The much-publicized rapid growth in Steam over the past year has coincided with an equally rapid growth in the platform's flagship title, Dota 2. Despite this rapid growth in players, the game still maintains a high percentage of the player base that are deeply invested in the game.
On February 25th, Valve announced that the number of active Steam accounts has eclipsed 125 million active accounts. This represents rapid growth considering Valve announced reaching 100 million active accounts just 5 months ago. Not surprisingly, Valve's market-leading title, Dota 2, has also seen rapid growth over the past year, growing from 24 million owners in February 2014 to over 40 million this month.
Using a methodology similar to that outlined by an April 2014 Ars Technica article (which placed Dota 2 owners at 26 million), EEDAR samples Steam accounts on a daily basis to better understand Steam player behavior and title performance. This data suggests that the number of Steam accounts with Dota 2 installed has increased 85% in the past year to 42.9 million as of February 2015.
As Dota 2 ownership has increased, Dota 2 user activity has increased as well. Valve-reported Dota 2 MAUs (source: blog.dota2.com) have increased 54 percent since February 2014. This month, Dota 2 has seen new highs in peak daily concurrent users, thanks in part to the 2015 New Bloom event, which has been running since February 12th. During the month of February 2015, the average daily peak in concurrent players has been 1.26 million, an 81 percent increase over the average of 698,000 from the 2014 New Bloom event, which ran from January 29th to February 2nd 2014.
Dota 2 and other MOBA games are often touted as examples of well-done Free-to-Play business model implementation because of the deep, long-term engagement of a high percentage of the players. Despite almost doubling in ownership over the past year, Dota 2 has maintained a high percentage of players that invest a large amount of time in the game. The following graph, based on Steam user account data, shows the average hours of Dota 2 playtime for users in different percentiles of the player base.
While there is a very high average number of hours played for players in the top percentiles, such as the 99th percentile of players having played what is the equivalent of 15 weeks of straight gameplay, the really impressive thing is how much the broader group of engaged players has played. The 80th percentile has played more than 140 hours of gameplay, so over 8 million players have played almost 150 hours of the game, impressive considering that players download game the game for free with little initial investment in the experience and almost half the player base has only been playing for a year.
It will be interesting to monitor how this highly engaged player base continues to evolve as the game continues to grow and become more mainstream.