How Many People Play Dota 2?

Dota 2 is played by around 10 million people each month. Yet this number is quickly decreasing and it’s not entirely clear why. In this article I will take a closer look at this issue and provide a brief analysis of the situation.

How Many People Play Dota 2 Every Day

Dota 2 began modestly, with just 52,000 average concurrent players in July 2012. However, that number grew rapidly, reaching 393,000 by January 2014, with a massive increase in this number for a few more years. The peak was reached in February 2016 at 709,000.

Andrew Poplavsky/123RF

Right now, it’s back to 2014 numbers, just below 400,000, with the peak players number right at 700,000. These numbers aren’t necessarily bad, but they’re significantly lower than those in February and March, 2019, at 580,000 (average) and ~1,000,000 (peak). That’s a massive drop. So what’s causing that fluctuation?

Why Dota 2 Has a Hard Time Retaining Its Players

Many want to know how many people play Dota 2, but an even better question is: Why do people play Dota 2? And why do they stop playing? I will give a few reasons below.

Difficulty

Dota 2 is a very difficult game. And by “difficult” I mean highly complex. There are over 100 heroes and, after the latest update, probably over 200 items. That alone gives you over 300 notions that you must fully grasp before you can understand what you’re looking at on your screen. Additionally, every hero has at least four abilities. That’s 400 more notions to learn. Add to that the mechanics of the game, and you need to know one thousand things just to play Dota casually and understand what’s going on at all times.
How much time do you think is needed to learn that many notions? Realistically, more than 1000 hours, because in every game, you get exposed to a massive amount of complexity. In fact, anyone below 2000 hours is hard to play with because they don’t have the faintest clue about what they should be doing.
For such a big game, you’d expect some serious tutorial to teach you all the fundamentals, right? Unfortunately, Valve does a poor job at this and only teaches new players the absolute minimum they need to know to play the game.
Given the difficulty of the game, Dota 2 is clearly not for everybody.

Constant Change

The second thing that players get hit with is constant change. When a big patch is released, hundreds of notions get altered, and even the most dedicated players need around a month to assimilate and adapt. This will inevitably drive players away because they don’t have the time to keep up with the latest updates. Understanding the game then becomes a full-time job.

Toxic Community

Nobody likes to lose, even if it’s for imaginary digital points. Games often last 40-60 minutes, so imagine putting in all that time only to lose because of one tiny error. Or imagine starting a game and knowing that you’ll have to wait for another 30-40 minutes until it comes to an inevitable loss simply because one of your teammates has no idea what he’s supposed to do in his role.
Teammates flame each other all the time. Some players spam the team chat, others the global chat. Some players become passive-aggressive and make terrible choices, others start screaming in their headphones. The reality of the game is harsh sometimes and not everyone can deal with it. The effort you need to put in and the stress you need to endure is often considerably higher than the satisfaction you get when you win.
And yet, in spite of all these things, Dota 2 is a brilliant game. For those who can deal with it, its community and the pain of defeat, the joy is hard to put into words. Being part of a community and having a guaranteed way to get involved in a challenging and potentially gratifying experience gives peace of mind and shelter from boredom.
So you wanted to know how many people play Dota 2? The answer is a lot, given the circumstances. And that’s a testament to how good the game actually is.

Radu Muresan

Radu Muresan

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