Most MOBAs let you play them for free, but that doesn’t mean you can’t splash a little money their way if you fancy it. Funded by microtransactions, MOBAs have stores stocked full of new characters, costumes, and helpful boosters designed to make your time with them even better.
Not sure if you should play LoL or Dota? Make a choice with our guide to the best MOBAs.
But if you were going to really dedicate yourself to a MOBA – and I really do mean dedicate – just how much would it cost you to buy everything? I’m talking the works – everything in the official store. I decided to do maths for the first time since I was at school and add up the costs of four of the most popular MOBAs: Heroes of the Storm, Dota 2, League of Legends, and Smite. By doing so I now know which is the most expensive MOBA of them all.
Remember: this is the price of these MOBAs as they are right now in June 2017. The developers of these games are constantly adding new items and reducing the cost of old ones, so this could well be a few bucks out by the end of the year.
Valve’s Dota 2 works a little differently from many MOBAs in that its massive 113-hero roster is available free to all players. Valve’s approach means that players cannot buy power – if a particular character becomes strong in the meta, every player will always have access to them.
Rather than buying the heroes themselves, the main purchase options in Dota 2 is clothing for your heroes. These come in sets, and each character has a handful of different sets available. If you bought every single hero set, you’d be emptying your bank account of $1,838.70/£1,478.21.
There are plenty of other things you can buy in Dota 2, too. If you’d like to buy all the Treasures, which contain cosmetic items, you’ll need to hand over $107.62/£86.21. The small selection of Tools that can be used to socket items with upgrades costs $18.88/£15.19. If you’d like to jazz up your herd of item-carrying Couriers, you’ll be spending $205.67/£165.87 for the complete collection. To customise you summonable Sentry and Observer Wards that help out on the battlefield, you’ll have to part with $66.86/£53.78.
But wait, there’s more! Dota 2 also allows you to customise the game with new Announcers that provide a variety of themed and comedy voice-overs in matches. The whole set costs $160.32/£128.78. And if you really want to take customisation the whole way, you’ll want the music packs, which tally up to $51.91/£41.68 in total. Don’t forget those themed HUDs that collectively cost $137.10/£109.96, and of course the Loading Screens, which come in at $26.40/£21.17 for the lot. Oh, plus the chat emoticons for $1.99/£1.59, and everything in the Pro Shop for $44.76/£35.82.
And so we finally arrive at the total cost of Dota 2: a whooping $2,660.21/£2,138.26.
League of Legends
League of Legends is the longest running of all the MOBAs we’re comparing, and certainly the most popular. With 136 Champions, LoL’s character roster is huge, and each one needs to be purchased by players in order to use (unless they’re on free rotation). Champions can be cheap, but others are astonishingly expensive. To buy the lot of them, you’ll need 103,674 RP.
Yeah, League of Legends uses RP, a bespoke currency. You can buy it in bundles of 650 RP for $5.00, making each cent worth 1.3 RP. So for all your Champions, you’re going to need $797.49. If you hang out on the other side of the pond, 1p is worth 1.8 RP, so you’ll be spending £575.97.
Champions come all in kinds of price brackets. The most common by far is 975 RP, so £5.42/$7.50 per Champion. But they can come in as low as 260 RP (£1.44/$2.00) or at the nice middle ground of 790 RP (£4.39/$6.08).
To get every skin for every Champion, you’ll need to spend 491,909 RP, or around $3,783.92/£2,732.83. Skins are actually League of Legends’ biggest money pullers, costing as much as 3250 RP (£18.06/$25.00). Generally, though, you’ll be looking at 975 RP bracket (£5.42/$7.50).
Like Dota 2 and other MOBAs, League of Legends has a variety of other convenience items you can pick up. You’ll need 78,615 RP for all these optional extras, such as Summoner Icons, Ward skins, XP boosters, and extra rune pages. That’s $604.73/£436.75. There’s also a series of bundles you can pick up, which will set you back 21,800 RP, or $167.69/£121.11.
