If somebody asked you what the most popular game of 2019 is so far, chances are you won’t say “Dota 2” and much less a mod for it. Well, that’s what might be happening right now, though some are skeptical of it.
A mod for Dota 2 made by Chinese developer Drodo Studio called “Dota Auto Chess,” which is a strategy game (not a MOBA variation as some might think) has seemingly taken the PC gaming world by storm. It has currently broken the 100K player count mark (screenshot by Matthew Bailey), and has oodles of gameplay over on YouTube.
If you’re unfamiliar with the game (as I’m sure a lot of you are), Reddit user Talfrey gave a quick, but to-the-point description of it:
While this sounds a like a Cinderella story coming true, Reddit user DoctorGester has a counterpoint to all this, and claims that the Dota Auto Chess numbers we’re seeing are actually inflated to the point that it’s “most likely 8-10x times less than reported.”
The playercount of AUTO CHESS is most likely inflated through a bug. We all know China is a big country, but this player count is still unprecedented, even though we’ve had multiple custom games popular in China before.
Here are some facts:
- I just queried AUTO CHESS player counts through the API. This yielded 55,558 players and 1,010 spectators. Spectators are only visible through API.
- Second most played game (Battle of Mirkwood: Battle Royale) has 1631 players and 9 spectators.
- Third most played game (Overthrow 2.0) has 1483 players and 1 spectator.
- The trend is not consistent. Even between Mirkwood and AUTO CHESS there is a 100x difference in spectators and only 34x difference in players. Okay, let’s not jump to conclusions with a single data point.
- You can’t spectate a random game. You can only spectate by clicking on your friend in your friend list.
- Back when I first published Crumbling Island Arena in 2016 it had the same “issue”. The API reported 300+ players and 100+ spectators. That was not a very plausible metric, considering it was a top 30-40 game among games which had 30-50 players and 0 spectators.
- This issue was fixed after a change I made where dota_surrender_on_disconnect 0 command was no longer executed on live servers. This brought up player numbers to reasonable 30-40 and spectator count to 0-1.
- Legends of Dota: Redux has the same issue right now. That game currently “has” 259 players and 1 spectator. The game is top61, among games with 10-15 players.
The conclusion I came to back in 2016: some sort of a bug causes the games not to finish properly, hence servers do not report player count decrease in a timely manner, causing tons of concurrent players and spectators being displayed. The actual player count in AUTO CHESS is most likely 8-10x times lesser than reported.
Have you played Dota Auto Chess? Do you think that a mod can account for around 1/4 of the entire playerbase of a game this soon? Let us know your thoughts below.