Valve’s auto chess game Dota Underlords can’t seem to catch a break in terms of active players. Despite offering a rather polished product that just recently got a massive gameplay update, Underlords is on a downhill slide, losing players every week.
Dota Underlords launched in June to a sizable audience, peaking at over 200,000 players on day one. Four months later, however, the game had lost more than 86% of its player base, sitting at just over 26K on October 20. The game exhibited a similar behavior to Valve’s previous release, the Artifact card game, whose player numbers also plummeted and didn’t stop until they reached the three digits.
However, what Dota Underlords had going for it, was the so-called “Big Update” — a massive gameplay patch that was to introduce a slew of features, including new heroes, new Alliances, the eponymous Underlords, Duos Mode and so on, and so on. It was a chance for Underlords to stabilize its player base and launch into upswing and for the first few days, that almost seemed like the case.
Overnight after the Big Update launched on October 24, Dota Underlords almost doubled its active players, breaking 43K active players and making it back into the top 10 most played games on steam. When the weekend came, however, the growth stalled despite this being a generally more active period, and with the coming of the new week, the player numbers returned back to decreasing. On Tuesday, the game sat at 34K peak and today, it marked a 22K low-point — a number lower than the usual average.
Valve cannot be happy with these developments, as the company has been struggling to reinstate its good image as game developer. After the crash of Artifact, Dota Underlords represented a chance to release a popular hit, based on a phenomenon that rose up as a mod inside one of their own games — kind of like how DotA was born out of Warcraft III. Instead, Valve is looking at yet another puzzle that doesn’t look easy to solve. With the coming launch of Teamfight Tactics Mobile and LoL Mobile by Riot Games, the Bellevue offices will lose its one redeeming quality that Underlords had: its presence on mobile devices. Underlords still has a third chance to make a second impression as it’s not officially out of beta yet, but with most of the features already implemented, one has to wonder how high can the game actually go, in beta or not.