With around half a million players at any one time — trailing only PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds on Steam — Dota 2 isn’t exactly dying. But its player base is dwindling, and recent changes like biweekly updates and Dota Plus may not be enough to reverse the trend.
That’s the opinion expressed by SuperData, which has tracked Dota 2’s monthly player count over the past two years, which shows the game peaking around the time of the 7.0 update in late 2016 and declining steadily ever since. While Valve doesn’t reveal monthly player count, it does show current count and 24-hour peaks for all its games, and that, along with the data from Steam Charts, seem to back up the basics of SuperData’s claim. Steam Charts establishes Dota 2’s highest daily peak at 1,291,328 concurrent players in February 2016; it’s currently at 733,214, a 43% drop.
While SuperData doesn’t give any reason for the drop in players, it might just be the typical aging curve of the game, which includes other, newer, games taking some of its audience. That includes both newer MOBAs like Smite and Heroes of the Storm, as well as other competitive multiplayer games. And, of course, there are the battle royale games, like PUBG and Fortnite: Battle Royale, which are likely draining players away from everything else out there.
On the bright side, SuperData thinks Dota Plus can provide a more steady revenue stream for the game, which it says brought in $68 million in May from sales of the Battle Pass but only $24 million in November. Here’s another thought: Maybe Valve’s need for steadier income from its games is the reason Artifact will have a fixed price instead of being free-to-play.