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.