Why Is Dota 2 The Biggest Game On Steam?

By Michael Cohen on September 11th, 2013 at 5:00 pm.


This is the first part in a new series looking at contemporary multiplayer gaming and the e-sports phenomenon.

Since Steam’s inception, just a handful of marvellous gems have topped the Steam Stats page. Games like Counter-Strike, Team Fortress 2 and Sid Meier’s Civilization V have earned accolades, snared players in their thousands, and then hovered around the 50,000 mark. For Valve’s Dota 2, now just wrapping its beta period, that figure currently sits at 500,000 concurrent users (not including China and South Korea). Five hundred thousand!

More users play Dota 2 simultaneously than the nine other ranked games combined and it is only going up from there. Why?

Despite the growing popularity of Dota 2, there are still many people on the outside who peer in on those multiplayer matches and just don’t understand what they’re seeing. Is it a real-time strategy game? Is it like an episodic form of a MMO? Is it something entirely new? Or something old and misunderstood? A little of all of these things, and I think that’s part of why it is so popular: it’s a broad recipe.

THE IDEA

In essence, ARTS stands for Arena Real-Time Strategy game, which is a brief description of the elements of this offshoot of the strategy genre. Dota 2 is a team-based multiplayer game that revolves around the concept of tri-lane tug-of-war style gameplay. In short: a team of five players choose specific heroes to overcome their five-strong foes on the other side of the map. Automatic waves of minions called “creeps” spawn consistently to help these heroes push their respective lanes; which are roads that lead up to the enemy base. Each hero has a selection of four abilities to both work cooperatively with one another as well as to overcome their foes through a variety of spells or direct physical attacks. Destruction of tiered defensive towers on these “roads”, as well the death of your foes, earns you a reward of gold to which you can purchase items to further bolster your character’s capabilities. Fairly straightforward, right?

Though the concept is simple, the amount of knowledge about the game, the mechanics, each heroes’ capabilities, limitations, exceptions, and strengths can be overwhelming. Arguably, it’s this almanac of knowledge that provides much of the appeal of playing. There’s so much to know. Dota is multileveled in its difficulty and understanding of that difficulty. It is a delicious learning curve, and it’s that curve which grips players from their first moments. Initially, you learn how to lane; a beginning phase of tiptoeing near foes to hit creeps (known as farming). Later on, ganking (grouping up with allies to jump on foes who are away from their team) becomes an important part in gaining an advantage over your foes, experience and gold-wise. Later in the game, pushing and full team engagements become a hectic, but exhilarating sequence of pulling off combinations of abilties, strategy and ultimately: communication. This is only an outline of how each match progresses without going into of techniques and roles within these phases, but the point is: this is a game which rewards persistence. Like the best games, the basics are easily grasped, while the mastery of far off, thanks to the vast array of possibilities its rules create.


Terms such as “stacking” and “pulling jungle creeps”, “initiation” and “counter-initiation” and “denying your own creeps” all refer to the tiny sets of actions you can master as you play, and each helps you earn small advantages during these sections of each match that could lead to large victories. Regardless of how much you know about the game, the overall appeal of Dota 2 and ARTS/MOBA games in general is the feeling of coming together with friends or strangers and working towards a common goal of overcoming adversity and executing what you know in a real and challenging setting. For players in this genre, no other game type can invoke that feeling of achievement where you spent 20 to 30 minutes farming, ganking and the result of coming out of a huge 5 vs. 5 hero fight with you pushing straight through the middle path into their base to destroy their Ancient (final base establishment to defeat your opponents). That sense of victory is another reason why Dota 2 is so big. But we’ll come back to that.

THE SERVICE

Valve’s dedication to keeping Dota 2 just as similar to Defense of the Ancients – the original Warcraft mode on which it is based – and to their enhancement and facilitation of the contemporary shift of competitive games into eSports, is what makes them and their players not just fans of the game, but devotees. Valve are providing their players with a deeply featured service, and that makes playing the game – committing to it long-term – all the easier.

While Dota 2 remains, mostly, unchanged as DotA, the features the client has to offer are formidable, and perhaps offer some insight into how the game has grasped such a huge and persistent playerbase. For new users logging into the client for the first-time, they are offered more than just the game; they are given an array of tools to enjoy Dota 2 on any level of interest: spectating, matchmaking with the A.I or other players, finding a game to suit their skills. In addition, features are offered for newcomers easing them into the series of depths that is of Dota 2’s difficulty such as the tutorial areas, in-game specific hero and item guides and a table of information for all the heroes and items. The utility of offering such a diverse base of areas for the user to engage with allows them to be as playful or serious as they want to be. In terms of spectating, a person can watch a friend’s match with a small two-minute delay, directly in-game and can see every cursor and camera movement of the friend, their vision and what menus they access.

It’s almost as if you were at home with your friend watching him or her play! For tournament matches, you can hear the shoutcasters drumming up excitement directly within the client, offering easy-to-read in-game stats of the players’ heroes net worth, experience gains and various important graphs to help you better understand the situation and match. It’s these fine touches that keep players returning and relying on the Dota 2 client for all of their interest in eSports and Dota 2. For users disinterested in eSports, the matchmaking system is greatly diversified. Ranging from solo queue (where you queue up only with other non-partied strangers) to specific regions and matchmaking preferences (All Random – where all the heroes are randomly chosen, Random Draft, Captain’s Mode, All Pick and Least Picked) a mode can be found for anyone depending on how dedicated they are to the game.

The fine balance between maintaining the unique quirks of Defense of the Ancients back when it was a custom game in WarCraft III, to updating its visuals and demonstration of abilities is a slow and steady process for Valve. Bugs that were once exploited during the game also emerged new strategies and dimensions to the original custom game and for some heroes. Strategies such as stacking the jungle creeps (so that more would spawn in one area, allowing a player to farm a specific camp faster and with a better reward) were once exploitation of the WarCraft III engine but then later became an integral part of the game and rectified to be more consistent and balanced. This is one of the foundational innovations of DotA and Dota 2, where interesting mishaps of interaction between heroes, due to how the WarCraft III engine mishandled certain interactions, become part of the game and improved for consistency. This same effect of community finding and exploitation is replicated in Dota 2, sometimes unintentionally, but also creating new strategies that were never once intended or could be replicated in the original DotA. A strong example of this is when professional player Dendi and the Pudge Hook/Chen combination was publicly shown, where, if coordinated exactly right, the hero Pudge can hook another hero to him as he is getting teleported back to base thanks to Chen’s ability (see video below):

Within that video are two bugs, one that will be repaired and the other offers an incredible combination that would require a lot of effort to pull off. Less fantastical bugs such as a type in the range of the Illuminate ability from the hero: Keeper of the Light seemed imbalanced, but instead of immediately rectifying the issue, developers started seeing the worth of giving such range to the ability and how much it impacted certain phases of the game. Balance remains a constant battle as the game aims to make all heroes viable working with one another rather than self-completing in their array of abilities. In keeping with their dedication to the original custom game, Valve hired IceFrog, the original developer of DotA back in 2005 (since the departure of Steve Freak), as their lead game designer. An assurance to long-time fans that the game would be recreated properly and also extended in the same tradition and goals that everyone has been familiar with since the early 2000s.

THE SPORT

Although Dota 2 honors its past, Valve looks to the future of competitive gaming to inform how the game should grow. Despite the company only hosting one major event a year; The International, their constant progress towards creating a constant flow of earnings to tournament organizers and teams is unlike any other. Cosmetic items such as team pennants, couriers created by the team organizations themselves, and tournament tickets to be able to watch exclusive tournament broadcasts within the Dota 2 client are sold for real money to fans in the virtual store. These virtual items create revenue for the team and an underground financial livelihood to help support organizations getting interested in Dota 2. For the customers who buy some of these items, they may be rewarded during broadcasts of their favourite players if they equip their pennants or bought an exclusive tournament ticket, earning them a chance to earn more items through randomized item drops. These forms of fundraising are also what raised the prize-pool of the international tournament: The International to a whopping 2.8 million dollars thanks to ideas such as the interactive compendium.


The compendium is a great display of both the amount of users who are generally interested in eSports but are also looking to support it. Valve has hit a fine line of finding rewards that appeal to the greater mass of their userbase and propelling funding of eSports major prizes through the players. Many tournament organizations rely on the ticket sales made through the Dota 2 store to support their causes and further propel opportunity for professional players. Instead of being at the forefront of funding entire seasons for their game, Valve aims to unify their playerbase with their client as an outlet to advertise both legitimate competitions and the broadcasters who aim to take eSports to an even higher professional level of earnings and marketable stature. Common players are starting to see how exciting competitive matches are and are getting behind it for the right reasons. Valve is a big part of that reason.

If eSports gains more and more popularity, so will interest in these games. That seems to be happening. Newcomers are starting to see the hype of each match, regardless of how unfamiliar they are with the game names and faces, because the right stories are being shown: the major cash prize, the epic tales of defeat and comebacks, the storylines of individual players and how far they’ve come and prepared for these matches. People are seeing an athleticism not in terms of physical achievement or gain, but in determination and dedication to perfecting their strategy, ability to perform and to outplay their foes. The height of these competitions is an adrenaline rush for viewers and fans of the game. eSports is marketing and with good marketing comes a new wave of curious folks. If you are going to ask why Dota 2 is so popular, you might as well ask why any sport is popular, and why that sport perpetuates. Football doesn’t get superceded and abandoned, it moves from generation to generation. Something similar is true here.

THE VICTORY

New people are getting interested all the time. For these newer players, Valve offers a variety of assistance in understanding the mechanics of Dota 2 through a structured tutorial system and limited hero pool mode (20 easy-to-understand heros are selected from a pool of over 100 for newcomers to learn and play) as well as in-game Dota 2 hero guides that you can subscribe and use directly in the game. Additionally, Valve has future modes coming such as mentoring, where more experienced players can mentor others similar to how they do in Team Fortress 2 as well as a last-hit single player mode where players can practice their “last-hitting”. It is mastering the skills of this game – and winning with the skills you’ve learned – that bring players their greatest pleasure.

Sadly, the ecology of ARTS games seems to attract trolls and aggressive players. Teaching these players to behave, while also rewarding people for cooperative play and good behavior, can be a finicky procedure. It’s perhaps a measure of DOTA 2′s understanding of this problem that it has retained players in spite of some anti-social atmospheres. In Dota 2, players are punished for aggressive language, trolling, abandoning matches early and also for failing to ready up for their match. Set punishments range according to the infraction: abusive language can have the player muted up to a week. Failing to ready up can be a 2-minute lock-out from queuing against for matches, while abandoning matches can lead up to a low-priority queue where one essentially plays for no points or earnings and are against other punished users. These steps in toning down the impulsive negative attitudes is just the starting point for Valve as they ramp up development of these details.

Dota 2′s size on Steam is also, of course, partly down to it being free. The genre that the original Dota inspired has proven this model across several games, and it is one of the most successful approaches to sustaining large multiplayer populations. (To raise the sport analogy again, if you have the equipment available, then anyone can play. You don’t have to pay to get in through the sportsfield gate.) As the game maintains its free-to-play status, so do the amount of people who consider and try the game out. Valve’s dice roll is its monetary system in which everything that is a part of the game is provided automatically: no real-money purchasing of buffs or elements, heroes to play or anything beyond cosmetics. Unlike in Team Fortress 2 where players can purchase weapons to offer more variability in play, all of Dota 2′s items are purely for aesthetic purposes, yet generate enough for community members to make a living off of it. Nearly all aesthetics in the shop are made by community members and earn a cut of the pay from Valve for each purchase. The idea of the community building off each other through either financially supporting eSports or custom item workshop artists further propels the omnipresent role of Valve and their outreach to all forms of users who access and use the workshop. Valve makes the game a fair playing field for all users, no matter how deep their pockets are, emphasizing just how free it is to play Dota 2.

THE REASON

The root of DOTA 2′s enormity, however, is perhaps due to the game, and the genre, already commanding an enduring hardcore audience. Without the hardcore to champion and sustain a game like this, it has nothing. During the early 2000s, Defense of the Ancient was amongst the most popular games to be played around the world, and part of Valve’s brilliance was in identifying that this was a vast, unseen community that required a well-funded developmental core to step in and make it whole. What Brood War was to the Koreans in terms of competitions, was rivaled by China’s adoration for Dota and WarCraft III.

This, perhaps, is the true answer: it is that passion for the game that has truly made it the biggest game on Steam. Without people, without absolutely devotees, no game like this could ever reach such heights. This is no casual game, after all. Valve understood that. Just as they did with Counter-Strike, and just as they likely will with other games.


Though Dota 2 has a late-start in this new global market compared to other strategy games, its approach and strategy from a business standpoint and a design perspective is careful and steady. It is, like so many games that evolve over time, something that is less like a product, and more like a series of events: were you there when X happened? It’s a tale you’ll tell other DOTA 2 players, if not your grandchildren. With heroes still left to port over and Valve continuing to churn out great ideas to ease players into the game, Valve is looking at a very good year ahead.

So too are DOTA 2 players. However many millions of them there may soon be.

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256 Comments »

  1. Paul says:

    I never played DOTA and never will. Just seeing stats of some of my friends with over thousand hours played is terrifying. I play games for the stories and experiences anyway.

