Dota 2 is a global game, but I wasn’t sure exactly how big it was in each region. I was determined to know, so I set off collecting data for an entire week in mid August 2014 in order to find out. My method for this article is to use the Waiting Queue to determine the Server Size. I can obtain data based on how many people are currently playing Dota, as well as data on how many people are waiting for a game of Dota per server. I can use this to extrapolate and create models to determine the size of player bases across the globe.
Every day each server peaks and troughs at different time. Using this data, I can create a Server Range; the min and max range of players that are searching for a game at any point on each server. I have also taken samples from across the day, to determine the average amount of players searching per server. The average also helps determine the gradient; some servers have a very steep peak, others are much more gentle knolls.
The image is a tad small here. But Russia and EUW are the two biggest servers, they very consistently have a high numbers of players on them. Conversely, in Dubai, Korea, and South Africa there is an incredibly small amount of players. Elsewhere in Asia, both Chinese servers are big, but they tend to fall off really hard. Each day, Chinese Dota outclasses SEA Dota overall, but Chinese servers don’t last very long. In SEA the servers are busy for hours on end, where as in China the servers seem to rise and fall really fast. This causes SEA to have about the average amount of players playing as the two Chinese servers combined, even though SEA peaks lower. In the Americas, all three servers are similar in size. Brazil has a hard fall off, but still manages to beat USW overall. USE is the biggest server in the region across the board.
My theory is that the bigger your server is, the better the matchmaking will be. Playing on Australia you will likely get rather large difference in people’s unranked MMR, as well as less precise MMR across the board. In EUW however, the pool of players is about eight times bigger, which should cause far better matchmaking. It’s thus better for Dota 2 pubbers to have big scenes in small locations, rather than have small scenes all over the world. Being good on a South African server is meaningless, since you will consistently be put with opponents and allies that are severely under your skill level. This not only makes it harder to get better at the game, but will heavily impact your playstyle; causing you to be much more of a ‘one many army’ dota player.
Working with my data, I can start to work out the demographics of the Dota population. Some players aren’t very faithful to their servers due to internet pathing, so I’ve split them up into regions. Players are likely to play at least within their region, such as Arabs on either Dubai or an European server, and Peruvians on one of the 3 American servers. While people can play anywhere, the vast majority of players are likely to play at least near them for ping reasons, with a very insignificant amount of say Russians playing in Korea.
Over the course of a 24 hour day in each region, about 46% of the people searching for matches are from Europe, which includes the Middle East and Russia. A solid quarter of players are Chinese, although SEA is not too far behind. In the untitled part is other countries at 2.5%, with 1.9% being Australian.
This data however is susceptible to a couple of outside factors, causing some limitations. In Australia, a very rich county where people game at home, a Dota 2 player can generally play when he wants to. He doesn’t have to travel to a Net Cafe, nor wait for money to afford to use one. In SEA however, Net Cafes are incredibly popular, which also means that the SEA server base is limited by the amount of computers available in Net Cafes, as well as their culture and opening hours. I said earlier that SEA servers were busy for long periods of time, where as China has a much more sudden peak. I actually predict that SEA is probably bigger than what is represented. Overall this pie graph is a tricky one, especially when you consider time zones. Since more time zones will result in lower peaks and higher averages.
Predicting Player Bases and the Miscellaneous Stats
I also know how many people have the Dota 2 client running, which is publicly available information. Generally, there seems to be about 5% of people with the Dota 2 client running searching for a game. It appears that Dota 2 peaks at about 8% of the total monthly player base each day, and that 15-20% of the Dota community play each day.
Obviously the waiting queues get massive surges when a server fail, as people all rush to find a game. The odd thing however is that weekends don’t seem to increase the numbers of players playing. Both in total players online, and in players searching, weekends seem to have no to very little effect on Dota players. Restaurants get peaks on certain days, such as the weekends, whereas Dota doesn’t seem to have a weekly busy period.
This blog has over 200,000 views in the past 12 months, but is 60% USA/UK/AUS/Canada. It has a fair amount of western Europe and SEA; both Vietnam and Poland are much higher than I would expect, and even have 28 views from Iraq. I imagine the Dota 2 Reddit would have a similar skew, being primarily the ‘five eyes’.
The Server search range is solid data, but other data becomes incredibly difficult to get exactly right. I’ve tried to create logical models and have reliable information, excluding less reliable results from the article.
Another article I am working on is how global events impact the Dota 2 player base. Primarily looking at the Ukraine-Russia crisis and the devastation it has caused to the Russian economy, as well as the Hong Kong democracy protests. My initial data suggests that they both have caused large declines in players. I also should mention that two new South American servers will be online shortly, and will keep my eye on how this impacts the player base. I am however very critical of this decision; the numbers tell me that to keep the player base the most sane, only one server should have been added. A server that caters to Spanish speaking South Americans.