Time is the cruelest cut.
Dota 2s journey hit a significant milestone, with over seven billion matches played. However, the developer who helped Valve engineer the match tracking system never could have imagined the astronomical growth of the game, causing his original estimate to fall far short.
During the initial design process, the recently retired Zoid Kirsch chose a 32-bit value of up to four billion for the match id system. He anticipated that there would be one game per second, and the 32-bit foundation would serve Dota 2 for 126 years.
He was wrong.
Dota 2 was released in 2011, and it took 12 years for the game to record over seven billion matches. This number includes ranked, as well as all unranked game modes. While Zoids work will still serve the player base for a couple of more years, the introduction of fast-paced game modes like Turbo certainly didn’t help matters.
While the current games played per second range around 18, the number also has some seasonality. There are months when Dota 2 draws record-breaking numbers off the back of The International and in-game events, but these gains are mostly temporary. Considering Dota 2 pulled over a million players over the last few months, it also banked a modest $300 million, despite a heavily underperforming battle pass.
The main reason seasonality plays a huge role in Dota 2 player counts is the games inability to attract new players. Considering the MOBA is 12 years old, most of the player base grew up to have various other responsibilities. While their spirit may still be willing to fire up a few matches every night, the flesh requires some convincing, perhaps in the form of the free Arcanas in 2022.