    • Carlos Danger says:

      Managed about an hour before I uninstalled it from my Steam library, couldn’t make it through the tutorial even. Not my cup of tea I suppose. Also, E-Sport push it has is a bit of a turn-off. Watching people play video games has no appeal to me really though watching people watch people playing video games is mildly amusing.

      • Cerzi says:

        This is a pretty old fashioned viewpoint. There’s a big difference between merely watching people play video games, and watching the masters play highly competitive games against each other.

        • Carlos Danger says:

          Not really. It’s watching people doing something fairly pedestrian. I also don’t watch people play chess or bowl for the same reason, it is boring. I guess I am just unable to refer to people playing to video games as masters, well at least with a straight face.

          Edit. And yes, apparently I am bad at a game I never bothered to play, this is a enormous blow to my E-ego.

          • Kaiji says:

            So you’re saying that regardless of the required skill ceiling of any given video game, you will always scoff at the idea of calling anyone a master of said video game because of the fact that it’s a video game?

            I’ll be blunt… You uninstalled after an hour because you discovered you were very very bad at DotA, and instead of studying and practicing in order to improve and give the game a fair shot, you placated yourself by convincing yourself that the game would have been easy for you to play, but it’s just not your cup of tea.

            A lot of people make this mistake, and a lot of people miss out on what is very probably one of the most rewarding, demanding, intense, exciting competitive multiplayer games ever made.

            I’m not saying you’re wrong to stop playing after an hour. I’m saying you do not have sufficient knowledge to accurately conclude that playing DotA at a professional level is a trivial, throwaway achievement, and that you are wrong.

          • derbefrier says:

            it is possible he just didnt like it you know and it has nothing to do with his skill. you should hold back that angry fanboy inside of you if you want to be taken seriously. I dont like DOTA 2 really but I do enjoy the occasional game of LoL but I agree with his view point. That watching other people play video games is about as exciting as watching baseball or sports in general. It may be fun to play but horribly boring to watch.

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            darkChozo says:

            This may surprise you, but sometimes people don’t like things for genuine reasons. Sometimes those things will even be things you like!

            Madness, I know, but it turns out people have differing viewpoints and opinions or something.

          • Kaiji says:

            “And yes, apparently I am bad at a game I never bothered to play, this is a enormous blow to my E-ego.”

            It’s not about your e-ego. It’s about the validity of your claim that playing DotA at a pro level is a trivial, throwaway achievement. You’ve already admitted to having very little knowledge of the game, so it follows that your opinions on the game are not based on a reasonable base of knowledge, but rather stem from the fact that you’re disgruntled because you’re personally bad it.

            In a nutshell your opinion is “I’m bad at DotA, therefore DotA is easy and pointless”.

            Sorry if I come off as abrasive. It’s not that I care if you personally miss out on one of the best games available; it’s that I care if your ill-informed pouting dissuades others from giving it a fair shot.

          • aepervius says:

            Kajii let me blunt, sometimes it is not in people taste to do some stuff. I like to watch archery comeptition, and practice archery in competition (albeit at a low level). That would bore to death a lot of people. On the other hand I get arpidely bored to death wtching football match on TV, or watching DOTA or starcarft 2 game, be they by normal individual or by mega super hyper team master at it. That has NOTHING to do with being good or bad at it.

            You know taste, everybody have different one.

          • Kaiji says:

            @aepervius

            I know very little about archery. If I said “I tried archery once for about an hour and didn’t like it. Professional archery is a joke because all you’re doing is pointing an arrow at a target and letting go of the string. Anyone could do that”, I’m sure you’d have an issue with my opinion because it would be founded on bold arrogance and ignorance. This is basically the same stance Carlos has taken with DotA.

            I have no problem with him disliking the game. I have a problem with him saying that excelling at it is a trivial achievement. I hope I’ve been able to make my point clear enough for you to understand.

          • Sigh says:

            “I guess I am just unable to refer to people playing to video games as masters, well at least with a straight face.”

            I completely agree with Carlos. I too would have a hard time using the words “video games” and “masters” in the same sentence while keeping a straight face. And you know what, that is OK, we all value different things and we all don’t need to have 100% respect from the entire human race.

          • Kaiji says:

            @Sigh

            Absolutely. Snobbery from people who don’t have a reasonable understanding of the thing they’re being snobby about will always be prevalent in society.

            It’s not exclusive to gaming.

          • Phendron says:

            Kaiji is trying to say that platforms that can showcase human excellence or perfection should be at least respected if not applauded.

            You guys have the video game blinders on as a means to discredit and belittle real human achievement.

          • innociv says:

            Watching people Football is fairly pedastrian.

            All they’re doing is escorting a ball to a net.

          • Carlos Spicy Wiener says:

            See the thing is, (and what someone alluded to earlier) human beings ascribe value towards things DIFFERENTLY. Carlos Danger doesn’t like Dota 2. Alot of people like Dota 2. He may well think its a joke. Millions of play it on a day to day basis. But do you know what? Carlos Danger’s OPINION should in no way stop anyone who likes playing Dota 2 and will not reduce anyone’s level of fun derived from watching E-Sports. Carlos Danger’s discourse may be counter to the seemingly prevailing ‘Dota 2 is the greatest’ discourse, but neither what Carlos Danger says or how ever much Kaiji loves Dota 2 matters to anyone but themselves. Dota 2 might be the best game ever, it might not. It comes down to personal taste and a multitude of other factors. In regards to not valuing personal skill, does everyone go around admiring the skill it took to build their house? To design computer parts? To build roads? To create the city they live in? If I stopped and admired the skill it took to design a bus shelter, I would never get anywhere.

          • psyph3r says:

            Those masterful dota players just split 2.8 million dollars paid for in part by people watching the game. Straight face* 5 guys made more money that you will your entire life in 1 week…I’d like to see a million dollar prize being given for some trivial actions. wow…willful ignorance to the extreme.

          • Phendron says:

            Mr. Spicy, I think the internet is past arguing the merits of opinions, and has finally moved on to arguing opinions.

            Also, you may not spend half of your life being actively grateful for everything our race has done, but at the very least you probably don’t go around looking at adequate housing and say ‘wow what a load of crap, this house could have been a mansion or built into a boat or space station, the architect is wasting his life.’ And if you did do that, you’d likely get called a twat a lot.

          • crooon says:

            Kaiji made excellent points.
            The issue is not people liking different things, the issue is dismissing things you don’t like as something lesser than what you do like. THAT is the definition of not letting opinions be opinions. Not the other way around.

            The reason Carlos doesn’t like chess or bowling either is because he also doesn’t play either of those enough. If he did he would be well enough versed in the games to see and appreciate the nuances and where the real skill comes in, whether it’s smart play, strategic thinking, twitch reflexes, mere consistency or something else.
            I believe this is true of all games/sports/whatever you like to call them.

            I don’t like watching football (the one with the ball and the feet), because it’s simply 22 guys not having enough foresight to bring enough balls for everyone to play with, so they all have to chase after the same one.
            While this is the same as what Carlos did, I’m merely using it to illustrate the fact that I’ve never played football, and thus have never given it enough time to appreciate what’s really impressive about it, which I’m sure there are a lot of things. You can like different things, but there’s not one single competitive activity that won’t be impressive and masterful when watched by educated viewers.

            That is all.

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            Malibu Stacey says:

            Obvious troll should fuck off back to 4chan/SA/wherever obvious trolls reside these days.

          • Jenks says:

            “I also don’t watch people play chess or bowl for the same reason, it is boring”

            Spot on comparison.

        • limimi says:

          psyph3r: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aF8wLg5Asgo

          Also if you think splitting $3 million for doing something trivial is amazing, you should check out the stock market. There are a dozen reasons someone might get money from something, that doesn’t make it important or inherently worthwhile to the point where even people who don’t like it should suffer through it. Willful ignorance indeed.

        • Carighan Maconar says:

          Meh, just not interesting to watch.

          I mean sure, if I already enjoy watching people play games, then watching someone truly godlike at a game play is really inspiring.

          But on the flipside, I find Let’s Plays and such mind-boggling. It’s wasting time watching someone else play a video game instead of playing that game myself. Before you ask, no, I don’t watch sports on TV. :P

      • kalirion says:

        Yup, I’m the same way. Could never understand why so many people are into watching sports games of any type. Maybe figure skating, ’cause it’s purty, but that’s about it.

        I like reading sports manga though for whatever reason.

        Well, to each his own.

    • Cerzi says:

      Maybe part of the reason people have thousands of hours played of DOTA is that it offers its own unique stories and experiences?

      Unless you’re talking purely about single player narrative-driven stories, a game of DOTA has just as much potential, perhaps more, to tell a story as any multiplayer game.

      • Pan Vidla says:

        Hardly. Firstly, it’s way too mechanics-driven. I don’t know about you, but my favorite games of all time – Pathologic, VtmB Bloodlines and now Brothers – definitely don’t appeal to me because of their mechanics. It’s the atmosphere and the stories that they tell what I like the best about them. And second, it feels like such a waste of time. Not because it’s a videogame, of course, but because it requires you to invest some much time in learning an incredible amount information that has NO OTHER USE and is completely useless outside the game. If anything, I expect games not to only entertain me, but hopefully also enrich me in some way, not as a player, but as a human being.

        • DigitalParadox says:

          This seems to imply that you believe that mechanics do not make for their own sort of storytelling, when this is outright disproven by people’s experiences with games completely lacking a scripted narrative, such as FTL or Dwarf Fortress.

          • LionsPhil says:

            Both of those have a roleplaying element, especially DF with its long-form investment in your dwarves. Hell, comparing DF—which Toady builds as a story generator—to almost anything else in terms of generating narrative from mechanics is pretty much shenanigans.

            Show me DOTA2′s Boatmurdered.

          • Carbonated Dan says:

            phil you should watch navi’s matches from ti3

          • subedii says:

            Fountain murdered? :P

        • The_Great_Skratsby says:

          Which only says a lot about what you care for. Learning the intricacies of a game like Dota is a rewarding experience in itself (what practical benefit is there to learning about a fictional universe, none either), and as far as I’m concerned the stories generated from playing, be it matches closely won, daring moves or teamplay and so on and the player interaction part of it is different to any other competitive game out there, even if it’s no didactic narrative.

          Go figure.

        • shagohad says:

          i think the stories arent the same as a game like DayZ for example which get thier flavour from roleplaying (to some degree everyone roleplays) in Dota you dont get into the charachter of youre hero you just enjoy working as a team competitively (this is at any level, not just pro) and the stories come from the near saves, last minute comebacks, and epic pushes, much like they do from playing a sport, dismissing it based on mechanics is similar, from anyone who has played a game like rugby for example, its not the mechanical way the game was played that is the most memorable, but how as a team you triumph (epic run on sentence i know)

          i encourage people to get some frindes together and try Dota, I always thought it was a bit too e-sporty and douchy but have been pleasantly surprised to get into an enjoyable strategy game. The last time I had so much fun in RTS was CoH, there is a similar heart in mouth feel and moments of desperation in Dota

        • Cerzi says:

          I’m sorry but that’s a rather closed-minded stance, you’re essentially disregarding the whole concept of emergent storytelling in games, the notion that mechanics alone cannot result in stories to tell and experiences to be had. Gaming offers so much beyond merely storytelling; not to say single player games cannot have incredible narratives, but it’s not a distinguishing feature compared to other mediums like film and literature.

          How do you distinguish between a game enriching you as a player, and enriching you as a “human being”? Obviously someone’s ability to name all the heroes in DOTA is hardly transferable to real life situations, but the same could be said for just about any specific detail of a game you play a lot and enjoy. The real-world benefits don’t come from the details, the fiction, but from the play. But hey, that’s besides the point: I play because it’s damn satisfying and it gets me and my friends screaming and laughing over skype like nothing else, which is a worthwhile experience by itself.

          • Hmm-Hmm. says:

            Is that stance or taste? At any rate, feel free to speak your piece, but do try to refrain from saying such things. You can (or should be able to) make a fine argument without suppositions.

          • Pan Vidla says:

            Alright, please, let me rephrase. I didn’t mean to say that game mechanics are of no interest to me. I just don’t like when they get to the point where the game is purely mechanical. I would compare it to a game of Dungeons and Dragons where the Dungeon Master dwells on numbers all the time and it stands in the way of the actual adventure. Which is not to say that I’m a huge fan of D&D.

            As much as I love games like, say, Portal where solving puzzles and thus working with the game mechanics is the main part of the game, I think it would be a lot less enjoyable without it’s sense of humour and it’s world. I like game mechanics and story to be somehow married together so that the mechanics don’t awkwardly stand out.

            By being enriched as a “human being” I meant to express that I like it when games inspire me in my personal life and change the way I look at things or perhaps make me do something to improve my life in some way. I do enjoy an occasional game of Minecraft or Garry’s Mod (both almost purely mechanical in my opinion) but I would hardly call the time spent with it “enriching”.

          • Cerzi says:

            Great, so can we just summarize this as you having different tastes in games and move on to someone with an actual interest in the article. It’d be lovely to see a piece on dota here and not know for a fact that there will be a bunch of comments from people who have no interest in dota going on and on about how they have a wonderfully refined taste in games and has no time for such garbage as this yada yada something about enriching ourselves as humans.

