Dota 2 is one of the most prestigious esports in the world. In the MOBA genre, it’s second only to League of Legends and still has a player base above eight million. However, the number of people who play Dota 2 on a regular basis is rapidly decreasing. Here’s my take on the situation.
The Problem with MOBA Games
MOBA games are different from any other game genre you will play, and in most cases a lot more complex. This complexity makes Dota 2 both fascinating but also extremely difficult to master. For most people, the amount of time and effort it takes to learn the game even at its most basic level is simply not worth it. Why dedicate more than one thousand hours to a title that tends to be quite frustrating at times, when you can simply play something else?
Shooters offer you the chance to do something right away. You know what you need to do: shoot your opponents and take objectives with your team. That’s it. Of course, along the way you start to realize that things can get very sophisticated if you want to master the game, but the entry level is low enough to allow a large number of people in.
With MOBA games, that’s not the case. In fact, it’s the exact opposite. Over one hundred heroes with four or more abilities per hero, coupled with hundreds of items and game concepts make Dota 2 one of the most difficult titles to learn in all of gaming. If you do the math, you get to somewhere around 800-1000 notions. And that’s only the start. That’s what’s required to grasp the game and its most basic level. So you need around 1000 – 1500 hours of play to reach a pathetic MMR of 2500, give or take.
The Fun Killer
For most people, what kills all the fun is precisely what the developers are hoping will increase it: changes. Significant Dota 2 patches come just a few times each year. But when they come, they introduce hundreds of changes. For someone who’s behind the curve and is already struggling to learn how the game works, patches are a horrible experience. All of a sudden, you don’t know what game you are playing anymore.
Just look at the latest major patch: 60 new items, two new heroes, dozens of item changes, hundreds of hero changes and reworks. This is absurd. When you see something like this, the whole thing starts to feel like work. And when there’s also a lot of pain involved because of all the problematic people that you meet, the fun / pain ratio gets so low that only the most hardcore players will stick around.
Dota 2 needs much better tutorials and a simplification of its system. The developers should either launch one big patch per year or per season, but then stop making changes in a disruptive way. Having your strategy or hero ruined after you’ve worked so hard to master them is entirely demotivating.
Image courtesy of The Versed / Valve Corporation