League vs Dota by County

This is your Gaming on Data: League of Legends vs Dota Trends

Search Trends of Google

Insight on what’s popular                                                   

But only relative


The popularity of the Action Real Time Strategy (ARTS) or MOBA games have shifted around between two main contenders ever since the genre took off with DotA (Defense of the Ancients) in 2004–2005 as the popular Warcraft 3 mod and picked up as standalone games due to their popularity. Now there are only two contenders for the most popular ARTS/MOBA games, League of Legends and DotA 2.

What I originally set out was to see how popular these two franchises are because in the US and much of the gaming communities that I frequent, there is a very strong influence of League of Legends and Riot Games over DotA 2 and I wanted to see if this was persistent across other areas of the world.

M. Bison vs Balrog

(what do my headers even mean)


Search Frequency based on Google Trends
Search Frequency based on Google Trends on a week-by-week basis


This graph is pulled from Google Trends which is a bit odd to understand at first. The way Google Trends data works is based on search frequency and a max frequency of searches on a week by week basis. A score of 100 means that this term was searched for the most compared to all other weeks that you’re comparing.


Dota 2 Annouced. Look at how high my spike went. (Innuendo not included)
Dota 2 Annouced. Look at how high my spike went. (Innuendo not included)

This disclaimer is important because if you see the spike in 2011 when DotA 2 was announced at Gamescom 2011, there is an enormous difference search traffic for DotA then there ever was for LoL at even its best times of year. This is partly due to the evolution of MOBAs where much of the LoL community originally started with DotA and was eager to jump back into something familiar, but the shift in philosophy of MOBA mechanics had already set in and many players didn’t want to go back to the slower paced, more punishing DotA franchise.

Around the World

(on repeat)

League vs Dota by County
League vs Dota by County

What I found interesting was the global difference between the popularity of both franchises. The first answer is yes, LoL is more popular across much of the industrialized world spanning its search traffic across 5 continents and emerging on the sixth (Africa). But DotA isn’t counted out considering they have a large presence in high density countries like China and the Philippines but also seem to penetrate areas that LoL don’t have good coverage in. Burma, Mongolia, Bolivia and Peru seem to be much more invested in DotA than LoL. This could be due to the free to play nature of DotA, but I don’t want to insinuate too much without more data, saving this thought for another time. (checkity check)

But what’s more interesting is that the US isn’t even the biggest consumer of League of Legends traffic. This title is left for the majority of the EU, plus the Philippines (why so popular to Filipinos?!?). The US is actually rated 28th in search traffic for LoL.

Region league of legends dota
Brunei 100 12
Greece 81 4
Bulgaria 79 5
Philippines 76 100
Portugal 65 1
Sweden 65 5
Denmark 64 3
Serbia 63 7
Czech Republic 61 5
Poland 54 2
Lithuania 53 3
Estonia 51 4
Guam 51 5
Norway 51 3
Canada 49 3
Brazil 46 5
Macedonia (FYROM) 46 10
Montenegro 46 5
Croatia 45 4
Iceland 44 3
Romania 44 6
Germany 43 2
Aruba 42 0
Chile 41 4
Cyprus 41 2
Hungary 41 2
United States 37 2

Possibly due to the split nature between World of Warcraft and the many games that get pushed on the US market compared to the rest of the world

Look at the WoW traffic decline. Riding the rails into the grave, I see. Good going Simpsons
Look at the WoW traffic decline. Riding the rails into the grave, I see. Good going Simpsons


League World Champs Search Increase
League World Champs Search Increase

LoL is still picking up popularity over the years though. They are even peaking higher than before even before World Championships this year. Traditionally the highest traffic for the year comes around World Championship season when gamers and viewers gather on twitch and watch the best teams in the world compete, which can be seen below.

Considering this data is all prior to the 2014 World Championships (happening on Oct 19, 2014), it will be interesting to see by just how much the viewership increase will affect the graph.

Ground the Catch up

(All aboard the Hype Train, choo choo)

Other Mobas compared to LoL and DotA
Other Mobas compared to LoL and DotA

There are still new MOBAs coming out, some from first timers and one from heavy hitter Blizzard with Heroes of the Storm, but coming in many years after LoL has assumed such a large audience, and an audience that doesn’t seem to be slowing down, it going to make it hard to make a dent in its audience.


Competition? Sorry HoN, you ain't.
Competition? Sorry HoN, you ain’t.

Early competitor Heroes of Newarth tried to compete but didn’t pick up its fan base quick enough and LoL just kept picking up new fans with their Katamari of Characters.

Look at all of these players that I keep picking up. My katamari is never satiated.
Look at all of these players that I keep picking up. My katamari is never satiated.

But we’ll see if there’s a game that can generate the momentum necessary to compete with the two big boys, if it’s even possible. A game would need to wait for the popularity to dwindle and change up the genre just enough to get people interested again, just like what League of Legends accomplished. But who knows when that will be. Only time + data will tell.

Meanwhile, keep generating that hype!

All aboard the hype train!
All aboard the hype Gary train!


Check out other gaming data posts here.

Comments and Discussion in the place for it. Twitter here.

Bullets. For YOU!

