Dota 2 is enjoying sustained growth in its player count for the first time in years.
According to Steam Charts, Dota 2’s average player count rose 0.39% in July relative to June. While that’s a minor improvement on its own, it marks four consecutive months of player count growth for Dota 2, something that hasn’t been true since the game’s prime.
The last time Dota 2 enjoyed four straight months of player count growth was between November 2015 and February 2016, which was followed by the game’s all-time player count highs in March 2016. The only other time since the game’s peak year that Dota 2’s average player count has climbed for three consecutive months was in early 2019 during the Dota Auto Chess boom.
None of these latest month-over-month increases have been individually significant, beginning with a 6% bump in April followed by monthly average player count increases all under 2%. This still comes during what is traditionally a down period on the calendar for Dota 2.
The gradual rise of the Dota 2 player count coincides with Nemestice Battle Pass and comes despite a relatively stale metagame with no major balance patch having launched since April. This suggests that Valve’s potential plan to move away from The International Battle Pass, and possibly the entirety of Dota 2 esports as a whole, is going relatively well for the company.
For the first time in a while, it doesn’t look like Dota 2 is a dead game. In fact, it’s actually looking like Dota 2 is trending in a positive direction when it comes to the game’s player count.
It’s always been obvious that the secret to growing Dota 2’s fanbase is to actually see Valve deliver regular gameplay updates and events in the game. Dota 2’s formative days and most successful years were defined by regular events and seasonal battle passes, which Valve stopped in 2017. From that point until late 2020, the only major content added in Dota 2 each year were the occasional new hero and The International Battle Pass.
Valve decided to change its approach in 2020 and has been rolling out notable content updates much more frequently over the last 10 months, including Diretide 2020, an improved new player experience, and Nemestice. That has helped Dota 2 level off its player count numbers after a brutal decline in 2020.
Building up the Dota 2 player count back to its prior 2016 levels would be a long process and Valve will need to continue regularly shipping significant content updates in order to do so. The big question for Dota 2 is whether the company behind it is up to the challenge.