Auto battlers are a new and fast-growing type of game that has stolen the spotlight due to the first popular entry into the genre, Dota Auto Chess. Contrary to its namesake, it doesn’t resemble chess at all. Rather, Dota Auto Chess is a player-made mod for the MOBA game, Dota 2. Dota Auto Chess features eight players who form a square formation across a map.
The goal of the game is to construct a strong team of heroes and then equip them with items so that they can fight the other players’ heroes. The AI does the actual combat automatically; hence, the name, “auto.” However, players set up their chess pieces so that their heroes can fight their best and win the battle.
The Numbers Tell the Story
Dota Auto Chess has exploded in popularity recently, becoming the fourth Most Popular Game on Steam in February of 2019. In fact, it grew to over eight million players by late April 2019. Both of those stats are just for Steam, but the team behind Dota Auto Chess also created a version available for smartphones as well that has proven to be as popular as the PC version. Valve has also announced they are making a standalone version of Dota Auto Chess, they will call Dota Underlords. However, this is just the start of the auto battler genre.
The creators of Dota Auto Chess announced recently they will make their own standalone version of the game. Also, it will premiere as an Epic Store exclusive for Epic Games. In addition to that, Riot Games, the creators of League of Legends, also introduced their take on the auto battler genre in the game mode called Team Fight Tactics. There are already weekly esports tournaments for Team Fight Tactics as well as the first-ever $125,000 prize pool, Team Fight Tactics eSports tournament that took place recently.
Are Auto Battler Games Here to Stay?
So what does this all mean in regards to the future of esports? Well, three of the largest companies in gaming, as well as esports, have announced recently that they are developing an auto battler type of game. Valve is responsible for popular esports titles like Dota 2 and Counter-Strike: Global Offensive. Epic Games is responsible for the cultural and esports phenomenon of Fortnite. Riot Games is responsible for the globally popular esports game, League of Legends.
In fact, just recently, the creators of Dota Auto Chess have announced a $1 million tournament to take place in China later this year. Tournaments like those will be the first major esports tournaments for an auto battler game, and it likely won’t be the last due. How large of an esports genre Auto Battlers will become remains to be seen.