            Let’s make some other topic the official “I like the look of my own text” hangout, and perhaps start fostering more constructive comments on something that is genuinely exciting for a huge amount of gamers (young and old), and try to drop the inexplicable contention the RPS community seems to have with it.

          • Pan Vidla says:

            You’re being arrogant AND missing the point at the same time, which doesn’t make a very cool outcome. All I did in the previous comment was denying the “allegation of hating game mechanics”, which were, by the way, ridiculous.

            In the beginning I was reacting to your comment about emergent narrative in Dota and you just dismissed my reply with telling me that I like the looks of my own text. I could say the same. Don’t be an idiot.

          • Cerzi says:

            Yes, I’m struggling to see your point – you’re saying you’re not a fan of game mechanics to the extent that “they get to the point where the game is purely mechanical.”. Then you talk about how you like Portal, a mechanics-heavy game, but perhaps only because of how it combines those mechanics with humour and its particular world.|

            Well hey, guess what? DOTA isn’t just some dry featureless mechanical skeleton of a game. It has humour, lots of it. And it has a rich world with lore. In fact, that’s one of the big reasons it’s so popular; its art design has been praised on a number of levels, from the complete uniqueness of each hero’s appearance, to the excellent voice acting, and the cliche-averse themes.

            To be clear, the logic you used to justify your enjoyment of Portal can be used in precisely the same way for DOTA, which means ultimately this argument is about you just not liking DOTA as a game in a broad sense.

            So, if DOTA feels like some dry mathematical game to you, fair enough. But we can just agree to disagree about that, and not have this pretend argument about something else entirely.

          • Pan Vidla says:

            Fair enough, indeed. I honestly didn’t know anything about Dota’s lore or even it’s sense of humour. I can understand your point of view better, now. Problem solved, no insults needed. Have a nice evening.

        • dmoe says:

          So it’s a videogame, weird!

      • crunchyfrog555 says:

        I’m sorry, but that’s rather like saying the reason Space Invaders caused a shortage in 100 Yen Coins in Japan was due to people “creating their own individual stories and experiences”.

        It really isn’t. You simply don’t NEED the story and experience in such a case.

        Sorry if this sounds thorny, but it seems about as genuine to me as that arsehole developer who created “WarZ” defining the lack of well, anything in the game as “make your own experiences”. It’s shallow, to say the least.

        How hard is it to just be straight up about it and say that it’s repeatedly played because it’s so involving?

    • mrmalodor says:

      I tried it for 3 hours. Played two full games. Agonizing boredom. Repetitive and not fun at all. It boggles my mind that some people have the patience to put in over 1000 hours. I’d rather paint a house and watch it dry. I guess most people get pulled in by the prospect of becoming a pro in the e-sports scene. Good for them.

      • shagohad says:

        i think very few have that aspiration, but if they do, hey they could make a career out of it which is no less ridiculous than the millions of kids dreaming of the NHL or whatever. At the end of the day if you are having fun, what does it matter, especially when it costs you nothing.

        I would encourage you try some more matches, until you get a really balanced one where both teams are really fighting hard you havent really seen what the game has to offer

      • Cerzi says:

        Like most great multiplayer games, you get out what you put in. If you just hop into your first and only game and see a map that will never change, a bunch of unknown heroes and a complete lack of understanding of the game’s intricacies, there’s only so much enjoyment you’re going to get. It reminds me of people bashing Quake 3 back in the day because the weapons were bland and the maps were brown. The mindblowing enjoyment of that game came from mastering it: Mastering the physics so you sail around the maps gracefully, respecting and understanding each and every weapon in your arsenal and when to use them, the subtle mindgames going on between you and your opponent as you fence around the map. These aren’t overt mechanisms that a brand new player is immediately able to enjoy, they come with experience and they get you truely hooked.

        In the same way DOTA is a game that gets exponentially more enjoyable the more you understand its intricacies. To say it’s just full of people gritting their teeth at overwhelming tedium and repetition in the hopes that they might be the next e-sports legend is unbelievably out of touch.

        • SaVi says:

          Oh yeah, finding how to improve ones own play is definitely part of the fun.

      • dmoe says:

        I love when people play a game they don’t fully understand much less are decent at then belittle it and the people who play it. Apparently you can only enjoy this game if you’re destined to make it to The International one day. That RPS logic.

      • RIDEBIRD says:

        It’s simply about if you enjoy trying to master a skill. Aiming for perfection, if you will. People play games for very different reasons. I have no aspiration to become a pro player – I am way too shit at DOTA and I am 10 years behind. But I really, really do enjoy the immense depth and endless possibilities to improve.

        I have issues with doing stuff “just because”. I have a need to feel that I am constantly improving at whatever it is I am doing. In games DOTA and FPS as Planetside give me that satisfaction. I can see myself becoming better and better, and I find that immensly satistfying.

        I too thought DOTA seemed like the most repetetive, boring piece of crap ever to be created. I looked down on it too. But then I understood the beauty, the intricacies, the endless depth. It’s where DOTA shines and why it is so, so good.

        • dmoe says:

          RIDEBIRD has seen the light. That beautifully frustrating light. Welcome to the fold.

        • danielfath says:

          Yeah, I’ve played DotA for a long time with friends, but then one day I saw a game without last hit and denying and I’ve realized how much there is left for the genre MOBA/ARTS to evolve. DotA is OK, it’s balanced but it’s plagued with some questionable design decisions.

          EDIT: To be precise – Last-hit, Deny, turn speed in DotA, not enough comeback mechanic, character specific parasitic item (Staff of Mastery, or what’s it called in DotA), fact that feeding exist, etc.

      • Thysios says:

        People have a different taste in games than you? What a surprise!!

      • Carighan Maconar says:

        It’s ~ok when you play with friends while you’re on voicecomm. Especially if you co-op and use the game as something you do while chatting about other things (that’s how I usually play it :P ).

        Mechanically, it focuses too much on memorization to be my thing. I can see the appeal, just isn’t for me. :)

      • crunchyfrog555 says:

        That’s sounds rather unfair.

        I’ve played DOTA and whilst I don’t like it at all, I really do understand the intricacies in there. I found it tedious, but that does NOT mean the game is tedious.

        I recognise there’s a hell of a lot of balancing detail in there, and that’s the reason the games go on for so long. If you like it, fair play, there’s a lot to like.

        I just can’t get into it at all, but I certainly am not going to disrespect the game because Valve have made an astonishingly deep and complex game there.

      • innociv says:

        So, you’re basically the reason Last of Us exists. “I hate playing games! Give me a movie where I occasionally press X so I have nothing to learn or figure out.”

    • S Jay says:

      I played the tutorial for about 5 minutes and realized I would get insanely stressed out to discover every secret and lose my life to become a good player. Decided it was better to quit and uninstall the game.

    • dmoe says:

      And that’s what Dota 2 offers? Experiences. Not sure what your comment means?

    • SaVi says:

      I thought I never would get in to the game, tried it and got confused. months later somehow maybe the stars aligned in a specific way and I got curious again, even dealt with troll abuse, reading guides for hours and practicing endlessly in bot matches. It was a weird but fun phase, like being hooked by a good single player game, or my first MMO.
      These days I drop in and a play a match with bots on the hardest level, and once in a blue moon dare to play a match against humans.

    • phylum sinter says:

      I’ve tried to watch it, i’ve tried to play it. Both bored me in minutes, and i couldn’t understand the fun in them.

      Things i’ve also tried, didn’t enjoy:

      Swordfish
      Fencing
      Bungee Jumping
      Baseball
      Kissing a Man
      Badminton
      The Tilt-A-Whirl at the Carnival
      Boiled Peanuts

      Please, don’t take offense to me for my varying tastes. The spectacle of this game is baffling to me, but this article did give me a few ‘huh’ moments. As for its’ growing popularity, and E-Sports in general, i’m finding an incredibly hard time seeing the draw there. With other (meatspace) sports, the physical challenge and the logistics of getting to where the greats are happening to playing is a reason to watch through a screen. Seeing people play a game (whose entry free is usually very low, if relatively nonexistent in DOTA2′s case) while they could be playing it, learning it themselves seems like the ultimate in lazy to me… but again, just one human’s opinion.

  2. Jams O'Donnell says:

    I’m pretty sure LOMA is the correct genre name.

    • Premium User Badge

      RaveTurned says:

      Not heard that one before, what does it stand for?

      I’m a fan of Lane-Pusher, or 3MA’s more tongue-in-cheek Lords Management Simulation. :P

      I *knew* there was a good reason not to use the ridiculous MOBA term. Thanks to Mr Cohen for bringing it to the hive-mind’s collective attention.

    • Xocrates says:

      So long as it isn’t ARTS.

      Seriously, I really REALLY hate that one.

      • glocks4interns says:

        I think the DOTA community hating the term MOBA and refusing to use it sums up the DOTA community pretty well.

        • Moraven says:

          Well, it stems from Pendragon taking down the largest DOTA forum with no warning, slapping a LoL ad on the site and keeping the archive for years.

          Then the accusations went that Riot used the best ideas left on the forum for future champions.

          And some other things.

          So all the things and slander from Riot they will refuse to use a term made up by Riot.

          • innociv says:

            No, Multiple Online Battle Arena is just a stupid term that also describes games like Quake.

            Arena Real Time Strategy is the most apt.

      • Premium User Badge

        tigerfort says:

        But they have all the features of normal RTS games, like basebuilding, direct control of large groups of units, and the ability/need to carefully design mixed arms squads for optimal battlefield performance.

        Oh, wait, they don’t have any of the major features of an RTS game. My mistake. Calling these games “Arena RTS” is like calling Defense Grid an “Orbital FPS”.

        • Moraven says:

          Arena RTS seems off. There are a lot of cool Arena maps for War3 and SC2. That are actually Arenas where you duel with a character chosen.

          But really, MOBA is not much better, but is better.

          • shaydeeadi says:

            I thought it was meant to be Action-RTS anyway, not arena but it’s not important. The problem is it isn’t really that easy a game to pigeonhole, I personally liken it more to Street Fighter than an RTS, with all the spell combos, animation cancels and positioning. And any name for it I come up with while typing this comment just sounds stupid.

        • dagudman says:

          It is called an Action-RTS because you only control 1 unit, but you fight using that unit rather than having many units and commanding all of them.

          • Xocrates says:

            I genuinely can’t tell if you’re joking or not.

          • Premium User Badge

            tigerfort says:

            That description would make probably a majority of all games ever into “Action RTS” games. FPSs, brawlers, combat flight (and vehicle) sims…

          • crunchyfrog555 says:

            Wow. So Space Invaders, Pac-man, Galaxian, Dig :Dug and all those old arcade games I still play are now considered to be MOBAs? That’s nice.

        • CloakRaider says:

          You heard it here first, all normal RTSs have basebuilding, “squad management” and battlefield garble garble to be considered RTSs

          Man I am enlightened now!

          • Ergates_Antius says:

            1) Yes, those are the standard set of features for games of the genre known as RTS. Have been since the start – I can’t imagine how this could possibly be news for you.

            2) I think you’ve confused “all the features of normal RTS games” with “the normal features of all RTS games”

    • Shezo says:

      No, the right name for the genre is assfaggots, Aeon of Strife Styled Fortress Assault Game Going On Two Sides.

      • shaydeeadi says:

        Ssssh don’t use that term round here people get upset over it for no reason. The most accurate description though.

      • vivlo says:

        ahhaha assfaggots is my favourite

    • Phendron says:

      EIAFS: Extreme Isometric Action Fantasy Simulator

      Pronounced ‘Eye-affs’

    • The Random One says:

      I’m picking up this banner:

      Strategic
      Area
      Under
      Siege;
      Attack
      Groups of
      Enemy
      Soldiers

    • Eskatos says:

      Tower Offense! Tower Offense! Tower Offense!

  3. tasteful says:

    i like dota but this reads like a 7th grade book report

    • glocks4interns says:

      More like a 7th grade love letter

    • DigitalParadox says:

      Videogame journalism at its finest

    • Carbonated Dan says:

      yuppers

      Bow, Nigger this is not

      which is a shame: Dota2 should be a boon to new games journalists

    • Snargelfargen says:

      Agreed. Odd that other MOBA’s aren’t being discussed either. If this article is intended to be an introduction to e-sports and DOTA, it’s going about it the wrong way.

    • Reapy says:

      When I got to the end of the comments I was going to say “This seems out of place for RPS, it reads like a high school position paper”, and I guess I wasn’t the only one.

      What seems at odd here is RPS articles are usually written towards a readership that has a good ‘game brain’. This article assumes it needs to spend many words explaining basic concepts that anybody here should understand. It wouldn’t feel out of place if up top they explained what a “PC” was and what the “INTERNET” is, and how people from around the world can connect and play in the same game! Amazing!

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      svendelmaus says:

      There’s just something odd about some of the wording and choices of phrase. For example, when I read the second paragraph of “The Service” section, we got “While Dota 2 remains, mostly, unchanged as DotA”, and it felt like I had hit a bump — wouldn’t you normally say “unchanged *from* DotA”? Or better yet, something like “While Dota 2 remains close to the original DotA mod”? And some of the paragraphs lurched into unintelligibility, such as the one following the “Pudge and Chen Hook” video — I did not feel I had enough context to understand what the writer was trying to say, and started to skim the article.