Game Design: Enemy Agency Changing Player Agency

Broad agency is important to have in a video game. The ability to change your environment and change how you interact with it helps to set the game apart from how the player will experience one game over other games. That’s not to say that agency is the ultimate goal in all games. Plenty of games have very minimal agency and are still fun, ala Super Mario Bros. Agency is just another vector to follow in the pursuit of why we enjoy certain games. But the point of this isn’t to write about the player’s agency because that gets entirely too much focus. The agency of those that the player interacts with is equally important to focus on because it determines how the player will interact with the environment as well. The agency of the NPCs (non-playable characters) changes the agency of the player by changing the rules of interaction within the game.

Grand Theft Auto (Changing the Mayhem Engine)

Look at a game like Grand Theft Auto, a series known for its open world sandbox. If the game’s NPCs were overly stupid, they would just be standing in place as markers for where sidewalks exist. If they were overly complex, they would have the same instinctual faculties that most modern humans operate on. Instincts of self-preservation, risk avoidance, hunger, sleep.

At noon-time in the game, there would be an abundance of NPCs at the restaurants and diners scattered throughout the city and driving around these areas would be a nightmare. The player would have to plan when they would pick up a mission because police chases and getaways would be a lot more problematic when rush hour hits and you’re stuck behind a conga-line of cars on the highway and the whole of the city’s police is on rubbing your butt with their car bumpers.

If you’re walking around the city and word is spreading about how much of a menace you are, you need to be more careful about when and where you perform your ruthlessness. You can’t just look at a car that you suddenly feel the need to have, pull out the driver and peel out cackling. You can’t play “beat-up-a-businessman-who-was-too-self-absorbed-and-bumped-into-you-while-walking-along-the-sidewalk-even-though-you-were-being-polite-and-honking-your-horn-while-driving-his-direction”. It might make the game harder to operate within because the vigilience of the environment is increased and suspicion of your actions makes them scrutinized more heavily. But this would take away from the mayhem engine that is GTA by restricting the player’s agency or at the least creating harsher consequences for the player’s agency which is a punishment for exercising your agency and ultimately restricts the player’s agency.

This car looks real nice. Would be a shame if it weren't there in the morning.
This car looks real nice. Would be a shame if it weren’t there in the morning.

Giving a new dimension of agency to the NPCs of GTA forces the player to be more deliberate with their actions. For better or worse, better NPC agency can change the player’s agency dramatically.

Red Faction

Holes in mah walls. How der you.
Holes in mah walls. How der you.

Looking at a series that’s not normally talked about for its agency, Red Faction is normally talked about because, while being a standard FPS, it had a manipulate-able environment. You could destroy most walls and burrow within the crust of Maras. Need a place to hide to recoop but in the middle of a firefight? Blast a hole and burrow for a few minutes while the enemy AI is resetting. Baddies behind a wall making it hard to give them some bullet surprises? Just put some explosives on the wall they’re hiding behind and giving them more presents just became a whole lot easier. Avoiding a conversation with baddies as they patrol one of their many favorite corridors? Just make a path around them and they’ll be fired eventually for missing the giant hole and noises obviously coming down the hallway that they’re stationed near.

Bullets. For YOU!
Bullets Surprise. For YOU!

Giving the player the ability to manipulate the environment created a different dynamic of how the player solves the problems within the game. The player learns to adjust their problem-solving to incorporate the changes that the new game rules can facilitate.

If we also changed the agency of the AI to incorporate the same adjustments in problem-solving that the player experiences, we can also affect the play of the game dramatically as well. If enemies thought you were hiding in a cave that you designed for yourself impromptu, then they might just throw a grenade down the hole and the concussive force should be enough to kill you instead of the naptime that you had originally expected. If the baddies wanted to get behind you while you were taking cover behind a wall, they might blow a hole to your back just before they return the favor of the bullet surprise that you sent over the first time around. Maybe they’ll be smart enough to notice changes in the environment and go investigate because there aren’t any moles on Mars big enough to burrow this much into the walls surrounding the facility. In the middle of a firefight? Maybe about to start one? Would be a shame if the enemies blasted a hole just behind your while excavating and ruining your ambush that you so painstakingly planned for the past few seconds.

Bullets. For YOU!
Bullets Surprise?. For ME?!

Because the actions that the bad guys can perform are more advanced and better reflect the reactions towards your abilities, it changes the influence that your abilities enact on the gamespace. You are no longer outsmarting an AI because only you know how to manipulate the environment to gain an advantage. Giving the AI advantages of their own, ones that are integratable to each unique situation, changes how the player chooses their actions in these situations. Is there someone popping up behind me? Are there suddenly less people in front of me and could they be making a tunnel around me to get to me? Could I catch them by surprise and flank their tunnel before they do? It changes the player’s decision making strategy which changes the dynamics of the game and how the game ultimately feels.

Focus on the player’s agency is important because it changes the player’s experience with the game, but adding more things that the player can affect doesn’t just mean adding abilities for the player. Adding abilities for the NPCs, ally or enemy, can change how the player can affect the gamespace as well by changing the player’s perspective in the game.

Thoughts and Discussion can be placed in the naughty place (The Comment Box).


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