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The Gift is here to discuss Defence of the Ancients, and how it has affected Warcraft III as a whole.

The Influence of DotA on Warcraft 3

Today I would like to take a look at a debate that I find somewhat interesting. Many games in the past have spawned hybrid games or parallel games that have had success. Half Life gave us Counter-Strike which was arguably more popular than its predecessor. More modern games like Call of Duty have given us maps that create whole new games and spread like wildfire. Out of all of the mods and sub-games that have come in the video game world in the past 15 years I believe that DotA (Defence of the Ancients) is the largest, or at least has the potential to be the largest. Many people that know me probably find it very weird hearing me say that because I am known as the opposite of a DotA fan, but I cannot deny the popularity and influence it has had. I have to admit that most of the following DotA knowledge is coming from friends that play and know a lot more about it. The question I would like to pose is whether or not DotA has had a positive effect on Wc3 overall. There are some positives and some negatives so let's break them down.

There are a few obvious positive effects that the DotA craze has produced. There is no doubt that more copies of Wc3 were sold because of DotA. It is obvious that the overall Wc3 community has grown a great deal because of DotA whether or not everyone that is part of the community has bought the game. Beyond these basic reasons it gets more complicated. Your opinion on whether or not a lot of the other effects DotA has had on Wc3 depends on your perspective. I am someone who has played the game since its release and have barely touched any custom games throughout my playing days. I sometimes have discussions with my dad about many of the trends in sports and pop culture. We discuss some of the more modern aspects of sport and how they have changed. He still enjoys watching them but wishes some things were “like they used to be”. I find that in the gaming community I fall into this category. I feel like I started playing the game a long time ago and have a hard time accepting this new young mans game. I liked Wc3 for what it was and do not want to play any other form of it. I realize that's just me and I am part of a minority. The following points could be considered positive or negative depending on if you're more like me or if you are really into the game.

Some other aspects of DotA have most likely had a positive effect on Wc3. It helps people develop a more mechanic knowledge of Wc3 game play. There is no doubt that playing the game will help you learn how units move and a general idea about how the game works. It also encourages team play and forces people to work together. It is not a requirement but it can be compared to a random team game. Working together in these games makes you a huge favorite over a team that doesn't. There is no doubt that the community is much bigger because of DotA, but it also seems like it is not really one community. I have found that many of the people that play DotA do not really seem to be RTS fans in general. I do think that DotA has more of an RPG feel to it than an RTS. I do not agree that just because the community is bigger it is inherently better. I am not saying that DotA players have made the community any worse, I just mean that it is more like two communities forced to act as one because they started from the same template.

Other people have considered the fact that Wc3 ladder has suffered because of DotA. I do not totally agree with that but I do to some degree. I think you would be hard pressed to find any legitimate pro player that has quit ladder to focus on DotA. Even if there has been a select few, who's to say they may have felt it was time to move on to something else anyway. One thing that you could consider is how it influenced the number of middle range players that we have playing ladder. A professional player is not going to quit, because they have a large stake in the game itself. They have probably made money playing the game at some point, and have spent years playing to perfect their craft. A middle range player does not share these experiences. It is very easy for someone who is only decent at the game to pick up and switch to DotA that has become widely popular. Maybe those players feel they can make their mark more easily in this new type of game, or maybe they just find that DotA is a better fit for them. I personally find ladder far more appealing for more reasons that I can count, but I can see why some people feel like DotA is more for them. I think it is hard to calculate how ladder was affected and exactly how many players were lost because of it. If I had to make a judgment I would say that DotA did not have a positive affect on the overall skill level of ladder, and am interested to hear what others have to say.

One other idea that I am unsure of is what exactly caused this massive amount of popularity that DotA has. I have some ideas but am mostly unsure. I think that it is definitely safe to say that it is an easier game to pick up and play than ladder is. DotA has action from the start and is fairly simple in concept. I am not saying that it is easy to be great at but I think there is a lot more information to be processed to be a good ladder player. The speed it takes to be good at both games is probably fairly similar but to me ladder is an art form as DotA is more of just a skill. I think it also could have been just the perfect combination of timing and balance of things that make something fun. Maybe it's kind of like a book or movie that you just can't stop watching or reading, and you can't figure out why. I have not personally played much so it is hard for me to judge why people have liked it so much. It could also be the large variety of heroes and the fun of playing each new one. Maybe it is all Basshunter's fault, I have no idea.

