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League of Legends set to dominate MOBA market in 2016

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League Of Legends World Championship 2014

The MOBA genre is dominated by League of Legends, with Dota 2 coming in a healthy but still very distant second place. And according to market research firm EEDAR, it's going to stay that way for a good while to come: In a report posted on Gamasutra, analyst Edward Zhou predicted that LoL will hold fully two-thirds of the MOBA market through 2016.

Zhou believes that League of Legends will have a 66 percent MOBA market share in 2016, followed by 14 percent for Dota 2; after that will be Blizzard's upcoming Heroes of the Storm with seven percent of the market, and then Smite at 2.5 percent.

There are two main reasons for the relative immobility of the MOBA scene, Zhou wrote. First, both LoL and Dota 2 have "prioritized a retention strategy," using limited editions, special events, and "increasingly high-quality aesthetic items" to maintain their existing user bases. And second, MOBAs are hard to master, and the investment in time necessary to become good at one isn't something that most players will easily walk away from—and especially not just so they can do the same thing all over again in a different MOBA.

Even so, Zhou said there are room for other MOBAs to succeed, but not if they just ape what's already been done. Smite offers a third-person perspective and relatively gentle learning curve, he explained, with options for automatic purchasing and leveling, and Heroes of the Storm appears set to take that even further by eliminating the in-game shop altogether. Being a Blizzard game doesn't hurt, either. "Blizzard is in a unique situation due to their immensely loyal fanbase," he wrote. "Heroes is already blessed with a substantial player pool that will interact with the title."

MOBAs are unquestionably difficult—just ask this guy—but is that really enough to dissuade veterans of one from leaping into another? League of Legends is clearly in a secure spot for now, but nobody does attractive accessibility like Blizzard, and I expect things will get very interesting once Heroes comes around—which Blizzard announced earlier today will happen (as an open beta) next month.

MOBA market share 2016 chart

Andy Chalk
Andy Chalk

Andy has been gaming on PCs from the very beginning, starting as a youngster with text adventures and primitive action games on a cassette-based TRS80. From there he graduated to the glory days of Sierra Online adventures and Microprose sims, ran a local BBS, learned how to build PCs, and developed a longstanding love of RPGs, immersive sims, and shooters. He began writing videogame news in 2007 for The Escapist and somehow managed to avoid getting fired until 2014, when he joined the storied ranks of PC Gamer. He covers all aspects of the industry, from new game announcements and patch notes to legal disputes, Twitch beefs, esports, and Henry Cavill. Lots of Henry Cavill.