Dota 2 has a had a massive resurgence of late - but it hasn't been because of the free-to-play MOBA, but a card-based mod akin to chess. Dota Auto Chess has quickly become one of the most popular games on Steam this year, so much so that there's reports that Valve are looking to officially bring the project in-house.
A report from VP Esports suggests that Valve has been looking at the Dota 2 custom game with keen interest. The thinking, as suggested, would result in the mod becoming an official Valve property, with support and development assistance offered in exchange. That would in turn undoubtedly result in a promotional boost throughout the Steam page and client.
The mod is already hugely popular: after launching on Steam in November of last year, the mod has amassed almost 4.5 million subscribers. The popularity of the mod has also helped Dota 2's flagging player base - after dropping to a low of 701,582 peak players and around 441,000 average players in July of last year, Dota 2's peak player count has spike to over 950,000 in the past month with an average player base of over 542,000, the best figures for the game since The International 2017.
It's certainly blown away any concerns that Auto Chess's popularity was a bug or some other kind of quirk that resulted in the over-reporting of numbers. More and more high-profile Dota 2 players and streamers have continued playing Auto Chess in their downtime, especially amongst the Chinese community, and the popularity of the mod has encouraged newer players to download Dota 2 for the first time.
The downside of Auto Chess's burgeoning popularity, of course, is that it puts an awkward spotlight on Artifact. The high-profile Dota 2 spin-off has struggled to maintain any momentum from launch, with only a thousand average players over the last month. But as Valve has shown in the past, they're always capable of turning something around - and they're especially good at refining mods into superb standalone games. Just look at Dota 2.