Dota 2 has had a very strong 2021, but almost all the gains the game has made in terms of player counts evaporated in September.
The final numbers for September’s player counts are in and Dota 2’s average player counts dropped about 8% to 391,082 in September according to Steam Charts. This ends five straight months of average player count gains for Dota 2 and is the lowest tally seen since March 2021.
The 8% decline is the largest month-over-month drop since September 2019. It’s also the fifth-worst month in Dota 2 history since 2014. Dota 2 settled into the third spot on Steam’s most-played games chart, trailing behind perennial top game Counter-Strike: Global Offensive and new hit MMORPG New World.
The timing of the decline is also surprising. On September 16, The International 2021 Compendium launched and gave players defined incentives to play, offering a free card pack each day after winning a game of Dota 2. Despite having this extra reason to log in and play some games, players are opting not to fire up Dota 2 at all.
The 8% decline in September is a tough blow for Dota 2, and is one of the larger dips the game has sustained in a single month. This is also one of the biggest declines for the game since Valve shifted its development schedule for the game in order to focus on more frequent events that take place throughout the year.
The good news for Valve is that there’s a short-term fix to this already incoming. The company stated in May that two in-game events were set to take place instead of the traditional The International Battle Pass. The first turned out to be Nemestice, and the second was promised to come “some time after The International.”
Given that The International 2021 was still slated to take place in August at that point, it’s a fairly safe assumption that this new event will be ready immediately after The International 2021.
What will that new Dota 2 event be? Another battle pass-focused event like Nemestice is definitely possible, as is the return of Diretide given that The International will end on October 17.
It still seems as though Dota 2 is struggling to bring in new players. While regular in-game events can keep the established player base engaged, Valve will need to find a way to add some fresh blood at some point.