were the months when the biggest tournament in Dota 2 was held: the International. Seeing that a lot of people are interested in the Dota 2 stream of its biggest event of the year debunks anyone who thinks that Dota 2 is dying.
Dota 2 Tournaments
Now that we already know that people are interested in watching the tournaments, are they actually something that is worth reaching for from the competitive aspect. Are there a lot of tournaments throughout the year, and what is their prize pool? These questions are not only for the sake of new and old players competing for prizes but also for the sake of the Dota 2 betting scene since if there are more exciting tournaments, more people can bet and potentially win some money themselves.
We got to start off with The International, as it is one of the biggest tournaments in esports. It features all the top Dota 2 players, and they usually compete for some ridiculously high prize pools. In fact, what makes Dota 2 most alive is the pure prize pool of The International, which was $2,874,380 in 2013, and over the years, it kept growing and growing to the point where it was a whopping $40,018,195 in 2021.
While many would assume that the prize pool is so big because Dota 2 is owned by Valve, that is actually not the case. Valve only gives the base of $1,600,000 for the prize pool, and the rest is fundraised by the active players who purchase in-game content. Considering the amount of money raised for 2021, in just 137 days, Dota 2 is very much alive, or at least it was in 2021. The fundraiser for 2022 did not begin yet, but it will certainly be a good metric to see where Dota 2 stands this year.
Besides The International, there are other numerous tournaments throughout the year, and most of them have thousands of dollars in prize pools. With that said, the competitive scene of Dota 2 is very much alive.
Another thing that impacts the popularity and life of the game is controversies, and when it comes to Dota 2, oh boy, there are quite a lot of them. Some of them are caused by Valve, like the cancellation of the Dota 2 Major of 2022.
Others have been caused by the combination of players and recent political events. Some cases are ones where a player has been allegedly dropped from a team because his mom passed away from cancer, and the other one involves a Russian team drawing the symbol Z on the minimap while playing against a Ukrainian team.
So, is Dota 2 dying?
One thing for Dota 2 is true, and that is if people are interested in writing and reading about the controversies, while the game still has a decent player base, as well as a good average viewership, and an amazing esports scene, the game is long from being dead.