Streamer reactions raise the question

Is Dota 2 really dying?

Dota 2
Player base stats

Steam player stats. (Image credit: Valve Corporation)

Even though Dota 2 is still the second most played game in terms of player base, the question of whether it will last for another 2-3 years is before us once again.

In the last couple of months, several Dota 2 YouTubers and streamers made videos on their take of why the game is losing its player base, and why people are quitting.

A 6-Month Rut for Dota 2

Dota 2 player stats

Image credit: steamcharts.com/app/570

For the first time ever, Dota 2 has had a negative player gain for 6 months in a row. The quarantine benefited the game a bit and it scored almost 100k new players (or smurfs, we can't really tell) in just 3 months, but after those 3 months, it has been going down towards a negative 100k.

Has the game become boring? Not enough attention from developers? Bad new player's experience? Aging player base?

A lot of questions have been asked during this period about the reasoning behind the downfall but there have been too many theories so there has not been a final answer on the topic.

We will cover the most important elements and try to answer the question, Is Dota really dying?

Loading screen from Dota

Image credit: Blizzard Entertainment

Aging Player Base

Dota 2 doesn't consist only of the players that migrated from the original DotA version but they do sum up a pretty big portion of the player base.

Most of the players that played the original game are from the '90s which means that right now, they are in a portion of their lives where they are either working, forming a family, or doing anything similar to what a person would do approaching their 30s. This gives them less time to spend on the game they already spent 10+ years on.

A lot of those players have quit the game for good because of those same reasons.

Smurfing

One of the original smurfs. :)

Image credit: smurfs.com

It might not be the main reason, but it is definitely up there – Smurfing!

One of the main topics these last years, and probably the most complicated thing to fix for any Dota 2 developer is the issue when players lose their will to play the game because of smurfs.

Smurfs have become the norm and are present in every game. Devs would have to be very creative and innovative the fix this certain issue. Otherwise, a 2-day old new player encounters a player who has played the game for multiple years. Naturally, the new player would get frustrated and quit.

Dota 2 is a competitive game where you hate to lose and you love to grind. It's not a secret that losing streaks make you not play the game whereas win streaks make you addicted for more.

One of the main Dota community portals, Reddit's r/dota2 subreddit, is one of the regular platforms where people complain about encountering smurfs for multiple games in a row.

Valve as a developer and owner of the game has been trying to fix the issue for the last 12 months but it seems like no progress has been made on the topic or it's so minor that it's made no difference.

Advertisement and Exposure

Purge's guide

Image credit: tortedelini.com

Dota 2 has never relied on advertisements to gain new players. Instead, Valve has used a different plan to gain exposure.

A lot of the people heard about Dota 2 when The International, the esports tournament with the largest prize on the line – more than $40 million this year – got noticed worldwide by the media.

READ MORE: The International 10 Hits $40 Million in Prize Money!

Having a tournament with a prize this big is a huge flex and Dota 2 itself has been relying on it for exposure for multiple years. But... that's about it. Zero other marketing effort.

Compared to Dota 2, League of Legends developer Riot Games is regularly promoting the game in various ways which a huge influx of new players and makes the game rank among the Top 5 most played globally.

There have been recent talks about Valve launching a marketing campaign about Dota 2 once they "fix" the current state. However, the date of the campaign might be in early 2021 and some wonder if this might be too late.

Stress

Dota 2 payer camera footage

Image credit: Envy Blog

Stress is labeled as an emotional or physical tension that does bad things to our body and mind.

People have various ways to deal with stress in the everyday life – some go hiking in the mountains, some take long walks or meditate.

But there are also people that play games to escape their reality, and the last thing they want in their games is tilting, raging, and overall toxic behavior.

Dota 2 is a stressful game. Many of its players have a dream to go pro or are really bothered with their rank and want to improve it, so losing is not a thing they take lightly.

One of the things people complain about is the amount of toxic behavior they encounter in however little hours they've played, hoping to have a relaxed evening and a fun game.

So: Is Dota 2 really dying?

Thumbnail of a YouTube video.

Image credit: elwono via YouTube

In short: No.

Even after the bad period and dwindling player numbers, Dota 2 still has 660k players on its peak periods of the day (EU). And with the recent update, Valve has taken this issue quite seriously and will not let their favorite game (at least in terms of revenue) go down that easily.

Every patch is slowly fixing the smurf issues, the game is slowly giving back to its players (DIRETIDE IS COMING!), and the Dota 2 developer team has promised to give information about what they are doing more often.

Overall, there might be light at the end of the tunnel, and memes might not be the only thing that can save the game.

Dota 2 will eventually fade away, but that moment is years from now.

Stay tuned for more Dota 2 news and check out EarlyGame or the EarlyGame YouTube channel for everything gaming and esports.

Stefan Nikolovski

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