What Is A MOBA? The History of The Multiplayer Online Battle Arena

By LoL Smurfs


What Is A MOBA? The History of The Multiplayer Online Battle Arena

The MOBA video game genre is undoubtedly one of the most popular genres out there when it comes to gaming. With plenty of MOBA titles and millions of people playing them, it’s clear that gamers love the style and gameplay of the genre.

From slaying minions to destroying enemies bases, MOBAs are unlike any other video game genre out there. But if someone asked you what the term MOBA stands for, or how it all begun, what would you tell them? You might have played a few MOBAs in your time, but do you really know how the genre started?

With MOBAs on track to dominate the eSports scene, understanding the history of how the genre started in the first place is crucial. To find out why this type of video game has become so important, first, we need to take a look at its history and how it all began.

What Does MOBA Stand For?

If you don’t know by now, MOBA stands for: Multiplayer Online Battle Arena

But the genre is also sometimes referred to as: Action Real-Time Strategy

Both of these titles do a good job of explaining the genre overall, but you don’t get much from the name. How does a multiplayer online battle arena differ from say arenas in World of Warcraft or death match tournaments in Counter-Strike? Well, this is where some more explaining is necessary.

What Is A MOBA?

league of legends champions

By its definition, a MOBA is a subgenre of the real-time strategy genre that includes games such as StarCraft, Command & Conquer and Warcraft. However, unlike these other real-time strategy games, players participate in a specific arena as part of a team against another team.

The main thing that differentiates these genres apart is that in MOBAs players cannot construct or build units. Instead, the players must use the pre-spawned units in the game to help them attack their enemy.

The rules are simple and straightforward, destroy the opposing team’s main structure before they destroy yours! Whichever team destroys the main structure will be crowned the winners regardless if it takes 10 minutes or 2 hours.

Popular MOBA Games

example of moba games

Since the introduction of the MOBA genre to the gaming world, many games have been created over the years. As of today, there are plenty of highly popular MOBA games that people play and watch on a regular basis. To give you an idea of some of the most important MOBA’s here are the most popular ones out there.

Aeon of Strife

You might have never heard of his MOBA before, but that’s because it was actually a custom map for StarCraft back in the day. It might not be as popular as other MOBAs on this list, but it is definitely one of the most important.

To many, Aeon of Strife is regarded as the first ever MOBA game to be released. Although it wasn’t a stand-alone game like many are today, it gained enough popularity to be remade in different games and ultimately go on to help grow the video game genre.


For many players out there, DotA or Defense of the Ancients was the most defining MOBA of its time. Not only did it take advantage of all of Warcraft 3’s character models turning them into playable characters, but it was also one of the first MOBAs which had competitive tournaments held for it.

Similar to Aeon of Strife, DotA started out as a 3rd party mod for a game, but its popularity and design quickly attracted the attention of game developers. To update the game and bring it into the modern gaming world, the games developer Valve managed to launch an updated version of the game back in 2013. Appropriately named DotA 2, the game features an updated graphics engine with new playable characters.

Since it’s release, DotA 2 has been played at many professional eSports tournaments including Valve’s own World Championship dubbed The International. With millions of people tuning in to watch the tournament and millions of other players playing it every month, there’s no doubt DotA 2 is incredibly popular. With a huge fan base and big following even after all these years DotA is still one of the most popular games.

League of Legends

One of the first ever stand-alone MOBAs created went by the name of League of Legends, and it took the world by storm. For the first time, players could experience the MOBA genre without having to install a 3rd party mod on another game. League of Legends gave players everything they needed for the perfect MOBA experience, including regular updates and additions to improve the gameplay.

As of today, LoL is the most popular MOBA out there with a huge eSports scene, millions of monthly players and regular updates. There’s no doubt that League of Legends helped the video game genre become as big as it is, and without it, we’d all probably still be playing Habbo Hotel.

Heroes of the Storm

Following on with the success of the MOBA genre in recent years, many video game developers decided to release their own twist on the genre. One of newer releases is Heroes of the Storm which is produced by the video game giants Blizzard. Funnily enough, it was Blizzard who made Warcraft 3 and StarCraft, the first games to have the MOBA mods for them. Yet it took Blizzard nearly 15 years until they decided to create their own.

Similar to the original DotA mod, Heroes of the Storm makes use of Blizzard’s vast character universe incorporating lots of popular characters into the game.


As more and more MOBA games started to get released, some developers started to think up new ways on how they could “spice up” the gameplay. With there already being a handful of hardcore MOBA games out there, some developers decided to take a different route when it came to designing their game.

Smite is a MOBA that unlike other games allows players to play in a different perspective. Instead of using a top-down birdseye view approach, Smite allows players to play from behind the shoulder. Not only does this completely change the dynamics of the game, but it also allows for some fast-paced action.

Is Overwatch A MOBA?

overwatch moba example

With plenty of MOBA games out there, sometimes gamers often get confused about what a MOBA actually is. In recent years, many players have claimed that Blizzard’s Overwatch video game is, in fact, a MOBA, however, we’d have to disagree.

Overwatch might take place in an online area with other players, but it certainly doesn’t include the features of a MOBA. Not only does it not have any buildings or structure that players need to destroy to win, but it also lacks AI minions. Since players are just fighting each other in a team, it’s more of a co-operative action game that gamers play in the first person.

To many gamers, the thought of Overwatch being classed as a MOBA is ludicrous, but we’re just here to make sure everyone is on the same page.

Hopefully by now you should understand what a MOBA actually is and how it differs from other video games. It’s these differences that define the MOBA genre and have made it so successful today. With plenty of MOBAs already available, it’s likely that new versions of the game will be released in the future as it shows no signs of slowing down.

If you want to experience the best MOBA out there then we suggest giving League of Legends a try. Not only does it have a super competitive gaming scene, but with its regularly updates and improvements there’s always something good to look forward too!

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