Despite wavering player counts, Dota 2 continues to push new growth in variety of ways

By Jared Wynne


Jul 16, 2020

Reading time: 3 min

Dota 2 has seen many changes not only in terms of its gameplay, but also its market value. While still one of the most popular esports titles in existence, news hitting the scene shows that Valve’s game is at a turning point. Player numbers, new opportunities, and brand development strategies are all contributing to its transformation.

The first bit of uncertain news is that the average player count in May dropped by 1.85% from April’s 493,300. The launch of the TI10 Battle Pass should have boosted numbers, but Steam saw the opposite effect. The exact factors that caused this change are difficult to pinpoint.

What we do have are figures that demonstrate players’ fluctuating interest. January 2019 saw an even bigger dip in players, steadily falling to 378,925 since the decline began in November 2018. But the game remains at the top of pro gaming events, and that’s because of a smart and lucrative expansion of the brand over time.

For example, two documentaries, Free to Play and Dota: We the Community, celebrate the title’s history, community, and most prominent players.

On another end of the mainstream entertainment spectrum is its high-ranking place among competitive games popular on esports betting sites in the United States, earning an 18% share of the industry’s overall bets. Only League of Legends and Counter-Strike: Global Offensive stand ahead of Dota 2’s stardom in esports’ rapidly growing betting market.

Competitive marketing strategies

Any company looking to develop their image beyond the industry average knows that keeping track of market trends and other competitors is essential. This kind of research reveals useful ideas that the ambitious developers of games could implement to help more players discover it.

Dota 2’s constantly improving design factors into consumers choosing it over other titles, but the perks of smart marketing aren’t to be underestimated either, especially when it comes to such a competitive industry as online gaming.

Free experiences

In a consumerist market, it’s always refreshing to come across free stuff. What can make it that much better is knowing and feeling the high quality of the title or service. No matter the aspect of the gaming industry that’s being talked about, not charging for entertainment is a great way to earn users’ love and loyalty.

Dota 2’s developers at Valve understood the value of free-to-play from the very beginning, as it only charges for an optional subscription and for additional visual perks along the way. On top of that, Twitch and YouTube provide free information, videos, and other resources helping players to learn.

Overall, making video game experiences as accessible as possible shows an interest in fans’ happiness, and in turn improves public opinion and support.

Diverse backing

Esports would never have reached its current status without the help of established and forward-thinking brands, including both sponsors and event organizers. Some good Dota 2 news brings up a telling example of how companies today are also shaped by the obvious popularity of video games.

Blast is a digital savings tool developed exclusively for gamers, combining smart banking with a gameplay point system. After a successful partnership centered around fellow esports title Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, this company is now hosting the Dota 2 Bounty Hunt tournament alongside other sponsors including SteelSeries and KitKat. Collaborating with many different and powerful names in various sectors is a common marketing strategy among successful developers, allowing their titles’ reputation to spread across more audiences.


Finally, as a brand with a huge fan base and a lot of good material to work with, producing themed merchandise is as important and lucrative as any other potential pursuit.

While Dota 2 hasn’t yet reached the cinematic prestige Tomb Raider or Doom, the scope of items one can come across today, including mugs, mouse pads, plushies, and chairs, seems endless. Dota 2 uses plenty of inspiration and imagination in establishing both its physical and digital lines of merchandise.


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