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Dota 2 peak player-numbers hit three-year low, PUBG could be the cause

Something is causing the active player-base of Dota 2 to decline. This should not be that alarming as players tend to take time off after The International. However, there is a pattern of stagnation here that must be pointed out.

According to SteamCharts, a third-party platform that monitors data from Steam, the last three months have seen a significant decline in the number of concurrent players.

824,297 players logged into the game at peak in July, followed by 876,395 in August, and 838,519 so far for September. In comparison, the lowest number of concurrent players was recorded at 734,998 on April 2014 in these past three years. This is the first time that the numbers have dipped so low since then.

What is worrying is that the active player-base seems to have stagnated for the game. On average, the concurrent players have remained below and just over 900,000 in 2014 and 2015 respectively. There was a surge last year where the peak number of players topped a million. However, the same figure has plummeted since the start of 2017 and continues to decline with each month.

There can be a number of reasons that account for the shrinkage of the active community this year. PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds (PUBG) is probably at the very top in that list.

The online battle royale experience has attracted a large number of players from every other popular multiplayer, and otherwise competitive, game. This includes Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, from where more than 4 million active players have jumped ship in the past months.

There is also to consider that PUBG has frequently been dominating Steam in terms of player-counts. More recently, the early access game registered 1.5 million concurrent players and has previously pushed aside Dota 2 as the top game on Steam.

However, external factors may not be the only cause for concern. Dota 2 has been riding on the current version for more than four months. Players may have grown weary of the stale meta of the game. The next patch is expected to introduce two new heroes, which might see players return. There has also been disappointment shown over the matchmaking system, which now takes into account “behavior score” more so than the actual matchmaking rating (MMR) of a player. It might be another reason for players to be taking a break from the game this year.

Dota 2 has clearly seen better days but it is important to note that ups and downs happen with every game, even if it is a popular and competitive one. The upcoming new content as well as the Pro Circuit should breathe new life into the current form of the game.