The DOTA 2 player count has dipped to its lowest point since January 2014, according to data from Steam Charts (via Dot Esports).
This isn’t good news. DOTA 2 did enjoy a successful 2019, reaching the one million player count milestone again for the first time in three years. In November 2019, Valve dropped the Outlanders 7.23 update, which introduced two new heroes and overhauled the game with seriously significant features and additions. It seems that Snapfire and Void Spirit haven’t been enough to attract old and new players to the game, because its numbers are continuing to dwindle into the new year. In the past month, the average player count has not surpassed 385,000 players, and the peak player count managed to reach 627,790 players. That’s the lowest it’s been since January 2014.
The DOTA 2 community have their theories as to what is going on and why it’s happening. “Personally I can’t commit these 30-60+ sessions of intense pressure to only have someone give up after a simple mistake in the early game. There’s A LOT to learn, even for someone like myself whom had almost 1,800 hours in the game…” said one commenter on Reddit. Another agreed, adding that it’s difficult to know the length of DOTA 2 matches and so it’s difficult to make time for it in a day. If fewer people are playing for these reasons, the players who are into DOTA 2 will suffer with lengthy matchmaking times. To combat this, players may be encouraged to create smurf accounts to raise their chances of finding a game. Valve has a zero-tolerance policy on these types of accounts, and what’s more, new players won’t get a good first impression of the game. New players may leave but the numbers would be inflated due to smurfing.
If there are fewer players and fewer games, the content creation side of DOTA 2 may be deterred from producing new videos or workshop items, which then diminishes the entire community. If the community destabilises, then it could be curtains for DOTA 2, as it will no longer be viable in the competitive scene for players, advertisers, and the developer itself.
It is hoped that Valve manages to find a solution for the declining player counts. Fans have suggested that it should take a leaf out of League of Legends’ book, and introduce a forgiving skill curve mode for new players to get the hang of the game.
DOTA 2 is out now for PC.
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