What is Dota 2’s player count in 2022? Is Dota 2 a dead game?

By Steven Rondina

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Jan 3, 2022

Reading time: 4 min

While Dota 2 has been in an awkward spot for years, its player count actually enjoyed strong growth in 2021 even though the year had a chance to be disastrous for Valve’s famed MOBA. 

Dota 2 has long been a distant second place behind League of Legends in terms of being the most popular, most widely played, and most culturally relevant game in the MOBA genre. Between Arcane and a number of successful spin-off titles, 2021 was another explosive year for LoL. Not only that, but a new competitor arrived in the form of Pokemon Unite on the Nintendo Switch.

Despite that, Dota 2 experienced a strong year as Valve mixed up its development approach to the game. So what was Dota 2’s player count like in 2021, and what can fans expect in 2022?

Is Dota 2 dead?

Dota 2 isn’t dead yet, and it seems to be heading in a positive direction for the first time in years. Dota 2’s player count had been in a slow and steady decline since early 2016. Though there have been a few spikes, most notably the 2019 player count boost that came from Dota Auto Chess, Dota 2 has been perceived as a sinking ship.

Valve has historically seemed content to watch its games shrivel over time and turn to dust, but this time the company seems willing to take action to improve the state of Dota 2. At least in the short term.  

How many people play Dota 2?

Dota 2 has been averaging around 450,000 unique players at any given time.

The final quarter of 2021 saw Dota 2 have average player counts over 450,000 in October, 448,000 in November, and 449,000 in December. This trend has continued into early 2022. While those numbers aren’t unheard of in Dota 2, this bucked an ugly trend in 2020 that saw the game hemorrhage players in the second half of the year and into the early months of 2021.

The trend was reversed to some degree with Nemestice in 2021, which was then reinforced further with the return of Aghanim’s Labyrinth. This is part of a larger plan with Valve to move towards a series of in-game events throughout the year rather than investing all of its development energy into The International Battle Pass.

So far this plan is working out in terms of retaining players. What impact this will have on Dota 2 esports remains to be seen.

How big is Dota 2’s player base vs. LoL?

League of Legends’ player base is several times larger than Dota 2’s.

While Steam allows websites like Steam Chats to accurately track the number of players for each game on the platform, exact numbers for League of Legends’ player count aren’t publicly disclosed. However, Riot Games has occasionally boasted about its player counts which suggest that League of Legends’ player base is about 10 times larger than Dota 2’s.

Last year, Riot Games revealed that 180 million unique users played games under the League of Legends umbrella in the month of October 2021. This encompasses League of Legends, Legends of Runeterra, Teamfight Tactics, and League of Legends: Wild Rift. It’s uncertain how many of those were just League of Legends, but it’s probable that a vast majority of those users play Riot’s primary game.

For the sake of comparison, Valve revealed that the entirety of Steam had 120 million active users in its 2020 Steam Year in Review. Given that there’s a strong chance that League of Legends’ active user tallies eclipse the total users of Steam, it goes without saying that League of Legends is many times larger than Dota 2.

What is Dota 2’s peak concurrent players?

Dota 2’s all-time peak concurrent player count came in March 2016 when the game hit 1,291,328 players. The game’s peak concurrent player count in 2021 was 756,170, which came in December, setting up a bright transition for the game into 2022.

Dota 2’s player count has contracted significantly from its peak in 2016, bottoming out in March 2021 at less than half its all-time number. By February 2017, Dota 2’s peak player counts were consistently below one million and things haven’t come close to that total since, with the exception of a temporary boom surrounding Dota Auto Chess in 2019.

It’s unclear if Dota 2’s player count will ever return to its previous heights. Valve has changed its approach to Dota 2 in a way that is yielding modest player count increases over time. But can Dota 2 fans really count on the company to maintain these practices over the long term?

Dota 2 is still a very popular game in 2022, even if it is significantly smaller than chief rival League of Legends.

Dota 2’s player counts are consistently within the top two games on Steam at any given moment. Though Counter-Strike: Global Offensive boasts the larger player count at the start of 2022, Dota 2 still flexes on the Steam player counts of such popular titles as Grand Theft Auto V, PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds, and Apex Legends.

Players can still log in and easily find a game of Dota 2 in most regions. While the game isn’t as big as it used to be, it seems like Dota 2 will be living on for a while yet.

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