      Of course, if it turns out that the writer isn’t an native English-language speaker, then I’ll feel a bit dumb. But a bit more polish, especially for such a long article, would be appreciated.

      • Premium User Badge

        svendelmaus says:

        But then I failed to put commas before the quotes. Bah, writing properly is hard. :)

      • Sic says:

        I think you’ll find that if he used more polish, it would be much harder to read.

    • Juan Carlo says:

      Yeah, it is an odd article. I see what you mean about the highschool book report, but it was also weirdly uncritical. It’s like the author decided to explain the success of DOTA just by reading from a Valve press release touting all of DOTA’s awesome features.

      I actually double checked after reading it to see if this new feature was some sort of “Designers, explain in your own words why your game is popular” type article written by the creators of the game. It reads like slightly gussied up advertising, or a particularly zealous wikipedia entry.

  4. Brosepholis says:

    This is what it must have felt like to read Nintendo Power back in the day. One can only read so much gushing praise without one’s eyebrow drifting upwards.

  5. sventoby says:

    I really don’t understand the appeal of the genre. Why did people decide that controlling one unit and playing only one map (or a handful depending on the game) from the RTS perspective is more fun than controlling hundreds of units plus building a base on dozens of different maps?

    • tasteful says:

      i agree but dota is chill if you like jerk-off mental-library games, and theres something to be said for that. it becomes sort of monastic

    • glocks4interns says:

      People didn’t “decide” it was more fun. They played it and found it to be more fun. And I for one think they are more fun.

      • subedii says:

        Depends what you’re looking for in the end.

        As a general rule, Dota-likes play and feel differently from most RTS’s, and heck, there’s a ridiculous amount of divergence just in the field of RTS’s in itself. A few popular RTS’s right now: Rome II: Total War, Starcraft 2, and Company of Heroes 2. If we want to talk about the
        “appeal of a genre”, well, how the frack do I apply any kind of broad stroke between those three to begin with? They have “more units” but that’s about where it ends in terms of gameplay style.

        “More Maps” “More Units” doesn’t mean much on its own. It certainly doesn’t make a game more technical or strategic. The meta-game of games like Dota just lies elsewhere compared to the meta-game of a more traditional 1v1 online RTS like Starcraft.

        • LionsPhil says:

          A more useful axis might be “amount of micro”, from the likes of TA or SupComm where it’s a selling point that unts can be set to be largely autonomous and have few-to-no manual special attacks to babysit, through old C&C, to Starcraft, to MOBAs as a logical other extreme where you seem to be mostly microing the hell out of a single super-unit.

          Generally speaking, the more micro, the fewer units you can handle, unless you’re a caffine-fuelled Korean Starcraft god. Inevitably this ends up crushing the numbers of types of units down too.

          • shagohad says:

            company of heroes always had a nice balance in that respect, wish more people still played it,

            never tried CoH2 when I saw all the dlc stuff……

          • Carbonated Dan says:

            ‘inevitably this ends up crushing the numbers of types of units’

            except in the case of lomas

          • LionsPhil says:

            Unless I’m mistaken, the count per-faction is one. Sometimes two.

            That there may be 99 other unit types in the game matters naught if I have no option to use them when playing any one specific hero. I have no strategic decision to make there.

          • Sparvy says:

            Well, there is significant strategic choice when it come to picking heroes. This does of course imply some kind of organized thought behind a team but with over a hundred choices (or practically countless if you consider the team as a whole) the strategical depth there is massive.

            And of course, this is without entering any of the strategy involved when actually playing which is mostly incomparable to classic RTS.

          • Reapy says:

            I was having this discussion with a friend earlier this week with micro in RTS games. I used to play the hell out of warcraft 2 via kali when I was younger. One thing about the game back then was micro was non existent due to modem ping times, you basically would hit patrol (attack command did not have priorities!) and let it resolve itself. You could sort of micro out how you cast LUST and mages/DKs if you got far enough along, but juggling your units back and forth into combat wasn’t something you had to do.

            Another factor reducing micro was that ranged units didn’t exist, you built archers for dragon’s (which nobody did anyway) and that was it. So again you have melee units going at it, it makes focus fire micro not as important. You could get some choke point 3 on 1′s set up sometimes but again you just sort of let the units stack up on each other and fight it out.

            In this way you weren’t pulled in two directions as much to handle resource gathering + town building, and when it came to the fight, it was about positioning and force make up, and choosing the right time and place to attack.

            I liked that a lot, but as soon as all the hyper micro play kicked in, the ranged fiddling of units and pathing and the like really got too much for me to manage and I stopped enjoying myself in multiplayer RTS games. Maybe I just got too old :)

            I can see the appeal of having one unit to focus on as much more relaxing and engaging rather than having your attention being torn in multiple directions. In a way you can master that one character much more since you are spending much more time with it and only have it to focus on.

            I really like the DOTA unit design and skills etc, but I hate the laning creep tower defence whatever structure for some reason. I actually had an amazing time playing dawn of war 2′s last stand mode, and would love to see more “action rts” games sort of hone in on that type of gameplay with long term gear purchase having an RPG effect on things and more co-operative play rather than the DOTA laning / tower way of it.

            Magica Wizard war’s looks like it’s taking a deep enough side step from DOTA that might be interesting, am really looking forward to try it out. Would like to see more iteration on the ‘single character RTS” games than what we have now.

          • LionsPhil says:

            Yeah, meanwhile my preference to solve that is to keep the unit count but try to kill off the micro, hence liking the SupComm end of the scale. Ideally the unit AI would always be that little bit better. (Pro SC players will probably tell you all about submarine overkill, but thankfully I don’t care to be pro or do antagonistic multiplayer.)

    • G3ck0 says:

      Because the map is one of the most complex maps in the history of gaming. You can play for thousands of hours and still not know everything about it. Using the map, it’s trees and hideaways and paths to your advantage is something only the great players utilise properly.

    • Cerzi says:

      Sometimes less is more.

      I love DOTA, and the only multiplayer game I’ve loved as much has been Quake 3, for a similar reason, Raw, refined gameplay. It’s not about the number of maps or how many units you control, it’s about the pure gameplay on offer.

      Yeah, there may be 100 heroes to choose from and numerous items to build, but ultimately any single game of dota is just a very small sub-selection of that, and it becomes all about the little things.

    • Calabi says:

      I’ve become kind of addicted to this. About a hundred hours so far and still havent played all the heroes.

      I used to think these games were rubbish and unintelligible. It is pretty complicated but thats part of the draw. Simple to get into hard to master.

      Every match is so different. It only has one map but it can be used in so many different ways with so many different combinations of heroes.

      Some heroes you do control more than one unit. But with the speed of the game micro managing them is very difficult. Thats why players whom can control characters like Meepo are respected.

    • chiablo says:

      The game is designed around that one map layout. Having anything other than the three lanes would break the game’s balance. Instead of having dozens of maps to give the game complexity, they add complexity and depth with heroes.

      In my opinion, DotA 2 is more like a fighting game than an RTS.

    • Premium User Badge

      ScruffyLemming says:

      Asking why there is only one map for Dota is like asking why is there only one pitch for football. The map has been refined and tweaked over the years until it is a thing of beauty. I have well over a thousand hours in the game and I am constantly finding new ways to utilise the different areas.

      Every time there is a story about Dota the comments section is full of these people saying they don’t understand why its popular and sneering at those of us who love the game. Maybe if they got together with 4 of their friends and gave the game a chance they would understand. I see a lot of the same mentality in the board-game and CCG threads where just because they don’t play those types of games it somehow means those games are bad?

      • sventoby says:

        I didn’t say it was bad, just that I don’t get it. As a matter of opinion clearly a lot of people disagree with me considering the genre’s popularity. I did play it with friends and got tired of it fairly quickly, yet some of them have been playing a moba type game for years now. Different strokes I guess.

        • Phendron says:

          It’s a polarizing genre for sure, but the ‘one map’ argument is tired and holds no weight.

    • Premium User Badge

      DeVadder says:

      I hate the Dota control scheme. But i love the rules and game. Hence i found my home in SMITE.
      I had tried to play both Dota and LoL before and really wanted to get to like them. But i just could not get around the awkward controls, clearly not made for controling only one unit.
      There is a reason we use WASD, ffs.
      I would not mind the camera angle or whatever but why cant i control my one guy directly?

      But w/e i really enjoy SMITE.

  6. GallonOfAlan says:

    This is sport in the same way that a submarine can swim.

    • analydilatedcorporatestyle says:

      This is a sport because it attracts sponsorship!

      Sex is the biggest sport of all, viewing figures confirm this! In second place is animals doing funny stuff(try and avoid the ones where the pets are drugged and wearing costumes). In third is Russians and their crazy driving antics!

      E-SPORT! You can’t beat it

  7. neolith says:

    I’ve tried DOTA2 twice, both times because I read articles about it being a cool game.
    Both times I’ve found that I still hate it with a passion.

    I just reinstalled it a third time, because a friend of mine can’t stop talking about how much better the game has gotten and how much she wants to play it together with friends. Maybe it has changed and maybe I’ll come to see what others see in it – but I have my doubts…

    • G3ck0 says:

      Twice? You need to give it more of a chance. I hated it at first, but after 50 or so games I fell in love. It’s an incredibly complex game, it takes time to love.

      • Shadowcat says:

        There are far too many games that I do/would like playing to ever be able to play them all. so the notion of playing one that I hate into double-figures is fairly hilarious. (But hey, if you wound up loving it, then maybe this is my loss.)

        (Just a general response — I’ve never played a DOTA game.)

        • dagudman says:

          I would rather say start with LoL since it is a less complex game and learn how to gank and last hit, then after reaching lvl 10-15 try dota 2 and it will be much easier to learn how to play it. My first match of dota 2 without knowing anything about it but having played LoL until lvl 20 I won 2 v 4. That was because my other teammates decided to leave. Of course I could just be a really fast learner, but I think it helps having a vague idea of how ARTS games work and LoL is the most casual one right now.

        • Grargh says:

          This, so much!

          Investing so much of your limited lifetime in one single video game you initially find frustrating, just because people insist it will become fun at some point, is utter madness. Every one of us has a heap of games in their backlog, and in the time it takes you to appreciate Dota, you could easily play through 5 of them, seeing infinitely more diversity and having fun from the start.

          Like with other hobbies that have a high skill/experience threshold, you have to quit a few other ones to properly get into it, and that is a price many of us don’t want to pay.

      • HadToLogin says:

        You know, psychologists say that’s actually a normal reaction after you spend 20 hours with something you hate – you practically need to prove to yourself you’re not an idiot for losing so much time with something rubbish, so you start to like it.

    • Kaiji says:

      Modern gaming has taught us that we’ll be consistently rewarded greatly for very little effort, so when the typical modern gamer tries DotA they usually find themselves repulsed by it. It’s like expecting to find a hamster in the box and being bitten by a snake.

      I strongly recommend reading this invaluable guide before/if you decide to dive in again… http://www.purgegamers.com/welcome-to-dota-you-suck#.UjCoUWBxmPA

      • Synesthesia says:

        Bingo! Also the urge to not like something popular is always very compelling.

      • dmoe says:

        Exactly.

      • neolith says:

        Haha, I seriously hope that you don’t see me as the stereotypical ‘modern gamer’ with little patience. :D
        Because I really don’t think I am.

        Apart from the fact that I really like gaming I also easily obsess about numbers. Figuring out gameplay mechanics is a lot of fun for me. If I fail, I try again. If I fail again, I’ll try try to fail in a different way, again and again until I find a way to succeed. I like to try, I like to learn and I like to figure things out. I am the kind of guy that plays MMOs with a calculator and reads fightlogs.

        The thing is – DOTA2 doesn’t trigger that behaviour in me. And neither did any other MOBAs before it (the first on I actually tried was Demigod I think). So far it has always been the gameplay that has bored me to no end, not how hard it is to get into the game.

        Thanks a lot for the link though. I’ll give the articles a closer look if I make it through the tutorials that the game now offers.

        • RIDEBIRD says:

          It’s rather strange that you dislike DOTA as it sounds like exactly what you would enjoy or is looking for. If I was you I would give it a go and sacrifice 10 hours or so. I think you would find it satisfying as it is pretty much what you described when you go beneath the initial glance of the gameplay (which I too found boring at the start).

        • Kaiji says:

          “I’ll give the articles a closer look if I make it through the tutorials that the game now offers.”

          I’d do it the other way around. Valve’s tutorials are a decent enough way to learn the EXTREME basics of the game, but they’re still a work in progress (the last-hitting tutorial isn’t even implemented yet). You’ll get a lot more useful information by reading strategy/hero guides.

          Also, watch live games in the client. You can set a filter to only show games that have a specific hero playing, so you can learn how to play a hero you’re interested in. Personally I’m addicted to playing Nature’s Prophet and I learned a ton by watching others play him and going “Wow… Can’t wait to try that out!”

          As Ridebird said, DotA definitely sounds like your kind of thing, but it might not grab you immediately. When it does, though, it won’t let go. :)

      • Sigh says:

        >>>Pay attention to us. We hate the haters that hate the popular game, because it is cool to hate popular things and we are totally bucking that trend via the unglamorous route of mocking the haters. We are an ever edgier emerging form of “cool”. >>>

        Just so you know I love you guys so the circle is broken!

