It’s no surprise that the action strategy game DOTA 2 is now so big that there are professional players—what’s surprising is the number of fans who follow them. Five-person teams with names like NewBee, who are from China, and Evil Geniuses, with players from the U.S., Canada and Sweden, attract legions of fans—they are superstars in this virtual world, where they do battle against each other using arrows, swords and magic spells. Events are held in huge arenas in front of live audiences numbering in the thousands, as well as many following online; this year, for the first time, the combined number of spectators for The International, the biggest DOTA competition, in which the world’s best players go head to head, topped 1 million.
There’s also live commentary as the players engage onscreen, not to mention huge prize money to be won: At this year’s International—which was held in Seattle at the 17,500-capacity Key Arena—NewBee took home the title and earned more than $5 million as a result. (Second place went to China’s Vici Gaming, earning them a not- too-shabby $1.4 million.) DOTA 2 is the best-known game in a genre that has existed since 2003 and has been an incredible success story ever since; as a result, new titles emerge practically every week. (See below.) What’s the fascination with this type of gaming? “Mainly the fact that it’s so unbelievably complicated,” says Australian Toby Dawson, known as TobiWan, a DOTA caster. “DOTA is one of the most difficult games there is. The players have to work together, and if one of them makes a mistake, the whole team loses.”
NEW RTS GAMES
The never-ending battle of the Transformers killing machines arrives at the next level. Having conquered kids’ bedrooms and the box office, it now comes to the computer screen as an action-packed mix of RTS and third-person shooters, in which teams of four players try to reduce their opponents to e-waste.
Arena of Fate
In this RTS from Crytek, you play in teams of five, which is standard for the genre. But in this game the characters come from history and mythology. Does Little Red Riding Hood stand a chance against Nikola Tesla? And who would win a duel between Robin Hood and Joan of Arc? Now you can find out.