Valve’s signature MOBA title DOTA 2 is not a game to be taken lightly as it is one of the most popular MOBAs on the market right now. Based on the original Warcraft III mod known as ‘Defence of the Ancients’, DOTA 2 is a 5 vs 5 online tower-defense strategy game well known for its steep learning curve and high stakes tournament. DOTA 2 is a grueling game of wits where the players are tested on their decision making, team coordination, and individual mechanical skills. With so much to learn and master, DOTA 2 is undoubtedly one of the hardest esports titles to ever exist.
DOTA 2 has consistently been one of the most played games on Steam for a long time, and although it caters to a very loyal fanbase, the game has seen massive drops in its player base over time. Despite the fact that DOTA 2 is quoted to be one of the most addictive titles to get into, things get hard for newer players when they decide to give this MOBA ago. According to analysts and Steam Charts, DOTA 2 in recent times has been losing out on average and peak player counts with a severe lack of new unique users.
The DOTA 2 community has pointed out many reasons which might have caused the game to stagnate over time and lead to its inevitable fall in player base and lack of newer players. Today, we are going to take an in-depth look into some of the major arguments put forward by the community.
Lack of in-game content
Back in the days, Valve used to churn out a lot of original in-game content for the Dota 2 fans. In-game events were the center of attention. Events like the Diretide, Dark Moon, and Frostivus kept the players engaged with fun mini-games/custom games and rewarded them with in-game items to make their time worthwhile. Recently, the player base has been missing out on such events which makes the game way less engaging.
Steep learning curve
The hardest part of DOTA 2 is getting into it. DOTA 2 is not at all newbie-friendly as the game takes years of gameplay to master and even the professionals struggle to master every aspect of the game. That being said, Valve has tried its best to simplify DOTA 2 over multiple patches but the steep learning curve which still prevails acts as a barrier for newer players to completely enjoy the game.
DOTA 2 is an extremely competitive game which is evident from tournaments like The International, where the stakes are insanely high because the prize pool ranges in millions of dollars. When you consider a game to be this competitive, the community reciprocates the same feelings. The DOTA 2 community is an extremely fierce and competitive one in nature and the newer players who decide to try the game face the outcome in the form of in-game toxicity. Players aren’t encouraged to learn the game when they mess up during their initiation process, they are asked to quit DOTA 2 and play games like Mario instead, this leads to newer players hanging up on DOTA 2 even before they can get into it.
How many times have you had a good laning phase only to get destroyed by a smurf playing Meepo who is already rampaging around the map before you could pick up your first item? The problem with smurfing has been a long existent one in DOTA 2 and despite the efforts of Valve to curb it, it continues to haunt newer players who are just trying to enjoy games at their own skill level.
Overly Frequent Updates
IceFrog has been doing an excellent job over the years keeping the game of DOTA 2 updated and has been consistently rolling out patches to balance all the aspects of the game. While the work he is doing is commendable, the frequency of updates is an extremely controversial topic altogether. Players have to adjust their heroes and playstyles to suit the meta changes every time a new patch is launched. This becomes a massive problem when the patch lands in-between tournament schedules and weeks after the launch of previous patches. Even for the newer players, keeping up with the frequency of updates is an insane task at hand and they end up dropping the game as a result.
Lack of marketing
One of the primary reasons for the rise of Riot Game’s League of Legends (another popular MOBA title competing with DOTA 2) is the fact that Riot has invested a lot in their advertisement and marketing drives. Flashy tournaments with insane opening ceremonies, great music videos filled with professional tier animations, and quality content focused around the game are some of the reasons why LoL has effectively maintained its popularity over time and still remains to do so. Valve on the other hand barely cares about its marketing for DOTA 2 and even for tournaments like The Internationals, Valve simply depends on crowdfunding via Battle Pass for the prize pool and totally ignores any well-initiated marketing campaigns to boost the popularity of the tournament and bring in new players.
In conclusion, we can only hope that Valve finally puts effort to retain old players and make the game more welcoming to the newer ones. Improved smurf detection, the reintroduction of custom game-based special events and better marketing are some of the better things every DOTA 2 player can wish for and expect from gaming industry giants such as Valve.