Dota 2 player numbers drop sharply after introduction of Reborn client | PCGamesN

Dota 2 player numbers drop sharply after introduction of Reborn client

Things are not rosy over in the land of lane-pushing and tower-diving. A sharp decline in average player numbers has hit Dota 2 in the wake of the introduction of Reborn as the main client for the game. Via tracking site Steam Charts, there was a 16% drop in average players in September alone, the largest in the game's history by some 40,000. It also marks the lowest number of average players in a month since October 2014. There are a number of possible explanations.

The time of year is one unfriendly to games - time-rich students, teenagers and kids are returning to school, as is anyone else who works in the education sector. However, other years did not see a similar drop and other games haven't observed such a significant impact this year either. While it's true that those sectors make up a large portion of Dota's playerbase, a drop of this size would require half the angry teens of the western world to get banned from Steam in one go, and I haven't executed that phase of my plan yet.

Reborn itself is also shouldering some blame. The Dota subreddit is still packed with complaints every day about bugs, exploits and real-game situations where they're occuring. Most recently Valve had to issue an update to fix broken hitboxes that were making enemy heroes, creeps and neutrals difficult to click on in a pinch. There's serious problems with specific visual effects being visible in fog of war, revealing the location of enemies. With enjoyment of a MOBA already balanced on a knife edge, it's easy to imagine players quitting in frustration when these problems occur.

It's also worth noting that 2015 as a whole has seen a flattening of Dota 2's popularity curve. While the game has steadily grown month on month since 2012 up until now, it seemed to peak at around 600k average players in February/March of this year. Since then it's sat steady in the mid 500,000s, other than another spike in August, likely off the back of TI5 hype. Doomsayers can go home, the game is hardly dying, but may have hit a glass ceiling for the time being.

Then there's the game itself. The last patch cycle was definitely too long, with everyone ready to move on by the end of TI5. That's fairly normal, but, at least to me, the want from the community for changes seemed far greater this time around - not least because of the mine-laying Techies. However, rather than the usual big TI patch that introduces a new hero and changes some of the very building blocks of the game itself, a balance patch was issued, with larger changes promised for after the Frankfurt Major. These patches are usually so significant that they draw interested eyes from all over gaming to see how one of the oldest and best competitive games in the world is reinventing itself this year - that hasn't happened, yet.

So what does it mean? Nothing, yet. If the game sees another big drop, more investigation will be needed to see where these players are going. Plus, Valve's next big impact on the game, probably the post-Frankfurt patch, will be a key moment to see if Dota can still draw public attention. Frankfurt itself will play a role also: an exciting tournament always inspires more players into a game. We'll keep on eye on it but in the mean time, have any of you recently jumped out (or in) to Dota 2?

Thanks, NeoGAF.

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neo606 avatarjon_hill987 avatarBen Barrett avatarAnakhoresis avatarJenks avatarwoodkami avatar
woodkami Avatar
2 Years ago

\is it really only Dota 2? You should do a comparison with i.e. CS:GO.

Ben Barrett Avatar
2 Years ago

CSGO (and other games, as stated in the article) have seen VERY small back-to-school drops

neo606 Avatar
2 Years ago

Man I still haven't gotten into MOBAs, seem so simple and boring... I dunno... at least FPS have twitch based combat...

Anakhoresis Avatar
2 Years ago

I feel like if you say MOBAs are 'simple' then you really don't have much idea about them, or what you think is complex is confusing. I mean, MOBAs don't tend to be my cup of tea, but compared to an FPS, any MOBA is pretty dang complicated in terms of having to know maps, mob stats, character abilities (your own and to be effective, everyone else's), etc...

That's a lot more complexity than most FPS games demand. As jon_hill987 said there are quite a few twitch-based situations in MOBAs as well. If you look at most highlights from competitions, they're highlights because someone twitched well.

Jenks Avatar
2 Years ago

You just listed 'knowing maps' as a reason mobas are more complicated than FPS.

jon_hill987 Avatar
2 Years ago

As does dota, you can't dodge a hook with your blink dagger without pretty good reactions.