Has DotA increased the size of the Wc3 community? Without a doubt. Did Blizzard increase their sales because of DotA? Of course. After thinking about it I don't really feel like it had much of an affect on ladder itself, but I am also sure that we will never really know. It will also be interesting to see if newer games and games of the future experience a similar type of thing. One thing is certain, DotA will be around for a while for better or worse.

Did DotA expand an empire or weaken its core of ladder players? Perhaps we will never know.

  1. 1# :)
    I personally regard DotA a great game with a bright future regarding professional gaming. I think it's always good to have some competition between the different games. For my person I'm not the type of player that just sticks to a certain game stubbornly, as I think that no game is perfect, and hence they have to be improved continously. I think if Blizzard makes some more patches and changes, there could spawn some more attention to the ladder game again, so it's up to them, whether they want or not to keep wc3 alive. I'm personally open for new games, I won't buy SC2 though, but that's just because I began to dislike the firm Blizzard, but that's a different story. good night lads.

  2. DotA is an amazing game in its own right, as a team of five, it takes as much skill to beat challenging teams as does WC3 ladder. I often switch between DotA and ladder, usually ladder when my team isn't on for DotA scrims/clanwars. On the whole, I find ladder much more intense, but DotA is a challenging and complex game when played by serious players.

  3. I have two theories as to why DotA is popular:

    1. DotA is popular because actual Warcraft is much more work to play IMO. WC3 is stressful. By comparison, DotA is relaxing.

    2. DotA is popular because you get to play on a team. Sure, you can do that in WC3 also but IMO twos is boring. There's something really fun about a dota teamfight that you don't get in ladder.

  4. The very existence of dota is due to the release of the worldeditor, a great move on blizzard's part. they learned from feedback about sc's editor that people wanted the power not just to make custom maps but also custom games.

    any competition between the games is incredibly good for both. both sides will have their diehards, their commitment hardened by the desire to make their favorite the more eminent game. these kinds of fans are what create a vibrant community and attracts more players. it's the same with dota and wc3, and wc3 and wow for that matter. even flaming someone's game makes them more committed to it, and makes the flamer more committed to theirs.

  5. Believe me, DotA requires a LOT of skill, although the skills required are quite different to, say, wc3 ladder. While ladder focuses on individual skill and strategy to overcome opponents, dota (at least on a higher gameplay level) relies on teamwork, synergy, communication. Individual skill is also vital in dota but I think the game itself is more comparable to say, battlefield/css/cod, or even mmorpgs such as WoW/Aion/Lineage 2.

    I'm a sucker for games requiring teamwork so thats why I switched over to DotA after playing melee for a good 2-3 years.

  6. ^

    first u say that dota requires teamwork. Then u say u switched over to Dota cos u are a sucker at teamwork...

  7. "sucker for" means he really likes it.

  8. it was the first Aeon of Strife type map that was very well done and simple, so people prefer it. Many other have copy the AOS type but always by trying to add more and more, unfortunatly by missing the point. dota keep it simple so people can focus on the game play insted of the ''toys''. dota have a winning combinnaison that keep players from changing map by keeping it simple and continusly making update. they even suport there community whit an official site web, i dont know many map who have there own site. thats why years afther years if keep growing in popularity.

  9. Why is this on a wc3 replay site? i don't see any dota replays. Really, add a Dota Replay section and see which game is more popular. Well written but incorrect on very many points. Only thing you got right was the tone of the end of an era, and yes dota is dying and wont survive sc2 release.

  10. Dota is for homos.

    Most Dota players I know can't melee for shit. That should tell you something.

  11. CS>Dota by quite a bit. That's all. (Size wise that is.)

  12. This article has an interesting premise but as a writer you tend to ramble on.

    Anyway, DOTA is a double edged sword that gave ladder new players, and took away some existing ones. Irregardless, it is fun mods like these that have kept me hooked on WC3 all these years, and Blizzard has realized this. Note how they have been pushing the marketing of SC2's map editor like they saw the Jonas Brothers at the top of a very tall building.

  13. I have switched from mostly DotA to ladder, so +1 ladder player because of DotA XD

  14. dota popular cause retards cant control more then 2 units at once... do they play dota one hero and jus co ordinate with team... IMO its easier for a ladder player to transverse into a dota player, but a dota player cannot become a decent ladder player im talking about this from experiance because i play both but started playing ladder earlier and found dota alot easier once i got a grasp of the heroes and different spells and items, simply because the control / micro was already there..

