Why is Dota 2 Such a Popular Game?

| | Author
Why is Dota 2 Such a Popular Game?

We take a look at 4 factors that have kept Dota 2 on the Steam Charts for the last decade.

With almost 1,300,000 players at its all-time peak according to Steam Charts, Dota 2 is one of the most popular games today. This multi-player online battle arena game (MOBA) is a sequel to the Warcraft III mod Defense of the Ancients – but it fast outstripped the original mod’s popularity.

Just one month after its official release in 2013, Dota 2 was the most played game on Steam. It remained the platform’s most concurrently played game for over four years, and a recent update – combined with the launch of a Netflix anime based on the game – means it’s back in the news, as well as on our screens.

So, why exactly is Dota 2 so enduringly popular? We explore how this game has captured our attention for almost 10 years.

1. The rise of esports betting

Dota 2 is popular with video game players the world over – but that’s not all. It’s also become increasingly popular with online gamblers. Dota 2 betting is widely considered to be a pillar of the esports world. Whether people are placing wagers on the winner of a global gaming tournament, or betting on the final score.

As we saw during the inaugural Fortnite World Cup in 2019, esports betting has helped video games shake off their anti-social reputation. Instead, they’ve become a multi-billion-dollar industry that can keep millions of people glued to the action for days at a time.

2. It’s completely free

Another key factor that has consistently driven the popularity of Dota 2 is the fact it’s completely free to download. Making it much more accessible than other games on the market.

Although some video games are notionally free, they often encourage players to make in-game purchases to upgrade their experience. In some cases, it’s actually impossible to complete the game without buying additional equipment, characters, capabilities, or levels.

In Dota 2, no such purchases are necessary. It’s possible to buy cosmetic upgrades that affect the appearance of your gameplay, but players who choose to invest in these won’t be at a strategic advantage. It’s a true level playing field. Plus, you’re just as likely to snag plenty of them as you play.

3. It’s a team game

They say that teamwork makes the dream work – and that certainly seems to be the case with Dota 2. Because the game is multiplayer, it enables people to play alongside their close friends or connect with other players from all over the world.

The sense of community is a vital aspect of many game franchises. The collaborative aspect has cemented the success of tournaments, social media livestreams, and chatty Youtube channels, all of which make sure there’s an ongoing dialogue about Dota 2.

Not only does this help to drum up excitement for new upgrades or competitions, but it also means there are plenty of resources available for first-time players.

4. The gameplay is rewarding

If you heard anything about Dota 2 before playing it for yourself, it was probably from someone discussing the game’s steep learning curve. For some players, the complexity of the game is off-putting – but for many more, it’s its USP.

Because the strategic gameplay can be challenging, this makes it hugely rewarding. It also means that all players can be fully engaged, even when playing as part of an experienced team.

Corey Pollack
Corey is a team member of one of the world's largest esports organizations. Corey is also the founder of Wave Digital Media, one of Canada's 60 fastest growing companies. You can learn more about Corey via our About page.