    • Premium User Badge

      Banyan says:

      I highly recommend playing with a friend who can patiently explain what the hell is going on. You probably need 20-40 hours in the game to not be an outright liability to your team. Some tutoring will keep you on the shorter side of that range and reduce the frustration. Or you can just run around by yourself and hit stuff, which is what I did: maybe more fun than treating it like an object of study, but it took forever to figure out the game mechanics and suck less.

      • Premium User Badge

        strangeloup says:

        It baffles me that people have sufficient free time to dedicate 20-40 hours to reaching a level of barely passable competence in a game. Generally, most of the games I enjoy playing — and I’m a big fan of RPG’s — will be more or less over in that time period.

        Which I guess is what puts me off this genre overall; while you’re not very good at it, you’ll not likely enjoy it very much, and the time investment required to get reasonable at it is far too high, in my view. For me personally, it seems like it’s time better dedicated elsewhere. Someone else remarked that the skills learned for DOTA2 (for example) aren’t really transferable outside the genre, and even then, other titles may have notably different mechanics requiring a change in strategy.

        I can understand the appeal of the genre, certainly, and I was pleased to discover that AwesomeNauts shares a bunch of the concepts but is a whole lot more accessible to those of us who lack the time or inclination to spend a great effort learning all the intricacies of a complex title like DOTA2.

        • Premium User Badge

          Banyan says:

          “Someone else remarked that the skills learned for DOTA2 (for example) aren’t really transferable outside the genre, and even then, other titles may have notably different mechanics requiring a change in strategy.”

          It’s actually worse than that. While professional level dota-like players have been known to blow off steam with Awesomenauts, Smite, or other more casual titles, the more complex titles require so much head space and muscle memory that you play worse if you jump between games. Learning the powers of a hundred heroes, how those heroes interact with other heroes, how the dozens of potential items interact with hero powers, and then how the combination of hero and item powers can be utilized creatively in the carefully designed map/pitch/arena takes up a ridiculous amount of cranium. Doing it twice for a second game is daunting, and then keeping all that detail mentally segregated so you don’t get confused while playing even more so.

          Even if there wasn’t a bit of a religious dispute between LoL and Dota 2 players, for example, I doubt you’d see many high end players who were good at both. Anybody who wants to more than dabble in the titles will have to choose one or the other, since nobody has that sort of free time.

  8. Moraven says:

    I wonder how many people are actually playing vs observing players in game.

    Counterstrike has pretty good numbers if you add all 3 games up together.

    War3 Dota All Stars is still pretty big in China.

    • dagudman says:

      And eastern european countries such as Romania.

      • Moraven says:

        Ah yes, sorry. I forgot the scene is strong for a lot of pro level play for a lot of variety of games. Wish we would see it in America.

        Another thing is the ability to pirate and play free makes these scenes thrive. Brood War pro was never played on the Blizzard servers. ICCUP was outside Blizzard’s control and a great ladder system.

    • HadToLogin says:

      And don’t forget pirates. They exist and play on not-VAC secured servers a lot.

  9. DarkFarmer says:

    I think MOBAs are popular because they appeal to several features of their target audience’s primal and advanced psychology. Let us assume the average MOBA player is somebody more or less like me, a young man. Young men, primally, like three things:

    a) hurting other people. In a MOBA, you are allowed to give your opponents a painful and sustained beating. They cannot leave, they cannot quit, they must suffer out a long, brutal loss. You must do the same if you fail. I have to admit, the adolecent man in me (im 35 now) really comes alive when I am owning people in a MOBA.

    b) being on a team with your friends: Primally, we are supposed to run in wolf-packs of young men, seeing where we can get in and succeed. Gangs, bands, and our MOBA groups or clans are ways we can hang out with our buddies and come to hate eachother. I was in a band for like 10 years and most of my former bandmates play MOBAs with me.

    c) sports. The depth and complexity of the successful MOBAs gives us something to talk about and observe just like sports. Actually, you kind of get to observe like a spectator sport AS you play a moba, thanks to its top-down view. We can see the game play out like a game, rather than from a first-person perspective, where it feels more like something else. The top down camera feels like watching football or basketball and that appeals to the playerbase as well.

    I am by no means an authority, but those are my feelings on why MOBAs are successful. As to your exact question, why is DOTA2 the #1 game on steam, well it is Steam’s premier MOBA. Why it surpassed other MOBAs is another discussion entirely.

    • Heighnub says:

      I would disagree on a) and rather call it competing against other people.
      Playing a drawn out game where one side is much stronger than the other is no fun, even if you are on the stronger side.

      b.) Don’t we run in wolf-packs because fighting against an enemy in one-on-one combat would result in more damage to ourselves at the end of the fight (assuming we even win)?

      • analydilatedcorporatestyle says:

        You and your European values! Go DOTA 2 where grown men can humiliate others by obsessing over a game! Yay! Newbiebuttfuck!

        My genes must be a tad different to DarkFarmer’s

        Edit: THANK FUCK

        • Sparvy says:

          You are going to continue this obnoxious style of posting forever aren’t you? Or, hope beyond hope, that condition isn’t genetic as well.

          • analydilatedcorporatestyle says:

            Yes, sadly my offsping are of the intelligent, compassionate type.

            E Sports hawks they are not, thankfully!!

            Edit: Though it is a sad testament to some of humanity, those who openly defend people who want to cause humiliation and pain to their peers. What a fucked up world we live in!

          • Askeladd says:

            He’s a drama queen.

          • analydilatedcorporatestyle says:

            Least I’m not a psycopath, I quote “a) hurting other people. In a MOBA, you are allowed to give your opponents a painful and sustained beating. They cannot leave, they cannot quit, they must suffer out a long, brutal loss. You must do the same if you fail. I have to admit, the adolecent man in me (im 35 now) really comes alive when I am owning people in a MOBA.” This is a Freudian fuckin gold mine of damaged head goods FFS!

        • DarkFarmer says:

          Yes, my post may seem a little dark. And sure there are people who want rousing games that test our abilities and may the best person win. That is all well and good.

          However we are analyzing here why MOBAs are very popular, and there are plenty of multiplayer games out there that they are eclipsing in popularity and one way that MOBAs, especially League, Hon, and DOTA are unique from those is very draconian concession/leaver policies. Why can’t you concede any of those games with a simple majority vote after 5 minutes? 10 minutes? 20 minutes?

          You say its a bad thing, this need to defeat others and know you are ruining their day, and I agree with you but probably not for the right reason; mostly that I think one is better off channeling those feelings into something more creative than your League or Dota stats. Aggressive, competitive feelings are natural in humans and it is better for us to express them in games, sports, or some sort of creative endeavor than in violence.

          • analydilatedcorporatestyle says:

            My friend look game up in the dictionary.

            No wait, it’s E Sports so your bizzre schadenfreude is validated, enjoy!

          • Grargh says:

            “Aggressive, competitive feelings are natural in humans”

            Then I must be living in a very unnatural group of humans. Also, your number one reason for the popularity of these games is actually the one thing I absolutely can’t stand in a game, digital or otherwise.

    • Snargelfargen says:

      I bet you hated gym class.

      • DarkFarmer says:

        well… pretty sure you didnt want a response to that… but actually it was awesome. I was a kid a long time ago, when the closest thing to the internet was called “AOL” or “Compuserve”. We didn’t have anti bully training or nerd chic back then, if you were a nerd, you were just a nerd. I wasnt even a nerd anyway, more of a geek. at least the nerds had their nerd girlfriends.

        anyway my “wolf pack” of geeks would basically wander off during gym and invent our own “sports” such as kicking a snapple cap, throwing pine cones at eachother, or hitting a tennis ball as hard as possible at one another. it was the best hour of the day.

        Again I don’t speak for everybody, but there is a very primal natural urge to engage in contests to establish some sense of personal superiority over your peers and that is what MOBAs do better than any other game that is out right now, mostly due to the factors I’ve already explained.

        The “Bad community” people always complain about in regards to these kinds of games stems from this.

        I don’t condone these games, and don’t play them right now, but I feel pretty confident understand why they are successful.

        • Snargelfargen says:

          Nope, I didn’t expect a response, so the anecdote was a pleasant surprise! I think we’ve all played the “chuck balls at each other” game, although in my case it was usually a hackeysack.

          I kind of agree with your points, but I think there’s too much emphasis on the negative results of competition. MOBA’s may be hyper-competitive, but there’s enough nuance to the gameplay that a player can have fun learning and honing their skills, even when their side is being crushed. Focusing on the painful aspects of losing in team activities makes me think that you’ve had some shitty experiences in competition (probably through no fault of your own), hence the gym class remark. It doesn’t have to always be that way though, there’s tons of positives to competition and it’s amazing what a positive attitude can bring to a sport.

  10. glocks4interns says:

    Why is Riot written RIOT? Do we stylize W0rDZ based on the time of day or maybe our F331NGS?

  11. Drinking with Skeletons says:

    The short version is:

    if you don’t like these types of games then FUCK YOU because there’s gold in them thar hills

    -every developer before going broke trying to make one that stands out in the crowd

  12. Moraven says:

    What will the future articles be about?

    LoL, Starcraft 2, EVO/Fighters, CS/Quake/CoD/FPS

    More and more fighters are going F2P and more are released on PC, I wonder if the developers will push the eSport part of their game more.

    I would have liked to see LoL article first, then highlight in the DOTA 2 one the focus Valve has made on all the non gameplay related elements. They didn’t have to invent any new gameplay.

    • glocks4interns says:

      Why talk about the biggest game when you can talk about the biggest game ON STEAM!

      • shaydeeadi says:

        The fact that it has such a massive population advantage over the next 9 games on the Steam list is a testament to the popularity of the genre as a whole. It is there in cold hard numbers.

        Even HoN (the weaker of the big 3, player base wise) has higher numbers playing than the next game on the Steam chart as a minimum.

        • Moraven says:

          Aye.

          3 different games in the same genre have a larger daily playerbase than the 2nd peak played Steam game.

          I imagine MWO has a high consistent playerbase also. Wonder if we would ever see a eSport seen with that.

          Natural Selection 2 has a small eSport scene.

          • KwisatzHaderach says:

            I would wonder though if NS2 was left out by this new series about MP games. It is special in so many ways, gameplay, community, developers, development, comp scene…

  13. Drake Sigar says:

    Fuck if I know.

  14. subedii says:

    Speaking as someone who recently got into it:

    - I’ve been a fan of RTS’s of various types for a long time. In a sense, it’s not a typical RTS, but the manner in which you work together as a 5v5 across the map, coordinating actions, behaviours, and purchases makes it feel like a co-op RTS in a fair few ways. Each person only controls one hero, and from a technical standpoint, that’s simple, but the interplay between all the heroes and their action is where the strategy and meta-game come in.

    - For all the angst over how the learning curve is a brick wall, that’s only half-right. There is a TONNE of stuff you can learn about DOTA as you go on (it too me ages just to realise there’s such a thing as a “hard” and “easy” lane, and what differentiates them), but you can actually jump in and start playing straight away, because you don’t NEED to know all that stuff when you start out. The matchmaking works fairly well there I feel, keeping me in with people who are just about as clueless as I am*. And that helps enormously. You learn and get better as you go on, and generally the more technical the plays get, the more satisfying it feels to play. There was an interesting quote from Erik Johnson in an interview which I think pretty much sums it up really well:

    http://uk.ign.com/articles/2013/08/10/dota-2-international-valve-interview

    IGN: On a broader note, you’re obviously trying to make things easier for newcomers to the game, with tutorials and training missions and things. Given the very steep learning curve, how far are you going to go with those?

    Erik Johnson: There’s kinda two parts to that; the learning curve of Dota, I don’t think it’s steep. I think it’s infinite, and if you look at the bottom end of learning, and at the stage of the International, the distance between those two is roughly the distance from here to the sun – it’s immense. We do look a lot at the attachment point; like how much Dota do you need to play to really want to invest your time – turns out it’s about five games.

    And it’s the notion of depth, the game telling you; as much as you want to invest, we’ll reward you back for your knowledge and your skill, and stuff like that. But the entertainment exists at every level of play – from our finance department at Valve, they all play Dota together, to you know, Alliance, who just won the best-of-three against DK. People have fun at all of those levels. The trick for us is to kind of show people the mountain, and that they’ll have a bunch of fun at every point that they climb up it. The International is this incredible spike, where all players that aren’t in the tournament – including me – we watch this event and go ‘Well I never really thought of doing that,’ and you get a big spike to your knowledge of the game, and that’s fun – I don’t feel like a worse player because I hadn’t thought of that, I think ‘Oh, that’s clever.’

    - The entire infrastructure that Valve’s built around the game is rock solid concentrated awesome, something that I wish all RTS games had. And it’s done in a fashion where I suffer no disadvantage whatsoever compared to someone who’s spent $Ridiculous on the game, which is extremely rare for a F2P game.

    Before DOTA 2 my main RTS was pretty much DoW2. In fact I can see a LOT of similarities between the two games in their design, which is probably why I took to it in the first place. But whilst I still think I prefer DoW2 in some ways, I play a lot more DOTA 2 instead. Because Valve pretty much mastered the entire multiplayer back end, from the matchmaking to the guild system to even stuff like how I can spectate matches live in-game, complete with my choice of available shoutcasters, all without having to Stream video (which cuts down on bandwidth massively).

