Evolution: The MOBA.


MOBA stands for Multiplayer Online Battle Arena. Well known examples of this genre are DoTA2 from Valve and League of Legend (LoL) from Riot Games. The Genre has even been celebrated recently in a feature film ‘Free To Play’ (thanks Valve) that is available from the Steam service or YouTube for free. The Genre is a kind of hybrid between High Strategy games like Chess and Real Time Strategy video games such as Star Craft. As you frequent this website (you are reading right now) I’m going to assume you are aware of the concept of a MOBA even if you are not well versed in the nuances.

Over the last two days I have been introduced to a new take on the concept, a game called Smite (check out other posts on this site for more about Smite) its a third person perspective version of a semi traditional MOBA game.

This is where a thought started to from for me. The MOBA genre has taken off really well since its inception in popular culture with the aforementioned League of Legends, and DoTA2 but its not yet a mature gaming genre.

In the 90′s we saw games like Doom and Duke Nukem 3D bring the First Person Shooter into popularity.  Since the inception of the classical FPS genre we have seen games like Call of Duty (CoD) and Battlefield take the
whole thing into a modern era and with RTS games we went from Dune 2 to Command and conquer and Star Craft, eventually we have come to see games such as Planetary Annihilation and Star Craft 2. All of these genres have a starting point, an infancy if you like, then we see improvements on the classic concepts as they have an adolescence and eventually we come to the modern games that we currently think of as the adulthood for the genres. Obviously we will see this progression at different stages as time goes by.


The MMO category has had the same progression with Everquest slowly relinquishing its hold to newer games and World of Warcraft setting the genre in stone, eventually more modern takes of varying success have come along with titles like Guild Wars 2 and The Old Republic, even strange additions that blend other concepts such as Global Agenda and The upcoming Elder-scrolls Online. You could even argue that games like Day Z and Rust have their roots somewhere in the mixing pot of FPS and MMO’s

The thing about the MOBA genre however is that it has really come into its own very recently. As popular as DoTA2 and LoL both are, they are both also the childhood of a game type. I wonder if a game will arrive at some point that is as far beyond DoTA2 as Battlefield is beyond Doom? Its easy to see why we forget how new this MOBA concept is when we look at how complete and graphically pleasing they are but the truth is, the gap between Doom and CoD for instance is not one of graphical evolution, although that’s part of it, it is a gap that is filled with varying degrees of additional game-play mechanics and concepts. Given how complex current MOBA’s are I am hard pressed to imagine a game with as many additional features as for instance the RTS genre games of ten years ago to present day.


Its true however that some genres escape this complexity curve however, think of how little the Dungeon crawler has actually changed over the years. Sure Diablo 3 doesn’t have that much in common with Gauntlet 2 but
Diablo 1 and Torchlight 2 are actually not that different in terms of mechanics which is a little surprising when you consider how many years there are between them. Maybe some of the mechanics will drop completely as time goes by, maybe the trick is to make the MOBA a simple game to keep the player count high and the audience happy. Maybe the genre is just a  fraction of what its going to become. After all Eye of the Beholder and Skyrim are as different as Beans and Donkeys but they are still RPG titles according to Wikipedia.

Please leave feedback on my musings in the comments section below or give me a telling off directly on twitter @hexdsl

2 Responses to “Evolution: The MOBA.”

  1. Laugh says:

    lol. this is hilarious :D

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