Some people call it Multiplayer Online Battle Arena (MOBA), Valve is calling the upcoming Dota 2 a Action RTS (Real Time Strategy) and I've seen some using Action RPG.

Has the community come to an understanding?

I do not play these games much (or well :P) so I don't know.

  • 3
    MOBA is the official term, as Riot Games has referred to LoL as that themselves. I sort of wonder the point of this question, actually - what does it matter the genre a game has, as long as its fun? Commented Aug 16, 2011 at 17:43
  • That should be the answer Raven :)
    – Sorean
    Commented Aug 16, 2011 at 17:47
  • 1
    Related: gaming.stackexchange.com/questions/23572/…
    – FAE
    Commented Aug 16, 2011 at 17:53
  • 1
    @Raven moba is not the official term. Commented Aug 16, 2011 at 18:00
  • 4
    I'm torn on this question. On the one hand it represents a real problem: knowing if a game fits into this genre is dependent on what people are calling it. On the other hand it's asking what that community consensus is, which is a fairly subjective concept that shifts rapidly over time. Part of me wants to keep it open and part of me wants to close it...
    – tzenes
    Commented Aug 17, 2011 at 1:29

5 Answers 5


Update, 2022/12/15

Riot has updated their website once or twice over the last decade, and the current description, available here, is as follows:

What is League of Legends?

League of Legends is a team-based strategy game where two teams of five powerful champions face off to destroy the other’s base. Choose from over 140 champions to make epic plays, secure kills, and take down towers as you battle your way to victory.

Bolded emphasis mine.

Begin Original Answer

According to Riot's official description of League of Legends, available on their website:

League of Legends is a session-based, Multiplayer Online Battle-Arena game where rival teams compete against one another for victory on highly stylized battlefields and landscapes. Built by a veteran development team and the original creators of Defense of the Ancients (one of the world'­s most popular player-made mods), League of Legends combines elements of the role-playing and strategy genres with addictive battle action. League of Legends brings accessible, replayable and endlessly competitive gameplay that deepens with the player's commitment.

Bolded emphasis mine.

  • 3
    Riot Games DID NOT invent this type of game so they DO NOT hold the "rights" to simply say "this is the official name of the genre" Commented Aug 16, 2011 at 18:08
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    @Hexa - It's their game, so I think they're well within their right to name the genre of their own product -- which was the point of the question, after all. I'm going to poke around and see if I can't find what HoN et al call their games. Commented Aug 16, 2011 at 18:24
  • 2
    They can name the genre of the game all they want, it doesn't mean it will be the real name of the genre. Commented Aug 16, 2011 at 18:26
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    It's worth noting that Monday Night Combat has also stated that they consider their genre a MOBA
    – tzenes
    Commented Aug 16, 2011 at 20:49
  • 3
    @hexa: That reminds me of a comment I read somewhere saying something like "LoL/HoN/etc are NOT MOBAs, they're dota clones". So all FPS games are doom clones? :P
    – RCIX
    Commented Aug 31, 2011 at 14:59

The name seems to be simply : DotA (Defense of the Ancients) since this is this mod who made this genre popular.

Wikipedia states that:

Alternative terminologies

Terms commonly used to refer to the Dota genre include but are not limited to "AoS style games" (Note "Aeon of Strife" a mod in StarCraft), "DotA style games", "DotA based games", "Dota games", "DotA clones", "DotA-Likes", "Action Real-time strategy games", and "Action RTS games". Dota games can also be simply referred to as DOTAs.[3] Riot Games has also been known to use the self-coined term, "Multiplayer Online Battle Arena".

MOBA terms seem not widely used and, for the records, is currently redirected to DotA genre on wikipedia.

I think a common agreement is not defined. And in my opinion, this is gonna end speaking of those games as "Dota-likes" as it was for Doom and its "Doom-likes".