    There are caveats. It’s still a game best played with friends or guild mates, there’s a limit to how much strategy and meta-game you can get going in pub games without communication (pub games you rarely get communication, at least not at the lower tiers). And it’s a game that requires more time commitment per match than most games (matches can go for around an hour, and unless someone else has already dropped and made the game safe to leave, leaving a match is TERRIBLE etiquette). But for all that I’ve found it far easier and less frustrating to handle than other online RTS’s I’ve played, and that’s largely because of the infrastructure around it.

    *An aside on that: I consistently see people throw complaints at “terrible” matchmaking systems because they have this weird expectation that they should be winning most of the time if the matchmaking system is doing it’s job. That is completely wrong. The job of a good matchmaking system is the ensure that you get matched into games with people of roughly equal skill level, and the takeaway from that is that you should actually be hitting around 50% win / loss ratio if things are ideal.

    • Ernesto25 says:

      *not an rts

    • Artiforg says:

      I think the reason that people are complaining about the terrible matchmaking system is that they expect to have a close game, where either team could win right up until the end. And what they’re actually finding is that they’re stomping the other team or being stomped themselves.

      • subedii says:

        Snowballing is definitely a thing in DOTA’s design. But to be honest, I find that the game also has a ridiculous scope for comebacks as well, which is part of its appeal. Everything can change completely on the space of one well executed team-fight, or if a few guys get caught out of position.

        It’s rare, ultimately if you’re playing an opponent that’s better than you then you should expect to lose. But a good play can turn it all around.

        I haven’t played many games (don’t think I’ve even hit the 50 mark yet), but I’ve already seen this both ways, where we’ve been able to stage epic comebacks over guys that were originally farmed well above us, and losses against guys who we technically had 20+ kills over. The meta- game comes way into force as all of a sudden picked and counter-picked carries shoulder more significance, particularly when they’ve got their ultis up and the items they wanted.

        I think a large part of it is me personally. I’ve had plenty of years playing RTS’s, so I’m very used to losing. I guess that in itself doesn’t ruin the game for me like it did when I first started. :)

        • redsoxman says:

          I made an account here to say how right you are that comebacks can happen. Here is a match from not too long ago with a MASSIVE turnaround: 304947065 is the match ID, http://dotabuff.com/matches/304947065 is the dotabuff.

          Early game we got messed up HARD. The opponents got 7 kills before we get our first, which was a Zeus ult sadly. They had over 4000 XP and 2000 gold on us just past 12 minutes into the game, which is quite a sizable lead.

          At about 17:30 we take our first good fight, getting 4 kills for 1 death but are still thousands of gold and XP behind.

          At 25 min mark they take Rosh and we CLEAN HOUSE in the aftermath. We go from ~12k XP deficit to 6k and net about 3000 gold from the fight. While they are still dead we take 2 mid towers putting the gold difference back down to 4k.

          A couple more good fights and some lovely bash procs (and Abyssal blade usage) turn what I thought was a sure loss (our mid shadow fiend started 0-10-1 while opposing OD was 13-0-3) into one of the best victories I have ever had.

          This was in Very High MMing too, so it’s not like scrubs threw a game they had won. It was a hard-fought comeback because we worked well together, had picked a solid late-game team, and didn’t give up after being beaten down for 33 mins (which is when we first took the gold and XP lead).

          Dota is fucking awesome because of games like this!

      • Premium User Badge

        Banyan says:

        I don’t think that as all. Certainly, the design of the game means that once a team starts gaining an advantage, it’ll likely turn into a stomp. But you can nearly always find a reason to hope for a comeback. The dominant team will get cocky and dive the enemy base, get wiped, and the defending team will be able to rally and take Rosh or a couple towers. A team with a lot of heroes that peak in early to mid game will suddenly find itself in trouble if they let an opposing team with a couple hard carries survive into late game. And frankly, the skill level of most pubs is such that you can always hope the other team will just screw up. I had an amazing game recently where my team had lost two 4th tier towers and hadn’t even seen the enemy base, and somehow rallied and won. No other genre of game,at least in my experience, creates those sort of ‘scream at your computer in exhilaration’ moments.

      • Artiforg says:

        If you go on the dota dev forum the majority of posts about matchmaking are people complaining about the stomp/stomped games. Having said that it’s usually because they have/their opponents have been matched with a new player who ends up (through no fault of their own) feeding the opponent/themselves and the game quickly escalates in one sides favour.

        I’ve got a 1000 hours in Dota 2 now and I’ve been on both ends of the stomp spectrum. Being stomped by a team much more skilled than your own isn’t much fun, but at least it’s over (fairly) quickly. Stomping another team is fun the first time as you feel uber-skilled but it’s all fairly hollow. More fun are the balanced matches that could go anyway right up until the teams are pushing into each others bases as at this point anything could happen if one team/player makes a mistake in a team fight outside the base when attempting to take out the T3 towers.

        Of course comebacks happen but they are exceptional rather than in every game. Maybe I’ve been unlucky and have been matched (in my stomped matches) with higher skilled and better coordinated opponents as comebacks tend to be shortlived – E.G. team wipe of their team when attempting to take our mid racks allowing us to push to their mid T3 tower only for them to buy back on masse, slaughter us with their higher level/luxury items and then steamroller down mid lane to finish the game.

        I can take losing, I don’t get mad and scream the place down like some of the people I’ve had in my team who chat spam everyone about how it’s everyone else’s fault but their own. I just don’t like being matched with people who are far, far better than me. I’d prefer to be matched with people of my ability level.

    • WhiteHawke says:

      I too am a DoW2 -> DotA2 transfer and I completely agree that there are a lot of similar skills in play. I don’t know if you ever used it, but I worked with Kolaris on the Detailed Tooltips mod for DoW2. I really like to codify and explain things, and games like this give me an amazing outlet for that as a hobby. I wrote a guide for DotA2 on steam to explain some of the deeper mechanics after playing it for the past 2 years and just working on that has been a lot of fun for me.

      I admit though, I am really confused as to why DotA2 is so popular. I know why I like it. I love complex systems within complex systems and I love breaking those systems down and weaponizing the components in a multiplayer game through memorization and mastery. Not many people love those things I just said (although I certainly wish they did), and yet they play the game continually in ignorance while somehow still managing to enjoy it.

      I guess I just wanted to say (as someone who almost completely understands everything about DotA mechanically), that I don’t understand why it is so popular, or why most people find it fun. I know that information is probably not very useful in the context of this ongoing discussion, but perhaps it provides a point of reference that can be incorporated into a sound theory of “why people like DotA”.

  15. chiablo says:

    In the client, it shows how many unique players there are per month: it easily reaches over 5 million. Like the current players, this is probably just the non-Asian players.

    Riot claims they have 32 million players for LoL: http://www.gamesindustry.biz/articles/2012-10-12-league-of-legends-32-million-monthly-active-users

    • redsoxman says:

      However, due to LoL’s refer-a-friend mechanic that state is INCREDIBLY hollow. Let me put it in perspective. I have 3 accounts which are now level 30 and one which is level 24. I will usually play once a month or so on those accounts, so right there I count as 4 people for that 32 million stat.

      Then you need to take into account smurfs, which are people (like me) who abuse the fact that making a LoL account takes about 2 seconds and requires ZERO (you can choose a random email, you don’t need to verify anything) from the player.

      I have 10 or so accounts between levels 5 and 10 (again, due to incentives by Riot to recruit people) which will get played every month at least.

      In other words I alone count for about 15 “players” for that 32 million number. I have a friend who probably counts as 50 or so (he has over 100 accts).

      TL:DR – LoL’s player-base numbers that ARE NOT concurrent numbers are absolutely pointless because, due to the incentives provided by Riot, people make smurf accounts to help their mains.

      • glocks4interns says:

        The 32 million is active players who have logged in during the past month. You log into all of your level 5 smurfs monthly? I’m impressed. I think they’ve also reported concurrent players in the millions.

  16. Vando says:

    Good to see an attempt at shining a light on the competitive side of these games, but augh please at least write/edit to a consistent style, that ’7th grade book report’ comment above isn’t far off the mark. Quality writing is one of RPS’s hallmarks guys, c’mon :/

  17. Turin Turambar says:

    First, I will say I don’t like the ARTS term, because it excludes games like Smite or Awesomenauts. And “dota clone” is a bit like “doom clone” it’s fine at first but as the genre grows, it’s not a good term. So MOBA, then (even if the meaning of the acronym is very silly).

    I think part of the success is that MOBA games are the closest to a new genre in videogames. We had decades of action games, strategy (in TBS and RTS variants), rpg, simulation, racing, sports, puzzle, and adventure games. While MOBA games at first seems just a mix of RTS and action with a touch of RPG systems (technically, they can be a modded rts, like the original Dota), once you play a few games you notice it really is different to a normal RTS or action or RPG game. It really is something different altogether.

    I remember the lack of variety in map seemed so weird at first… and later you find the truth, the variety of heroes is way more important. The sheer variety of roles and the unique mechanics of lots of them, it’s almost having a dozen of different games inside a single MOBA game.

    One of the key mechanics is how they treat deaths. In fact it’s more important than the learning process (there are other uber complex games with lots of learning that didn’t enjoy the success of LoL or DOTA2). Think not in RTS, but in other team based games, like CoD or Battlefield or Quake. You die, you respawn and try to kill the enemy again. The end. Here, death is something important, you feed gold and xp to the enemy with each death, the time you are dead is time you aren’t winning gold/xp, and their team have an advantage in numbers while you are out. All that combines in a way that makes deaths so very important. Players know this, there is a pressure to not feed, so while you play there is an incredible tension of being in front of the enemy, trying it to do it well but being so incredibly careful because there could be a gank coming in any moment.
    It’s a bit like football, yes the scores aren’t high, but it’s all about the “tension”, not the “action”.

    Speaking of sports, it’s a very sport like game. You have two teams trying to win over the other, you have a strong focus on teamplay (and positioning, and game awareness), and you have roles you have to assign between players (ad carry, mage, support, tank, jungler, assassin, etc) and you have meta-strategies a bit like sport formations (1-2-1 with jungler, 2-1-2, etc).

    edit: another interesting point is the game being 5vs5. What an ideal number. With something bigger like 10vs10, it would dilute the skill and importance of each player, and it would make harder the coordination between everyone. In other words, in a team of 5, YOU matter. But it’s still high enough to allow different tactics like which lane to push, who goes in each lane, how to support each other, when to defend and when to attack, synergies between players, etc

  18. DrGonzo says:

    It’s not the most popular game on Steam because it’s good though is it? CoD is one of the most popular games on the planet, but it’s not because of it’s depth and complexity.

    • Premium User Badge

      ffordesoon says:

      If the possession of “depth and complexity” is your yardstick for judging whether a game is good or not, Dota 2 certainly fits that bill. If you don’t like it, fine, but comparing it to CoD in any fashion is hilariously wrongheaded.

      Also, CoD is very very good at what it does. What it does is not something I’m particularly interested in, but I wouldn’t call it a bad game by any means. In fact, I’d say most popular games are quite good at doing what they do, even if it’s not always to my taste. It annoys me when people can’t tell the difference between a bad game (Ride To Hell: Retribution) and a game that does nothing for them (CoD).

  19. Cytrom says:

    A billion people can play it and i will still find it boring…

  20. analydilatedcorporatestyle says:

    E Sport, gaze at my holy hoop and enter the ring if you dare.

    E Sports * 1000, YAY!

    E Sports, it’s a sport with an e in front of it.

    E Sports, foam fingers, Yay!

    E Sports Get tee fuck!!!

  21. Radiant says:

    I don’t understand why people play this.
    I know it’s a massive time sink, You know it’s a massive time sink.
    It’s a game spider hole.

    So why would I subject myself to literally hours of grief?
    It’s like 500,000 people all playing cricket.

    • subedii says:

      Because… I think it’s fun… and not grief?

      As for Time Sink: In short term matches I agree. It requires more commitment than most online games since matches can last a while.

      Over the course of the time I’m probably going to remain interested in the game? I completely disagree.

      Let me put it this way: I recently picked up Payday 2. And it’s a fun game, don’t get me wrong. But like almost EVERY OTHER online game today, it locks all its skills and abilities behind a fun and involving unlock system wherein you have to grind for tens of hours before you can get the highest tier and most fun / involving perks and gameplay mechanics.

      Which is freaking terrible for me. I’ll be blunt, I don’t believe I’m EVER going to play Payday 2 long enough for me to have unlocked everything on a single class, let alone the other three. I will be bored with the title well before then. Of this I am almost certain.

      You want to talk time-sinks. Dota 2 gives me access to everything. Every hero. Every ability, every shop item, right from the start. Every fun thing I want to try and every loony thing I want to experiment with, I will be able to, and I don’t have to throw in 100+ hours to be able to.

      To be frank, I consider it far less of a time-sink than the majority of multiplayer games I’ve played over the past several years. Even freaking Company of Heroes 2 pulled this tripe on me.

      • morse says:

        It’s interesting to me that a few people have mentioned that they are repelled from trying it, or trying to enjoy it, based on their friend’s game hours accumulation. I’m actually in that boat. A close friend offered a copy on steam and I turned it down for this reason. Sort of like, hey- free heroin?

