China's MOBA market: comparing LoL, Dota 2, and Meng San Guo


When it comes to MOBA games in China, there may be a lot of options, but there are three games that are the obvious favorites: League of Legends, Dota 2, and Meng San Guo (梦三国, a domestically-developed MOBA from Soul & Shine Net Technology). Recently, Chinese gaming site 17173 took a look at data from more than 50 percent of China’s internet cafes and compared these three games. The results are pretty interesting, although they don’t necessarily represent the habits of China’s play-from-home gamers.


In terms of player-base, it’s no surprise to see League of Legends at the top. This data is from games between July and November of 2013, and we’ve seen repeatedly that League of Legends was the most popular game in China during that time. But some may be surprised to see that Dota 2, which did creep onto China’s top-ten list at one point this fall, is actually outstripped by Meng San Guo in terms of players.


Meng San Guo players, it turns out, also play the game for longer stretches than LoL and Dota players. Despite the games’ popularity, it appears that most Chinese gamers only play the foreign MOBA options for 1-2 rounds at a time before moving on to something else or taking a break.

The report also digs into the data a little bit to see what accounts for the spikes and valleys. Some interesting tidbits:

  • Unsurprisingly, the beginning of the school year in September led to more sporadic counts for just about everyone, as younger gamers had less time to play during the week but plenty of time to binge over the weekends.
  • League of Legends‘s high player count (nearly 19 million simultaneous players) came during a free skin giveaway event in September.
  • Dota 2 has benefitted quite a bit from increased interest in esports and the success of Chinese teams in the Dota 2 scene. Of course, Dota 2 only entered open beta this past fall, so it also had less of a head-start in China than the other games.

The full report is worth a read, if you can read Chinese.

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