Codex Gamicus
Multi-player online battle arena video games
Basic Information

Multi-player online battle arena video games (MOBA), also known as action real-time strategy (ARTS), is a sub-genre of the real-time strategy (RTS) genre, in which often two teams of players compete with each other in discrete games, with each player controlling a single character through an RTS-style interface. It differs from traditional RTS games in that there is no unit construction and players control just one character. In this sense, it is a fusion of action games and real-time strategy games. The genre emphasizes cooperative team-play; players select and control one "hero", a powerful unit with various abilities and advantages to form a team's overall strategy. The objective is to destroy the opponents' main structure with the assistance of periodically spawned computer-controlled units that march towards the enemy's main structure via paths referred to as "lanes".

The genre traces its roots to Aeon of Strife (AoS), a custom map for StarCraft.[1] Defense of the Ancients (DotA), a map based on Aeon of Strife for Warcraft III: Reign of Chaos and The Frozen Throne, was one of the first major MOBA titles.


An early predecessor to the genre was the 1989 game Herzog Zwei which is considered to be the progenitor of the modern real-time strategy genre. One key differences between Herzog Zwei and modern action RTS games is that Herzog Zwei allowed the player to command an army of units, while the modern genre features waves of uncontrolled units that spawn at set intervals.[2] The Dynasty Warriors series could also be considered early MOBA games, starting with Dynasty Warriors 2 (1997).

The custom map Aeon of Strife for the real-time strategy game StarCraft is one of the earliest examples of the modern genre. It was followed by Defense of the Ancients, a custom scenario for Warcraft III that was heavily based on Aeon of Strife. The growing popularity of Defense of the Ancients led to the development of further custom maps as well as full stand-alone games.[3] These games are sometimes referred to as "DotA-style", "DotA-esque", "DotA-clone" or "DotA-based", although were more commonly referred to as AoS's.[4][5]

Minions is a game by The Casual Collective released in 2008 as a Web game using Flash.[6]

Demigod, a video game developed by Gas Powered Games was the first released stand-alone title in the genre.[7][8]

This was followed by Riot Games' League of Legends released in October 2009.[9][10] Riot Games attempted to break away from the genre being known as "Dota" by coining its own marketing term, "Multiplayer Online Battle Arena" (MOBA).

In May 2010, S2 Games released Heroes of Newerth.[11][12]

On 13 October 2010, Valve Corporation announced its official entry to the genre with a sequel to Defense of the Ancients entitled Dota 2.[13][14] Valve referred to Dota 2 and similar games as "Action Real-Time Strategy" games.[15]

At BlizzCon 2010, Activision Blizzard officially announced their entry to the genre with their Blizzard DOTA map for StarCraft II.[16][17] Chris Sigaty, lead producer of Starcraft II, stated that Blizzard DOTA "is a take on the DOTA genre if you will. It gives you the opportunity to see some of the heroes we've made, we've made some heroes that are cross genre. Not just SC2 heroes, we've got some Diablo characters in the works, we've some Warcraft characters and StarCraft characters and they're fighting together."[18] On May 11, 2012, Blizzard announced that the map would be named "Blizzard All-stars", after settling a trademark dispute with Valve over the usage of the DOTA trademark.[19]

See also[]


  1. Frequently Asked Questions. Archived from the original on 11 November 2010 Retrieved on 16 November 2010
  2. GameAxis Unwired, p. 52, December 2008, SPH Magazines, ISSN 0219-872X
  3. Sharkey, Mike (11 August 2010). Evidence Mounting for a Valve Defense of the Ancients Game. Retrieved on 17 November 2010
  4. Nguyen, Thierry (1 September 2009). Clash of The DOTAs. Retrieved on 21 October 2009
  5. Welsh, Oli (22 October 2011). Blizzard aims for more accessible DOTA. EuroGamer. Retrieved on 25 October 2011
  6. Psychotronic (30 November 2008). Minions. Retrieved on 7 November 2012
  7. Lopez, Miguel (21 February 2008). Demigod. Retrieved on 20 November 2010
  8. Nemikan (21 September 2009). DOTA reborn: Three games inspired by the legendary WC3 mod. Retrieved on 17 November 2010
  9. Perez, Daniel (16 January 2009). League of Legends Interview. Retrieved on 19 October 2010
  10. Arirang (3 October 2009). A Look at the Future of Dota and the AoS Genre.. Retrieved on 19 October 2010
  11. Jackson, Leah (23 December 2010). Looking Back at 2010: The Year in PC Games. Retrieved on 24 December 2010
  12. Mark Wedel (24 June 2010). "Kalamazoo-made 'Heroes of Newerth' drawing huge online gaming crowd". Kalamazoo Gazette. Archived from the original on 28 June 2010. Retrieved 12 July 2010. 
  13. Valve Announces Dota 2. Valve Corporation (19 October 2010). Archived from the original on 15 October 2010 Retrieved on 13 October 2010
  14. Totillo, Stephen (13 October 2010). Valve's New Game Is Dota 2. Kotaku. Retrieved on 17 October 2010
  15. Nutt, Christian (29 August 2011). The Valve Way: Gabe Newell And Erik Johnson Speak. Gamasutra. Retrieved on 31 August 2011
  16. All-New Blizzard Custom Maps Featured at Blizzcon 2010. Blizzard Entertainment (22 October 2010). Archived from the original on 25 October 2010 Retrieved on 22 October 2010
  17. Augustine, Josh (23 October 2010). The first heroes in SC2’s DOTA map. PCGamer. Archived from the original on 24 October 2010 Retrieved on 25 November 2010
  18. Iuliani, Joe (5 November 2010). Starcraft II: Chris Sigaty Interview. Archived from the original on 7 November 2010 Retrieved on 5 November 2010
  19. Reilly, Jim (2012-05-11). Valve, Blizzard Reach DOTA Trademark Agreement. Game Informer.