  15. i've always played ladder, but i found dota fun/relaxing to play (although the games can get intense)

  16. @ ChyeaMan

    yah DotA is a lot "easier" than WC3 in that u have only 1 (depending on hero) unit to control, but DotA isn't about single players, its about teamwork and strategy, drafting, knowing when to fight, etc. At a competitive level, DotA is a beautifully complex game. And again, I prefer playing ladder.

  17. i played dota for one year in garena community. then i buy a warcraft 3 with original cd e switch to melee. now im playing in ladder.

    i knew warcraft before dota. i played the missions but never on line. dota was one of my first on line gamming experiences. so when i beggin to understand more of game works (playing dota), i decided to go to warcraft 3.

  18. "I'm a sucker for games requiring teamwork so thats why I switched over to DotA after playing melee for a good 2-3 years."

    did you mean ssbm or ladder? there is only 1 melee in my my dictionary:

  19. DoTA is garbage.

  20. I think DoTA definitely draws people away from Wc3 ladder. I think a reason for this is the fact that when you lose a solo game, you are the only person to blame. A lot of people struggle with that fact, in DoTA it's difficult to place the blame on one person and people are a lot more comfortable with that.

  21. @NordbanK
    As someone stated before, you've misunderstood me. If I said "I'm a sucker for cute girls ><" to a cute girl, and she understood it as "I suck at cute girls," she'd probably go 'wah?', followed by an awkward silence.


    Really? You've never heard of the term 'melee' as a term for general RTS warcraft III? At least in the Australian community we use it quite sounds a lot better than "build map" anyway.


    In terms of micro, yes, ladder surpasses dota for sure. I don't even need to explain this. DotA at a high level however incorporates communication, foresight, strategic synergy, as well as many other skills that are mutual to ladder (fast reflexes and map awareness to name a few) It certainly isn't a garbage game - considering competitive dota is a lot bigger than competitive melee here in Australia.

  22. IMO there's less diversity in DotA; most decent players only have 1 or 2 builds for each character, there is a lot more diversity playing each race in melee.

    An easy way to get "good" at DotA is to play only "all pick" games and concentrate on a few characters.

  23. IMO there's less diversity in DotA; most decent players only have 1 or 2 builds for each character, there is a lot more diversity playing each race in melee.
    wtf? did i miss a patch where bm/sh/graiderwalker wasn't the only strategy orc ran? or when UD didn't go DK/Lich with either fiend/destro or ghoul/garg.
    WC3 is dying/dead because the ladder is full of hackers 24/7 - thank god tiehack finally got taken out but it still ruined my gaming experience enough for me to quit. There's still plenty of phoenix hack/timehack/maphack to go around in ladder in addition to a complete lack of balance in the races.

  24. I don't quite get the point or need for this article. Dota or Wc3 ladder comes down to 1 simple thing: Do you prefer Micro or Macro?
    Macro - WC3 Ladder (yes micro as well, but you need to excel at Macro), Dota - Micro, with 1 hero to control every action.

    I enjoy the teamwork aspect of Dota, and no longer do well in wc3 in solo games cause my macro has faltered as I age. So, I love to watch wc3 pro replays cause that skill is more appealing to me - However, if I am playing a game, I prefer Dota as it is easier for me to compete at a higher level controlling one hero.

  25. I don't quite get the point or need for this article. Dota or Wc3 ladder comes down to 1 simple thing: Can you control more than one unit at a time?

    Yes - Plays WC3 melee.

    No - (Noob) Plays Dota.

  26. DvD, you said all.

    Actually there is one thing positive with dota: it's a training to block units, do last hits and deny.

  27. Great article and great read.

    I'd say you forget to mention how similar this game is to FPS games like 1.6/source where it's both 5v5, D/K/(now assists) and you do strategies as a team.

    I've been thinking this for a while but if DOTA can add multiple maps like cs has (Train, Mill, Inferno, Strike, Fire, Dust2, Tuscan, Forge, Nuke) then it would increase in popularity even more and allow tournaments to conduct BO3 quarter/semi finals with a BO5 final and the popularity would skyrocket.

  28. @Deathrazor

    DotA is Garbage.

  29. @Unsigned Char:

    Dota is only relaxing when you don't have a team full of nerds raging at you because you bought a bottle on CM

  30. OP: it would be relatively easy to figure out. check out sales on wc3 as a trend before dota. and look at sales on wc3 as a trend after dota. the data is there, whether it's available i don't know.

