Exploring The Dota 2 Versus League Of Legends Popularity And Profitability Gap

Published: Sep 23, 2015 - Last Updated: Jul 11, 2023

The eSports industry is bigger than ever.

With the diversity of existing games, everyone can find their perfect fit – whether you’re a classic strategy lover, first person shooter addict, or enjoy fighting with your team in an online battle arena.

However, it is clear that the popularity in terms of active players is different from game to game. MOBA, or Multiplayer Online Battle Arena, type games are in the lead and currently attract the most players.

The two most successful ones – Dota 2 and League of Legends – are growing in popularity with each passing day.

But why do some players prefer one while others prefer the other?

Popularity and profitability

Both are typical MOBA games where two groups of five players each pick from a broad variety of heroes/champions and try to destroy the opponent’s base. And yet the number of participants and available funds differ quite a bit.

League of Legends, with over 7.5 million members playing at the same time during each day’s peak, is way ahead of Dota 2’s one million.

On the other hand, the $18 million prize pool of this year’s the International Dota 2 Championship is nine times higher than the biggest League of Legends event, the World Championships, which has a prize pool of $2 million.

Then again, looking at the “money making” aspect for their creators – League of Legends’ Riot Games and Dota 2’s Valve – the difference is immense. Dota 2 makes $18 million per month for Valve, but League of Legends makes that much every five days.

So what could be a possible explanation for these discrepancies?

Different taste, different approach

Taking into consideration that Dota 2 was released in middle of 2013, almost four years after League of Legends, which was released in October 2009, it started growing its fan base much later.

Including the “word of mouth” principle, friends of friends heard of League of Legends way before Dota 2. As for the players’ personal tastes, looking at the basic appearance of the game, it is apparent that League of Legends is a “brighter” game compared to Dota 2’s darker look.

This could be one of the reasons why League of Legends is so much bigger in Asia, especially when thinking about the stereotype that Asians are more inclined to brightly-colored things, and to a friendlier, more cartoonish look.

Players catch on to League of Legends more quickly

According to the gaming community, League of Legends has an easier learning curve when it comes to entering the game as a new player. It does make sense that players want to enjoy the game and don’t want to spend too much time analyzing how to play before the actual fun part can begin.

With some specifics like fewer items and activities to choose from it, League of Legends is easier to get into, which of course does not necessarily mean that less skill is needed to master the game.

In terms of hardware, League of Legends is less demanding than Dota 2 – for example, League of Legends will run on a 2 GHz processor, while Dota 2‘s minimum specs demand at least a 3 GHz processor.

That matters a lot in Asia especially, where gamers are often playing on internet cafe PCs that aren’t necessarily top-notch gaming rigs. Part of the popularity of League of Legends in Asia may just be because the game runs more smoothly on low-quality and underpowered hardware, so even if your local internet cafe hasn’t upgraded in years, their PCs still will be able to run it with no problems.

A major thing coming up in the area of eSports – specifically in the MOBA world – is the recently announced Dota 2 Reborn. It remains to be seen how it will impact the popularity development of League of Legends and Dota 2.

Image Onnes / Shutterstock.com

Dejan Zalik

Since: September 12, 2015

Dejan has been involved in gaming for over 10 years. Moving from classics like Diablo 2, Lineage 2, and Warcraft 3, he found his passion in Dota 2, which he’s been playing ever since. He also likes to keep up to date by reading and writing about whatever is happening in the industry.

See all articles from this author