    • misterT0AST says:

      It has the twitchy action from FPS games, all the charracter progression of rpgs, all the social aspects of a MMO, heavy resource management problems like survival games, the character roster of a fighting game.
      It literally is every game ever, condensed in 60 minutes.

      • neolith says:

        I have not played many MOBAs and certainly not a lot of DOTA2, but I very, very much doubt that it has to offer “all the social aspects of a MMO”.

        • redsoxman says:

          It offers as much socializing potential as a raid or a 5 man dungeon while you are IN game, and when you are out it provides all of the same stuff.

    • LionsPhil says:

      Lumping cricket in the same foul grouping as MOBAs?

      Custard! Who is this gentleman, how did he get in here, and why has he not yet been ejected from the premeses?

      • danielfath says:

        I think, that’s because premeses don’t exist yet as a word. Him not being ejected is mainly due to not insulting anyone or anything of importance.

    • deadly.by.design says:

      Your time sink claims are justified, though I think it’s naturally inflated in this genre due to games taking anywhere from 20 – 60 minutes.

      That said, unlike other time sink games, at least I can play it without feeling like I’m on some kind of grind treadmill. The items and levels don’t matter, so I get to focus on (hopefully) having fun with friends and learning the game. It’s not chasing some carrot dangled above my head, like max level, gear or some epic mount. (i.e., stuff that doesn’t matter) It’s more like chess. Okay, maybe chess where you can dress up your pieces with clothing you find…

    • DentMan06 says:

      Time sink? And who are YOU to judge what a time sink is? Truth be told, everyone, no matter what their hobbies are, should seek BALANCE.

      If you have balance in life, then your time sinks are just those. Having a hobby of cycling, playing video games, or drawing should make no difference. They are all time sinks.

      You may say “well cycling and drawing GIVE you something back though. What do video games give back?” I’ve made many friends online who I now consider close. That’s a big one. I’ve also be inspired to learn how to 3D model because of video games. Spending time with friends, good stories, etc..

      Take The Last of Us, for example. I equate that game to reading a book… but instead, you’re PLAYING it. Fantastic storytelling. I guess experiences is the big one here.

      Hobbies are hobbies. Once we start judging each one, we’ve lost the point of having one.

      • deadly.by.design says:

        It’s a fine line. I can objectively say that dumping 2k hours into a game would be a waste of *my* time. I’m pretty sure my wife wouldn’t appreciate it either, considering what I could do by adding even half that time to more productive activities. Work more, vacation more, freelance jobs, more time with loved ones, etc. We’ve got to balance our lives and it’s something everyone needs to work out individually.

        The older I get, though, the more I have the personal conviction that gaming should be something done sparingly. I enjoy them, but I see them as a short-sighted use of my time. I’m getting to that phase of life where you start doing more future-oriented thinking.

        Disclosure: 300+ hrs in Dota 2 over the past year

  22. misterT0AST says:

    I want to write 10 pages on how Dota 2 is the best gaming experience I’ve ever had in my life. And I played heavy RPGS, good RTSs good shooters and very good platformers. Nothing comes close.

  23. Wedge says:

    It always seems weird to me the massive numbers these games boast about, and yet I know absolutely nobody that plays them. Maybe because the people that play them don’t play anything else, and thus I wouldn’t know them?

    • misterT0AST says:

      I play them, EVERYONE I know plays them, because I basically force them to. And it sucked them in and never let them go. Both they and I play a whole lot of every kind of videogame.
      You can’t know a single person who plays them. Either you’re part of the big clusters of people that play or you’re part of those people who hate the constant flaming and don’t see the appeal.
      If you knew someone who played it he would be begging you and everyone else on his knees to join him in his glorious wars.
      With friends it’s just something incredible. You and your friends against the world.

    • Cytrom says:

      I think you found the key to the mystery.

    • LionsPhil says:

      Maybe they’re all to busy espousing its virtues on the Internet and getting angry at anyone who doesn’t agree to actually play any more.

      • analydilatedcorporatestyle says:

        I think they are busy phoning a friend, or was it phowning a friend, god knows but apparently schadenfreude plays a big part in it, I really haven’t got a clue, as I too know nee fucker that plays it!

      • Aldehyde says:

        And yet all I see in all these comment threads for every Dota article (or any other similar game) are people saying how much they hate the genre. Making fun of the genre and the people who play them. Saying how much of a waste of time it is. Saying that it’s stupid. Saying that its affiliation with E-sports makes it silly. It only has one map, must be terrible.

        I see people who like the genre respond but mostly to defend against incredibly ignorant and arrogant people who have formed their oppinions based on nothing other than something stupid like how many hours his/her friend has played.

        Of course, there are ignorant and arrogant fans of the genre as well but pretty much all I see (this thread is a fantastic example) is people who don’t like the genre sit in front of their computer and talk shit.

        • LionsPhil says:

          Try reading the rest of the posts, then.

          • analydilatedcorporatestyle says:

            Now that is a hook, spawn, grief, ganking response!

            50 vitual E Sports points sir! Spend them as you see fit!

  24. Advanced Assault Hippo says:

    I think perhaps the article could have been condensed, edited and made a bit more succinct – as a non-Dota player I found it pretty hard-going.

    But I get the overall impression; it’s broad and has a lot of depth. Doesn’t really interest me though.

  25. Delodax says:

    Wow. Respect your passion, just didn’t expect such a biased article drenched in fanboyism on rock paper shotgun. Even had the mandatory MOBA rage at the end :o

    • Juan Carlo says:

      If this is to be a regular feature, I’ll be interested to see how the others read. I think a regular feature on e-sports is a good idea, but not sure if the above article’s format and tone would be the best way of handling it.

  26. vivlo says:

    Dota 2 has made a racist of me.
    Now i hate Russians.

    • Fenix says:

      Yeah same for me. Before playing DotA 2* I didn’t even know what cyka or pizdec meant, now I just need to scroll up a chat log of any random game I have played to be disgusted by my pungent racism.

      And to think my dad’s half Russian…

      *Back in the old Garena wc3 dota days, there were Russians, but not so many of them. I do remember being incredibly annoyed at the Chinese in the EU HLR rooms talking in chat with their fonts that didn’t show up for anyone else and the flood of blank messages though.

  27. Simbosan says:

    Jumping into a pit of teenage basement warriors spewing the words ‘faggot’ and ‘gay’, trolling and griefing.

    I can’t wait!

    No wait… yes I can.

    • Nick says:

      hasn’t been my experience on the whole, just occasionally, but thats what the report feature is for and they’ll be silenced soon enough.

      • Premium User Badge

        darkChozo says:

        Pretty much. Riot’s released statistics suggesting that slurs are the first thing to go when you introduce a proper report/review system, and I’m guessing the same holds for Dota. Turns out that it’s pretty easy to guess that the guy calling people the N-word is probably an asshole.

        Nowadays it’s almost entirely rage of the “is he an asshole or just abrasive” sort that’s not quite so easy to weed out.

        • subedii says:

          Yeah I only came into things after the report function had been added, and my experience has been largely the same.

          To be honest, I haven’t had much cause to use the report button except when I was literally just starting out, and some of the other guys unfamiliar with the system were trying to grief their team mates. They weren’t aware that’s a swift ticket to a banning.

          These days the most I see is actually the converse, sometimes people actively asking post-game for positive reps.

    • Moraven says:

      Which happens in every online game. You just see it more since there are a lot more players.

  28. Premium User Badge

    ffordesoon says:

    To me, the appeal of Dota 2 is pretty obvious. It’s the RTS as a fighting game.

    • futabot says:

      Not only that, MOBAs are generally the RTS as a Skullgirls. Some mechanical grind, most of it is intuitive.

      I mean, there’s nothing in any MOBA that comes to the 1-frame link treadmill. I’m so thankful for that.

  29. Commissar Choy says:

    I like DOTA2 because its mechanics are incredibly tight.

    [E]: When did RPS commenters assume every mutiplayer game is awful because of other people? People are surprisingly nice in games sometimes friends.

  30. MarcP says:

    “it requires you to invest some much time in learning an incredible amount information that has NO OTHER USE and is completely useless outside the game.”

    You get as much as you put in.

    Passively memorize build orders, team compositions or super secret victory recipe someone else fed you = useless knowledge.
    Proactively learn about the underlying systems to the point you can develop your own strategies and understand the game on a deeper level, ultimately abstracting everything = skills relevant everywhere in life.

    i.e. knowing the Hammer of Punchitude costs 500 gold pieces is in itself useless. But understanding why the Hammer of Punchitude costs 500 gold pieces, how it fits in the overall balance, the implications it has on the rest of the game is knowledge you should be able to tranpose to other settings. Be it in a video game, in the job market or in a social situation, breaking down a system will challenge and exercise the same set of skills.

    Is there faster ways to do b) for better returns, if self-improvement is your ultimate goal, sure. Games have the advantage of being fun, something you actually want to do.

    • MarcP says:

      Meant to reply to Pan Vidla. Obviously the RPS comment system is one code I have yet to crack.

  31. Synesthesia says:

    I believe part of the appeal comes from the rpg build part. It is a condensed, one hour build, from lvl0, straight out of the fountain, to a fully decked, lvl 25 carry destroying everything. You farm your gold, you get your items, you win/lose. I think it’s duration has a lot to do with its appeal. And of course, the infinite black hole of hero and item interactions you can make. To everyone who say it’s repetitive: It is not. There are over a 100 heroes, each of who have AT LEAST 3 powers, and god knows how many items. You can combine 5 of them on each side (which is assymetrical) the combinations are endless. No match is even remotely like the last one.

  32. Enkinan says:

    I installed after some GW2 friends were raving about it. They then proceeded to tell stories of staying up all night and missing work because of playing so long. That made me wary of getting sucked in to it because I have very little self control and am highly competitive. So now I see the icon every day and choose to play my backlog of single player stuff instead.

    I can see the appeal though.

  33. Ako says:

    I’m always confused by how much hate those games attract. I mean i never seen anyone insulting another entire genre and it’s player base.

    • TehK says:

      This! I really don’t get it.
      I mean it’s fine that people don’t enjoy it and we don’t need to talk about the reputation of the communtiies of those games. But that doesn’t mean I didn’t enjoy my 200 something hours I’ve put into it. And that’s coming from someone who’s just started Dota2 in June without having played HoN, LoL or the original Dota before.

    • Premium User Badge

      darkChozo says:

      Really? It’s depressingly common, at least in the video game world. MMOs get it, JRPGs get it, modern military shooters get it, sports games get it, etc. etc.

      • Ako says:

        True, but not as much. And I feel that your examples are more regarded with contempt than hate. Or at least that’s my impression.

    • Premium User Badge

      Malibu Stacey says:

      Guess CoD vs Battlefield doesn’t exist in your world.
      Guess PlayStation 3/2/1 vs Xbox(360)/Dreamcast/Gamecube doesn’t/didn’t exist in your world.
      Guess Quake [1-3] vs Unreal [Tournament] didn’t exist in your world.

      Guess Commodore vs Spectrum didn’t exist in your world.

      Guess you missed the whole history of videogames ever.

  34. John Funk says:

    Anyone who’s curious about getting into ARTS/MOBAs should check out the LoL world championship starting this weekend. It’s roughly similar to DOTA2 in terms of general strategy/how the game works/what makes it exciting, and you get all the GET HYPE SON of a massive offline event that you may have missed if you didn’t tune in to the Dota 2 Invitational 3 tournament in August.

    From here, once you’ve seen how exciting it can be in the moment / with good commentators, you can decide A.) if the genre sounds fun to you and B.) which game you’d rather play, the crisper/more accessible LoL or the more complex/deep Dota.

  35. lordfrikk says:

    I don’t even play DotA 2 because I suck at it but, boy, do I love watching the International Tournament every year, it’s good fun.

  36. zin33 says:

    “This is no casual game”
    team multiplayer based about you with a team of randoms playing against randoms. no ratings anywhere to be seen (even if you make your whole 5 man team) no 1V1 modes or anything alike and the few of my friends that play it are nothing but what id call casual gamers. (they mostly play stuff like WoW, CoD, and DOTA. single player games ONLY if theyre very accessible and even then they will lose interest pretty quick)

    can someone tell me why dota is considered hardcore? that annoys me because i cant see many reasons for calling it so.
    only that its not easy to get into at first and sure theres a lot of heroes and stuff so you gotta play a lot to remember it, but you could say the same about WoW.
    imagine if you put a new player into WoW arenas at level 90. he will have to spend a lot of time to learn it and itll be really tough at first but that doesnt mean WoW isnt casual

    • Ergates_Antius says:

      Maybe because people who make the Hardcore/Casual games/gamer distinction are utter morons?

    • DentMan06 says:

      Actually, there can be such a distinction between hardcore and casual. What makes Dota2 a “hardcore” game lies in its extremely high learning curve. It isn’t simply controlling a hero and running around… there are LOTS of aspects to the game that will help you either win or lose the game.

      The distinction needs to be within games, not of the games as a whole. Sure, WoW is mostly casual, but there is a hardcore element to it. Dota2 just happens to have a lot more of that “hardcore” element than most games.

