In the world of competitive MOBA titles, Dota 2 can be considered the all-time king. There’s stiff competition in the form of League of Legends, but there are many who’ll claim that Dota 2 is the undisputed MOBA champion. Since 2013, Dota 2 has been an enormously popular title, having initially spawned as a simple mod for Warcraft III: Reign of Chaos. It’s a storied legacy, and fans have adored the platform for many years. But we’re here to ask a very important question now: is Dota 2 dying?
Where competitive gaming is concerned, one thing remains almost axiomatic: games have lifecycles. There isn’t one game around today that has remained unchanged since it launched, and in most cases, popular titles receive sequels, spin-offs, or follow-up releases. The first iteration of Dota – Defense of the Ancients – launched way back in 2003, and after ten years, it was replaced by Dota 2. However, there are no signs that Dota 2 is going to be replaced in a similar fashion – but does that give credence to the claim that Dota 2 is dying?
Let’s find out.
What’s the state of Dota 2 in 2023?
Now, let’s not focus on, “Why Dota 2 is dying,” but instead, let’s cast a less judgmental line and ask, “Is Dota 2 dying?”
There will always be critics standing at the ready to shoot down any platform, regardless of how well it is doing. If you’re cruising through the common subreddits and noticing that people are crying out at the death of Dota 2, you shouldn’t take that as gospel. There’s a tangible need to look a little deeper, study statistics, and really digest the state of Dota 2’s future.
Right now, as this article is being written, it’s hard to gauge the general popularity of Dota 2. That’s for one reason, and one reason only: The International. We’ll come back to that in a second.
But Dota 2 performs remarkably well on streaming platforms like Twitch. It’s regularly ranked relatively high on the streaming table, pulling in massive numbers and being broadcasted by some of the best Dota 2 players. The statistics speak for themselves, and Dota 2 enjoys a fairly positive reception across the board.
According to the popular statistics platform, Streamscharts.com, Dota 2 receives nearly 60,000 average viewers every month. Throughout the course of a month, around 1,500 individual channels stream Dota 2 gameplay, ranking it in the top 15 Twitch games of all time. It may not come as a surprise, but those numbers are stable, not dropping, suggesting that: No, Dota 2 is not dying.
If we look at Steamcharts.com, we can find out key information regarding the player counts of Dota 2. In December 2022, there were 468,545 average players. Compared with December 2021, when the average player count was 449,297, this means that the number of people playing Dota 2 is still stable.
Is Dota 2 Esports Dying?
In the last section, we mentioned something called The International.
Every fall, the most valuable esports tournament in the world takes place – The International. It’s a competition focused entirely on Dota 2, and it boasts a staggeringly high prize pool – $40 million in 2021 and nearly $19 million in 2022. It’s one of the biggest stages in modern gaming, and it’s the ultimate goal for any Dota 2 competitor.
For a period of time when this tournament is live, The International fuels the esports industry. It dominates the news, the feeds, and the streaming platforms. When it comes to esports betting on Dota 2, The International odds and markets are insanely popular and played by bettors all around the world. Does this tournament sound like the kind of thing that belongs to a dying game?
In 2019, The International peaked at 1.9m concurrent viewers during the grand final event of the tournament. In 2021, this concurrent figure peaked at 1.13m on the first day of the event.
By contrast, in 2018, The International 8 peaked at around 1.21m viewers. So, as the numbers reveal, the biggest esports tournament in Dota 2 is only getting more popular as time goes on.
In November 2022, Twitch’s total viewership for the official ‘dota2ti’ streaming channel was a staggering 4,545,799 hours, with the best Dota 2 streamers also receiving plenty of viewership and attention during the tournament. So it’s simple to assume there is no need to worry about Dota 2 dying… Dota 2 isn’t dying.
Aside from The International, countless smaller competitions are littering the Dota 2 landscape yearly. It’s a diverse, dynamic, and vibrant landscape that remains highly populated and massively valuable for all those involved.
So, is Dota 2 dying? Not according to these figures.
The Opinions of the Internet
Ultimately, while the numbers speak for themselves, there are plenty of claims to be made by those dwelling amongst the vastness of the internet.
In June of 2021, Esports.net published a comprehensive review of the platform, authored by a self-proclaimed ten-year-long Dota 2 fan. This firsthand insight into the state of Dota 2 in 2021 was somewhat invaluable, offering up information as to why Dota 2 is dying.
There were claims that the player base for Dota 2 is ‘cyclical’, with many players engaging with Dota 2, falling off, and returning a few months later. Reportedly, more players are leaving Dota 2 than joining, but they’re not going off to play another MOBA like League of Legends. In most cases, it’s a temporary departure before a valiant return.
Despite this, Dota 2 is a MOBA that many argue started it all off, since blossoming from a Warcraft mod created by the now infamous ‘icefrog’ to one of the most financially lucrative esports competitions. This, combined with its already long history of competitive gaming teams and infamous rise of the best Dota 2 teams and players, and even longer game history of nearly 20 years, it’s safe to assume, however, that even though there may be peaks and dips in viewership and interest at different stages, Dota 2 is a long-standing major player in the genre.
Here are a few key takeaways from this article:
If Valve wants to keep the Dota 2 player base strong, it’ll need to appeal to a younger audience.
The ‘league system’ present in Dota 2 needs to be refined and perfected to make the game more enjoyable.
Valve must focus on the vibrant Dota 2 esports scene to keep up the stream of publicity.
They’re fair statements in their own right, and ultimately, the author leans towards the positive side of the debate.
Once The International is over, the numbers may start to show a decline. Once the excitement of the tournament has dropped off, and Dota 2 betting slows down (among other things), the statistics may become a little more damning.
On the broad side of things, it doesn’t seem as though Dota 2 is dying – at least, not yet. 2023 Dota 2 tournaments and betting on Dota 2 will likely pull in millions of viewers and bets from around the globe. It is likely that we won’t need to ask, ‘is Dota 2 Dying? For quite some time.
Grant is a lifelong, multi-platform gamer with a passion for journalism and more than ten years' experience in the industry. He'll try any game once, and when he's not playing them, he's watching them, being as he is an avid esports fan.