    "I think it is hard to calculate how ladder was affected and exactly how many players were lost because of it."

    friendly e-mail to bnet for old ladder standings and data mine for a high level trend before dota and #1 ladder level trend after dota.

  31. Dota was, for me, part of my introduction to wc3. i started like 2 years ago with Tower defenses and Footys and stuff like that. After a while i played some ladder games... I sucked ^^. But then i took a closer look on dota and it was really fun. After it interduced me to the WC3 mechanics, micro and stuff, i started to play ladder again. with a at least slightly bigger success than before. I started watching replays of both, dota and ladder games and my success in both things grew. I play in a dota-league and I am active in ladder games.

    When i click on my wc3.exe i think: mhm. Dota or Ladder.
    You see: both things work hand in hand. Dota is easyer to start with but pretty hard on league-level whereas Laddergames are more stressfull i'd say.

    Anyway. For me the influence of dota was positive on my WC3 skills and my ladder play.

  32. DotA is just as fun as the people who play it. I think it has the largest community of disgruntled 15 year old than other game in existence. It's like they don't even play for fun. Maybe it's the lack of a ladder system? I find less bitching and whining in RT games. The DotA community likes to scare away it's newer players. I think you'd see their community grow even more, would they not bitch out every single person who didn't have their fair share of luck.

  33. I've played both and thing dota is fun and can help you establish some sort of importance of single units or heros in ladder play. to me dota makes you realize the importance of ur hero in ladder play. only thing i say to defend dota is that its more versitile. you have close to 100 heros and most of the time 5 on each team. that leaves you with a whole lot more variation in games. although at league play you see alot of the same heros banned/used its still a whole lot more combination than that of the current 4 races in ladder play. I mean seriously like a previous poster stated when do you not see an orc make something other than bm/sh/raider/walker. hell that might as well be dota. group all those units in a group click a hero after you ensnare and hex. or you can make fiends and nuke a hero everygame. same $hit every game. you vary from the cookie cutter bull$hit no matter what you play 1v1, 2v2, etc and you'll get ur @ss kicked so bad u'll $hit boots for a week. to me i go back and forth between both ladder and dota, and it just disgust me that you have all those units for each race and ur stuck making the same ones every game or you dont stand a chance.

  34. The reason why I would not say that WC3 is popular because of Dota is because if WC3 wasn't huge and popular Dota would not have been where it is today and also we have no way of knowing what would have happened if Dota never grew. We assume that people would have stopped playing the game, on the other hand what makes us so sure that in fact the game would have had a lot more people playing it competitively? The split in the community might infact be the reason why both scenes are unstable competitive wise, while Starcraft has been stable for as long as I can remember.

  35. DotA keeps bringing an influx of new players to ladder much bigger than the ladder brings to DotA.

    Just look, 7 years after the game's release, how much beginners populate WC3's bottom, in RT for example. Many starting RT players are DotA players that try WC3's ladder.

    And, frankly, when you are bored of Ladder, DotA is a fun alternative (although seriously more filled with obscenities).

  36. I'm surprised no one has mentioned it yet, so I'll talk about it for a little bit (not that anyone will read this, but whatevs).
    After DotA became popular, I noticed that a lot of the strategies for the game started creeping into ladder, even on the professional level.
    People started assigning single hotkeys to heroes, players started denying their own units, last-hitting creeps became an art, and, if possible, heroes became even more essential in ladder games than they already were. Even simple things like paying attention to the enemy's items became well-known to people as an important thing to do because of DotA. Things like drawing creeps and blocking units I saw in DotA games long before ladder games. I feel that since the players were given only one unit to control as opposed to an army, they could focus more on the little nuances of single-unit micro, and that has carried over in a good way.
    I feel that DotA has absolutely influenced ladder play in many more ways than the volume of players. How many of us learned the hard way that level 1 spells are near useless? And how many of us are painfully aware of what happens when the enemy's hero reaches level 3?
    The little things in ladder games that distinguish a pro from an average gamer are often none other than the little nuances people have perfected in DotA, and I think it is a good thing that it is around.

  37. nobody has mentioned it because it isn't true, voiceofall. you are speaking from personal experience; ALL of those traits are what top players possess.

  38. dota is for people who dont really know how to play warcraft... I can't beilive they think themselves as RTS player... all u god dam do is to micro ONE UNIT!!