So that brings League of Legends’ total price in at $5,353.83/£3,866.65, or 695,998 RP.
Heroes of the Storm
Blizzard’s Heroes of the Storm is young compared to other games in the MOBA sphere, but during its first two years it’s amassed a tidy inventory. Right now, the game has 66 different heroes, all with a huge collection of skins, mounts, voice lines, and emojis.
In a previous life, Heroes of the Storm charged for every item with real-world currency. Since the recent 2.0 upgrade, however, the way you buy things has radically changed. Now you must first buy gems, which are akin to LoL’s RP. Not only that, but gems can only be used to buy heroes, loot chests, stimpacks, and a small selection of skins and mounts. The vast majority of cosmetics must be purchased using shards, which can only be found in loot boxes, and thus have no concrete value.
Since the only things that can realistically be costed are items that are bought using gems, our price will be concluded from the game’s 66 heroes, the slim set of skins, mounts, and stimpacks, plus one each of the available loot chest bundles.
Characters range from 250 to 750 gems each. All 66 come in at 39,275 gems, making it $392.75/£327.29 for a full roster of heroes.
There are currently three mounts available to purchase with gems, which will put you back 895 gems. There are five very snazzy skins, too, which will cost you 1,260 gems.
Heroes of the Storm offers up Stimpacks which boost your XP and gold income. They come in three variants: the 7-day, 30-day, and 360-day, priced 400, 1,000, and 9,000 gems respectively.
This makes the total cost of Heroes of the Storm, right at this second, 59,430 gems. Gems are purchased in bundles: 300 for £2.49 in the UK, and 500 for $4.99 in the US. Using those prices, buying every purchasable item in Heroes 2.0 costs $594.30/£495.25.
It’s important to remember that, because of Heroes’ in-game currencies system, this figure only accounts for a small percentage of the game’s total inventory. To buy the many, many other items like skins and voice lines, you’ll need to either play and collect a huge number of loot chests to gather shards, or purchase an indeterminable amount of loot chests with gems.
Finally we have Smite, Hi-Rez’s god-battling MOBA. Its microtransaction store is almost exclusively stocked with gods and skins, with just a small handful of player avatars, voice lines, and emotes.
Items are priced in gems, Smite’s premium currency, and a bundle of 200 gems will cost you $4.99/£3.50. 200 gems is also the flat-rate cost of gods, so it’s easy to see how much a new character will set you back.
To buy every one of the game’s current 88 gods, plus all their skins, you’ll need to part with 223,650 gems. That’s the equivalent of $5,591.25/£3,923.68. To break that down a little, 16,600 gems ($415.00/£291.22) are required for the gods themselves, and 207,050 gems ($5,176.25/£3,632.45) for the skins. You can actually save yourself some cash by purchasing the Ultimate God Pack for $29.99/£20.99, which unlocks all current and future gods, and is a much better deal than the multiple hundreds of dollars that you’d need to collect them on a one-by-one basis.
The collection of other items – avatars, voices, and emotes – will set you back 18,615 gems ($465.37/£326.57).
All purchases combined, Smite’s overall total is 242,265 gems, or $6,056.63/£4,250.26.
Which is the most expensive MOBA?
And so, the winner of the ‘Most Expensive MOBA Award’ is: Smite! It’s a whole $702.80/£383.61 more expensive than its closest rival, which makes it the clear winner.
However, when it comes down to individual item purchases, Heroes of the Storm is notably a few pounds/dollars more expensive. A hero typically costs 750 gems, making them $7.50/£6.25, which is a fair increase over Smite’s $4.99/£3.50. The Heroes’ 2.0 pricing structure has lowered the overall cost of buying ‘everything’ due to having the vast majority of items cost shards, which cannot be directly purchased. If you wanted to buy your way to everything in Heroes, it would require a huge amount of loot chest purchases (and a bit of luck) to gain the required shards, and that almost certainly costs more than Smite’s colossal overall price. So while Smite asks for more money upfront, long-term purchasing players may find that Heroes of the Storm is actually the most wallet-draining game.