To reach a wider demographic, there’s often no better platform for advertisers than the worlds gamers immerse themselves in. However, finding a “safe” platform - avoiding controversies, statements, or heavy political stances while not alienating consumers - can be a minefield, even in the gaming sphere, where concerns of violence or unethical commercial practices (such as loot boxes) might polarize audiences.

Meet DOTA Auto Chess, a brand new game which may have brought a fresh genre to gaming. What’s more, this new genre is potentially much safer for brands, and the game’s user base is growing fast.

Why Brand Marketers Should Consider It

Unlike the battle royale craze made popular by games like Fortnite and PlayerUnknown’s Battleground, or the first-person shooter genre advanced by Call of Duty, Overwatch, or Rainbow Six, DOTA Auto Chess is mostly non-violent.

Rather than facing each other in heated head-to-head confrontations, players take an overhead perspective, moving game pieces into strategic positions against enemies. It’s less about being a soldier in combat and more about being a general, watching the cartoony combat animations from a distance.

A beginners guide by Polygon

The game is free to play, meaning there is potential for loot boxes later on in its life cycle. However, the game currently operates out of DOTA 2’s arcade, as a fan-made creation, and Valve, the creators of DOTA 2, have been more careful with their loot boxes, given recent controversies.

While DOTA 2 does have loot boxes, recent changes made by Valve inform players of the probability of earning rare items. It’s likely that should Valve acquire DOTA Auto Chess from its creators, microtransactions would be honestly implemented. But currently, that’s all speculative.

Understanding DOTA Auto Chess

Believe it or not, DOTA  was itself a community creation, originally appearing in Warcraft 3’s own arcade. The mod’s lead designer was tasked by Valve to create a modernized version for the PC, which would become DOTA 2.

In DOTA Auto Chess, players each have their own chessboard grids. On these chessboards, player throw down their DOTA characters, which they can buy and upgrade at the beginning of each round.

Each round, a new wave of enemies joins the board. Players’ characters fight these enemies automatically based on where they’re placed. If enemies are not defeated at each round’s end, the player loses a little health.

The objective of the game is to be the last person with health remaining.

The Future of the Game

Although only a few months old, many people are flocking to DOTA Auto Chess, from professional Hearthstone to PUBG players. This “fan” project, the work of only four people, has stolen attention away from even some AAA games. In February, GameInformer reported that the game had risen to the fourth most played game on the Steam marketplace, and sources recently reported that the game had risen to eight million subscribers.

This considered, one has to ask: will the popularity last?

That depends partly on the evolution of the Auto Chess genre, and partly on what Valve intends to do with the property. If Valve does acquire the rights to DOTA Auto Chess and make it a full title, as some sources have speculated, then DOTA Auto Chess will have forked into two different games. Drodo studios, the people responsible for DOTA Auto Chess, are currently adapting the game into its own property, free of any DOTA association. That game is currently in beta (this information isn’t widely available).

Beyond that, if this is the birth of a new genre, then other game developers might build on the formula and create their own new takes on it, which may in turn create competition. In such an event, loyal players would stay with the game, but those whose attention is easily averted might find themselves drifting away.

DOTA Auto Chess’s future is really up in the air, and its long-term success will depend on how the genre develops. For now, it shows a lot of promise, but those interested in DOTA Auto Chess - currently a nice, neutral brand with a massive, passionate player base - will have to watch how the game evolves.

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