Despite being six years old, Dota 2 still has a very high player count in 2019. In fact, it’s higher this year than it has been in the past.
Dota 2 saw its active player count falling fast in 2018. In July of last year, Steam players logging in hours on Dota 2 hit an all-time low of 700,000. But in January of 2019, that number suddenly started to rise. That month, over 760,000 Steam users had played Dota 2 at one point. In March, there were over one million Dota 2 players at its peak.
Although it went back down to 826,000 peak players in August, it became quite clear that Dota 2 was gaining popularity once again after a lackluster 2018.
This was largely thanks to Dota 2 Auto Chess. The first popular auto battler in the genre was released in January, right when the player spike initially happened. Dota 2 Autho Chess had created a lot of new interest in Dota2, and it reached 200,000 players in February. Popular Dota 2 personalities were getting more than 250,000 views on their Auto Chess streams.
Much like with many other newer titles – think Apex Legends and Teamfight Tactics – the novelty wore off fast. While Dota 2 Auto Chess made quite the impression when it was first announced, attention began to fade within months. Valve also created their own Dota 2 auto battler title, Dota Underlords, which became another factor in Dota 2’s decreased player count later on in the year.
Even though Dota 2’s resurgence was most likely due to the auto battler hype, many Dota 2 players feel that it doesn’t take away from the success of the original game.
Six months ago, Dota 2 still had higher player numbers than PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds and Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, both of which sat well below one million.
“It’s good in any way you look at it,” said one Reddit user. “The game gains publicity, and not ALL are playing AutoChess ONLY. Its like some of you want the playerbase to drop or something. Come on, we hit a million mark, what’s there to be angry about?”
That user went on to echo what many other players have experienced: They had reinstalled Dota 2 to check out Auto Chess. But for him, and many other players, they stuck around for more Dota action after having installed the game again.
Dota 2 saw its biggest number of peak concurrent players in March 2016. That was when 1.29 million users logged into the game at the same time. Dota 2 hasn’t beaten that record since.
But what caused such a spike back then?
Interestingly enough, there were no major updates or big patches during that time. 6.86f in February saw a nerf to Invoker, something not quite big enough to excite a playerbase to that extent. There wasn’t another patch until the end of April. It was a big one, and patch 6.87 brought the addition of many new items, a reworked map, and a lot of hero nerfs. Still, it doesn’t explain the game’s major spike in players the month before.
The International 2016 was the fourth major tournament of 2016, with a prize pool well over $20 million. But this action didn’t start until later in the year, months after the record-breaking March numbers. So it doesn’t appear that TI6 played a part in the public’s interest in Dota 2 at that point.
While it’s tough to pinpoint what exactly brought on such large numbers in Dota 2 throughout the years, one thing is for certain: The game is still going strong.
In the last 30 days, Dota 2 has had a peak player count over 758,000 on Steam and over 235,000 current players. That’s puts it at the top played Steam game, with CSGO in second at 231,000 current players. After that, numbers drop significantly, with Team Fortress 2’s 42,000 current players putting it in third place.