Is Dota 2 Dying? – Verdict from a decade-old fan and some stats

Is Dota 2 dying? The decade-old debate for the ancient game needs an answer. While Dota 2 itself is barely ten years old, its predecessor, Defence of the Ancients (Dota), has had far older origins and lore.

Dota 2 survived the test of time for the most part, but seasonal fluctuation in players occurs all year round. Most notably, when Icefrog drops a significant update on the game that revamps the game mechanics itself, or when the Internationals series is approaching. On the Esports side of things, Dota 2 fans can appreciate the fact that most of the best Dota 2 players do not move on to other Esports titles. After all, there’s just something so enticing and nostalgic about Dota 2 that keeps its fans around.

© The International 2021

Is Dota 2 Dying?

Hence, is Dota dead, you might be wondering? Well, long story short, nope, not in the slightest.

Valve has consistently worked on bringing Dota 2 to the general public’s attention. Earlier in 2021, Valve collaborated with Netflix to release an entire Dota 2 series featuring the Dragon’s Blood, with a third season in the making too. Needless to say, it was just the mainstream media Dota 2 needed to get more fans on board.

The Dota 2 developers have also attempted to make the game a more beginner-friendly experience. Fundamental game mechanics, such as the correct stacking times and ward or skill range, were some of the many features included. Which once again raised quite a debate among old-school players, who aren’t too excited at Valve for making the game easier.

Meanwhile, they are also ensuring there are fun events and rewards to spice up the festive seasons. For instance, we saw the Aghanim’s Labyrinth event brought a peak player count of 723,000 during its course.

Sure, the numbers are by no means worthy of a celebration as Dota 2 once reached a peak player count of a million players back in 2019. Furthermore, the global pandemic halted the Dota Pro Circuit (DPC) last year, directly impacting the Esports betting side of Dota 2. Without the major tournaments and Internationals, it took a toll on the fan base to keep pursuing the hobby.

Dota 2 Player Count

Player Stats | Steam Charts

Is Dota 2’s Competitive Scene Dying?

Every year, the Dota 2 player base waits eagerly for Valve to release the Dota 2 Battle Pass. In 2020, the Dota 2 Battle Pass raked in 160 million USD of revenue from sales. It’s that one time of the year when Dota 2 players pump in cash to fund the Internationals series.

Although there’s a heavy debacle about how inefficient Valve uses the funds to nurture Dota 2 Esports scene, we can rest assured that Dota 2 fans are still as dedicated as they claimed to be. With each subsequent year’s prize pool surpassing its previous years, the amount itself is good enough encouragement for Dota 2 pro players to stick around.

Perhaps, with better regional league systems, Dota 2 can encourage younger talents to join the fray.

How many people still play Dota 2?

Dota 2’s all-time peak is still 1.29 million players, which was long achieved in year 2016. As of April 2022, Dota 2 only has a daily average of 429,215 active players. These numbers are still record-breaking compared to its competitors, but we had rather enjoy the good old times when a daily average of 1 million active players was trivial.

Will these numbers improve as we creep closer to the International 11 in August 2022? Yes, we can at least expect a surge when the championship takes off. After all, who could resist the hype and thrill of watching our favorite teams play?

Is Dota 2 losing players?

Short answer is yes, Dota 2 is indeed losing players.

With the recent rise in popularity of mobile games like Genshin Impact, there’s perhaps a new trend in the gaming community to try out mobile games. Furthermore, Dota 2’s average player age is quite higher then other game titles. Dota 2 is mostly retaining veteran players around, but the lack of interest from the younger players is the main factor here. As years go by, Dota 2 needs to attract younger generations to fill the void. After all, we can’t just rely on Dota 2 fans in their late 30s to maintain the player base.

On average more players stop playing Dota 2, then new players sign up to play. There is however the added benefit of Dota 2 being a cyclical game, with players returning to the title every 6 months.

Do the best Dota 2 players still play?

In 2022, we witnessed a new class of best Dota 2 players rises to our expectations. We saw the Chinese powerhouses snatched both Dota 2 Majors to claim the top spots in DPC 2021 rankings, but Team Spirit got the last laugh when they won the International 10. While traditional powerhouses like Nigma Galaxy, Team Secret and Alliance are having an underwhelming season, there is plenty of organizations fighting up the ladder to challenge the powerhouses, notably team OG and TeamSoloMid.

However, OG today is led by new blood, which still manage to live up to its founding members’ reputation. Anathan “ana” Pham recently announced that he is retiring from the competitive Dota 2 scene for good. Although ana’s return in April 2021 was highly celebrated, the two-time champion wasn’t cut out against formidable opponents in 2022. Hence, will not make it into the list of best Dota 2 players of 2022.

Nevertheless, many of the best players still play though, some even returned from retirement. For instance, JerAx, the two-time TI champion is still active, and last played for Evil Geniuses before getting kicked.

Dota 2 and Icefrog are listening

Dota 2 is a beloved MOBA genre with diehard fans throughout its decade-long establishment. Even so, fans have often criticized the developers and Icefrog for not listening to suggestions and feedback as much as we wanted.

In 2022, we saw a change in how Dota 2 dev team operates, notably in how efficient they are leveraging player feedback. Many features that have been on many players’ bucket list finally got implemented, which improves the game’s quality-of-life experiences. Furthermore, cosmetics, more frequent cosmetic updates, and events are in the development to fancy the players.

In hindsight, it’s a great step in the right direction by Icefrog and his team, as loyal Dota 2 fans always appreciate the features, cosmetics, and events, even if it meant splurging thousands.