      • zin33 says:

        i know it is quite complex and has hundreds of things you need to know (like WoW)
        and yes WoW has some stuff that could be considered hardcore such as top level arenas
        my point is a ton of people play this game “just for fun” (like 99% of players in WoW) and sure the top tier players are awesome and whatnot but i hate it when they label most dota2 players as hardcore when most people just play with strangers against strangers
        how come in such a competitive game most players arent crying out loud for a public leaderboard / rating system for teams that want to get a little more serious?
        like the league system in starcraft for instance. reaching something like platinum with a team would be a really nice goal

  37. DentMan06 says:

    DotA is one of the best multiplayer games ever created. End of story.

    For those of you who said stupid things like “I played like an hour but was bored to death…” – you are a friggin moron. There is no other explanation. There is 100% NO POSSIBLE WAY that you could understand things like:
    1) The drafting phase – making the right hero selection while taking into account your team composition, the opposing team’s composition, how to counter said heroes, how to pick a lineup to to defeat the other team’s push/farm/ganking strategy.
    2) The nuances of playing each role. Knowing, as a SUPPORT, when to gank/rotate, being aware of enemy ward placement in order to counter-ward, pulling and stacking for your lane, keeping the other team from pulling and stacking, etc.
    3) The nuances of playing the CARRY: maximizing farms and last hits while harassing the enemy, thinking about item choices that will give you the upper hand against the enemy team’s lineup, when to keep farming and when to rotate to help out, knowing when to pop your BKB in the middle of a fight, positioning, landing skillshots
    4) The nuances of being a JUNGLER: Maximizing farm, item choice, warding, when to help gank the lane, how to split push to ensure an advantage, knowing when to join in to take down the lane tower

    All of that without even touching on the actual mechanics of playing a hero with FOUR abilities. When and WHO should you stun should a fight break out? Who should you use your sheepstick on? Positioning to ensure you can get the stun off on the right target without getting reversed on. How about how to come back from being wayyyy down in the game?

    All of these aspects lead to a game where choices are deeply involved and EVERY SINGLE PLAYER on a team counts. Oh, you played the tutorial and got bored? Too bad you have zero clue of what a real-world game of DotA is about. But it’s fine because you’re missing out and me and every other DotA player on this board knows that.

    And if you REALLY do still believe it was “boring” and not “for you” and all that other nonsense, then WHY THE HELL ARE YOU READING AN ARTICLE ABOUT DOTA2? You played it, it wasn’t for you, then stfu and go read about Kingdom Hearts.

    And lastly, to those busters who talked about high level e-sports being meaningless/boring/whatever and that calling someone a “master” or “pro” in the same sentence as “video games” is funny – Because millions upon millions of people play video games. We like to see the action, the competition, what it’s like to see the best of the best. Quite frankly, they are “masters” of video games… but of the ones WE LOVE. Video games are no less of a hobby than football or baseball or skateboarding. For anyone to demean the competitive scene of something that MILLIONS of people enjoy is ignorant, stupid, and insulting to video games as a whole.

    Please go suck a butt and get the hell out of this Dota2 article chumps.

    • rightyeauhuh says:

      The MOBA community in action ladies and gentlemen!

      • Premium User Badge

        dog says:

        good point :)
        whenever i see someone saying “the DOTA community isn’t that bad” i’ll remember this unprovoked rant :)

    • zin33 says:

      and yet for such a competitive game theres no rating system in place for teams that want to get serious?
      i also prefer 1v1 if im going to play something competitively. you cant blame anyone else but you

    • Thysios says:

      Pro tip: Not everyone likes the same games. Believe it or not, it’s possible for some people to simply not enjoy this type of game.

      Deal with it and move on.

      • danielfath says:

        Poppycock! I demand sameness of the masses. How else will I keep them subjugated by utilizing a fiendish game I crafted?

        NOTE: I may or may not be a fictional dictator of DotLandia.

    • bstard says:

      I approve of your style and attempt for an informative post. No, not trolling, I really do. Just one minor issue here: it’s bullcrap. The best multiplayer game ‘IS’? lol it sounds like a 5 carry noob team who all just have bought the same aura item. From the perspective of a dedicated Dota2 player your post makes sense though.

    • gunny1993 says:

      hmmm I can do those things on smite thanks.

    • Volcanu says:

      SIGH.

      I started reading RPS to get away from puerile, spittle-flecked forum posts like this one.

  38. sirflimflam says:

    I can’t get passed the hostile community. Will never be able to get into the game proper.

    • bstard says:

      Ah come on, Valve already had been using the Iron Fist approach to the bullies. If the current community is too harsh for you go build that wall a bit higher.

  39. yuri999 says:

    This reads like an advert from the Valve PR department. RPS I am disappoint…

  40. P.Funk says:

    I don’t fucking understand you people who criticize this game.

    All people like to do is complain about how banal and streamlined and lacking in depth mainstream games have become and here we see people criticizing it for being TOO engrossing, TOO deep, TOO much of a game you can spend time learning to play well.

    What the actual fuck do you people actually want? I mean I can play Counterstrike, master that game, play 10-15 minute rounds but burn 3 or 4 straight hours playing it, but hey thats cool, everyone knows CS is cool. I can throw my life away playing an RTS like Starcraft or Supreme Commander or something, burn close to an hour per round, master build orders and 1v1 or 2v2 all day long and hey its cool, we know those are wicked games.

    Why does DOTA suddenly not get credit for how good it is? When I started to play DOTA I didn’t get it. My friend said “Dude this shit is so wicked” and I played and I was just not into it. I indulged my friend but I was SHIT. Nothing went right, I died a lot, and the community is bitchy as hell “learn to play noob”. Then one day it snapped. I understood. My friend had be play Chaos Knight because its a simple character to learn. Once I understood things suddenly it felt deep, complex, and challenging. Its so challenging. There’s so much communication required and good timing. When to mass for a team fight or when to stay pushing lanes.

    My friend plays Wisp and he does this cool move where he’ll tether to me then warp up to a place where 2 of ours are maybe fighting 2 of theirs and he’ll drop me and him in right behind them then I unleash all my moves, try and get at least one kill, and because of his power after a few seconds it warps us back. Its so badass if you time it correctly.

    This game is deep, this game has a great learning curve that means you will get better and better in time. I don’t know why people are upset about a game that has a learning curve thats more fulfilling than most online games.

    If you think DOTA is stupid you’re an idiot. Its okay to think its not your cup of tea. Its okay to say “I’d never invest that much time in a game”, its alright to not be interested whatsoever, but I ask you how is a 1 hour game of 5v5 any different than a 4 hour session of a normal 32v32 FPS. Actually, anybody who’s ever played Arma should instantly understand the time investment and the learning curve. This is a game that deeply rewards teamwork and rewards teams that learn to be better over time. Most Arma rounds will last about an hour, and its hard to make a mission thats good that won’t. Why do we not bitch about nerdy Arma players and their time sink?

    Imagine a game you could play for 5 or 10 years however often you like and in that time you’re getting better and better. I think thats way better than having to get good at a new RTS every year or a new shooter. Frankly I think its a miracle that a game this difficult is this popular. It gives me hope for gaming, even if I’m not an enormous DOTA player, I’m a pretty big DOTA fan.

  41. dorobo says:

    YOU FIND A MATCH.. YOU START PLAYING.. AND TWO PLAYERS JUST QUIT IT 20 MINUTES IN TO THE GAME :] YOU JUST LOST AN HOUR OF YOUR TIME IF YOU DECIDE TO STAY JUST BECAUSE SOME DUMB KIDS DONT GIVE A FUCK – HAPPENS ALOT. YOU UNINSTALL THE GAME AND DO OTHER THINGS :D

  42. warcroft says:

    I was very impressed by the game, but have only played it for about ten hours.
    I totally get the competitive side but. . . I wanted more. Not a fault of the game, just my tastes.
    For one I would like more maps. And secondly I wanted a campaign sort of thing, like Torchlight. . . but I guess thats why I love Torchlight. (You know theres a MOBA mod available [and still in development] for Torchlight?)

    DOTA is a great game and unbelievable thats it free!
    But not my kinda game for the long term competitiveness.

  43. frightlever says:

    Great guide. Must admit the whole genre has baffled me, but that explained it all very well. I’ve no real interest in playing but it feel more like an informed decision now.

  44. BlueTemplar says:

    Though Dota 2 has a late-start in this new global market compared to other strategy games

    I’m sorry, but AeonsOfStrife-likes games aren’t strategy games. Hell, even most RT”S” games aren’t technically “strategy” games, more “tactics” games (not that strategy isn’t present, like in most video games actually, but that the focus is usually more on the action).

    P.S.: I like “ASSFAGGoTS” :)

  45. Gentlemoth says:

    ITT: People feeling smug that they don’t “waste” their time playing games.

  46. brotherthree says:

    Why do people play MOBAs?

    Free to play,
    Easy to learn,
    IQ’s of ~50 can thrive.

    There’s some decent people playing, no doubt, but the fact the door’s flung wide open means the vast majority of the community is cancer.

  47. Mark says:

    Brilliant brilliant game. Played about 100 hours and still know nothing and suck terribly but it’s a lot of fun. Started playing in a team with 5 guys from work during lunchtimes just this week and I think everyone is hooked.

    MOBAs are for RTSs what Counter-strike was for for FPS games – simple but with enormous depth and potential for skilled play, finely tuned, competitive and team-based. If you weren’t around when CS first came out (as a HL beta mod not standalone) you won’t know what it felt like to play that sort of game online for the first time compared to what was around before. I instantly found CS far more compelling and tense than any DM or CTF in the Quake style games the preceded it.

    Don’t expect to be able to judge or understand DOTA in your first few hours of play though, it would be akin to playing chess for the first time against an experienced player, losing a couple of times and saying “OMG CHESS IS TERRIBLE”. Those first few games are just simply nothing like what will come after once you have better understanding of a few things and what is going on. Dota is complex, the more you put in the more you get out.

    If you don’t want to put anything in and expect to be entertained immediately from the first two minutes, it perhaps isn’t the game for you.

    Alternatively you could do what 99% of people around the world do with almost everything and assume that things you don’t naturally like/understand are awful and that the people that like them are stupid. I don’t like or like chess, ice hockey or tennis or but I can understand why other people might and don’t begrudge them their enjoyment of these things. For some reason DOTA / MOBAS fall into the category of things people love to hate but probably really don’t know that much about. It’s cool not to like popular things I guess.

    • DangoDaikazokou says:

      I know that feel bro, I didn’t like Counter Strike that much although I still could appreciate the ingenious team strategy element that it offered but still didn’t play that much because no rail guns :p

  48. Glentoran says:

    The problem I have isn’t with the game (and on a similar level, games such as Smite)- I love the complexity, I love the learning curve, I love the options, choices and sheer enormity of it all. The problem I have is with a community that hates you simply for not being very good at the game. Being reported, accused of being a “feeder” and suchlike doesn’t feel good, and such unjust abuses put a lot of people off the genre.

    I really do enjoy the mechanics and the whole rationale behind this ultra-addictive multi-player battling. I even enjoyed the level of responsibility that is thrust upon you, being that it’s 5v5 and your actions matter.

    But enjoying the game doesn’t seem to be enough for the community. Due to the fact that the game is 5v5 and advancement is based largely on player-kills, your actions really do matter. Enormously. So if you love the game, but aren’t very good at it, or even if you’re trying out an unfamiliar character, you get berated and abused by your 4 so-called team-mates.

    I didn’t like this element, and THAT is one of the big obstacles that stops people coming back after sampling this wonderful, engaging and truly fun game.

    • dasstefan says:

      People don´t go back because it´s not like LoL and not that casualfriendly

      • DangoDaikazokou says:

        LoL is in no way casual friendly either. I’ve had better experience with the DotA crowd than with the LoL crowd

        PS : I play both games

  49. DangoDaikazokou says:

    I liked DotA the first time I saw it. My cousin was playing with his college friends on Garena, I had completed the reign of chaos and the frozen throne campaigns for warcraft III so I was able to grasp a little of what was going on as he explained the game and kept blabbering advanced mechanics like Mirana shooting arrows out her ass ( leap back arrow, not possible in DotA 2 :/ ) everyone was like abusing each other and my cousin was like fuck you am gonna shoot arrows out my ass, it was really hilarious.

    Although what I said above may not make any sense but it was a defining moment in my life, I have 1200 Hrs clocked in DotA 2 on my steam and close to 200 hrs on Garena DotA. So I can say that DotA is an integral part of my life now. I have played a lot of other games as well ( I even sneak in a game or 2 of LoL some days without telling my DotA buddies ) but nothing comes even close as to the shear complexity and competitiveness of DotA. Its like playing a game of chess but instead of regular 8×8 board you have 100×100 the pieces can have many different kinds of move pattern instead of just one move pattern per piece and its in real time. And when you excel at something like that the thrill simply takes your breath away.

    Steam name : Dango Daikazokou

    • DangoDaikazokou says:

      BTW I don’t understand why some people try to force this or other games on people. Everyone doesn’t have the same taste or skillset required for everything. You cannot expect everyone to enjoy or be good at chess or table tennis.

      Although dismissing it IMO is laughable because its no longer a simple video game its a community of real people and real money, and its growing at a tremendous pace.

  50. rockman29 says:

    Thanks for this article RPS :)