  • 1
    I had never heard MOBA before. AoS and DotA, on the other hand, are very clear.
    – user7220
    Commented Aug 16, 2011 at 17:58
  • Wikipedia shouldn't be the premier source for questions about gaming genres. Furthermore, I've heard "DotA-Clone" much more often than I've heard "DotA-Likes", which reiterates the fact that the wikipedia entry leaves much to be desired. Commented Aug 16, 2011 at 17:59
  • @Raven I agree. But I can't find other sources for this. Google seems also to pull more results on "DotA-like" than "DotA-clone" but still this does not proves anything. But you're totally right, this is not an authoritative answer. Edited in consequence.
    – M'vy
    Commented Aug 16, 2011 at 18:04
  • 2
    True, but doom-likes eventually became FPS, just like Rogue-likes became dungeon crawlers, or even Populous-like becoming God games. When a new game defines a new genre there's often a lag time before that new genre is properly defined, in this case the new genre is 'MOBA' (for now anyway). Commented Aug 16, 2011 at 18:23
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    To call it a DotA style game would imply that we should name genres after the first popular game of that type which certainly isn't currently nor should it be the case.
    – Bravo840
    Commented Aug 16, 2011 at 18:45

MOBA is the best suited genre of these games if we go by definition given in wiki

Multiplayer online battle arena (MOBA), also known as lords management (LOMA) or 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".

This definition clarifies lot of things. It explains the charecterists of a MOBA game which is matched with all the three games you listed and it also states that MOBA is sub-genre of RTS which valve wants to call its upcoming game, Dota2.

  • Valve calls its game an Action-RTS, that itself being a subgenre of RTS. However, that doesn't work for other games that don't approach DotA-cloning in an RTS fashion like Smite and SMNC.
    – Decency
    Commented Jan 3, 2013 at 14:51

By default all Multiplayer Online Battle Arena are Real Time Strategy games as well, so calling them MOBA instead of RTS is just more specific.

RPG is just plain wrong because we do not get to do role playing, the characters are fixed.

  • The character builds (items, leveling paths, and playstyles) are not fixed so saying it has some RPG elements seems like it fits.
    – Colin D
    Commented Jan 9, 2014 at 15:41
  • Meh, not even close. RPG means you get to develop a character. In LOL you play with premade characters for ~40minutes, with no RP elements, and everything is gone and you start all over again. Not RPG for sure.
    – Andreas
    Commented Jan 19, 2014 at 17:10
  • Not really. Look at say Bloodline Champions and Battlerite who quite literally are MOBA:s (In that you compete co-operatively vs other online in an enclosed arena) but in terms of gameplay share less with RTS.
    – trappski
    Commented Jan 3, 2023 at 8:04


Both ARTS and MOBA are weak names for the genre.

But at the moment ARTS makes more sense then MOBA and therefore should be the official name.

MOBA means Multiplayer Online Battle Arena. Multiplayer and Online are two features of most games and only defined one genre, namely MMORPG because it was the key feature of that new genre.

Why would it be necessary to call those two features for LoL,HoN or DotA? We do not call Counter Strike a MOFPS right?

Then there is Battle Arena in MOBA. Those two words a pretty generic and could mean Angel Arena too (a mod for Warcraft III in which you would select a Hero and fight against other Heroes, sometimes with static creeps to slay for money). Those words could mean any game that has team-deathmatch.

So why ARTS?

It stands for Action Real Time Strategy. Let's start with RTS since it is an old well defined genre. It mainly contains ressourcemanagement combined with an amount of units that you would build and control. Furthermore RTS are played from topview. Ressourcemanagement and topview fit most ARTS/MOBA at the moment. Units not so much. There may be around 6-7 units you can control but those moments are rare.

Strategy is generic. CS has strategy too, no one can deny that. But DotA,HoN,LoL do contain several layers of that. It starts with picking, goes on with itembuilds, early movement strats and timings for important events (Rosh,Kongor,Baron) + roles of each player. Plus you need to adapt your strategy quickly to the enemies behavior.

So strategy fits in my opinion rather well.

And now the icing on top: Action. Most generic word there can be right? It accounts for the fact that RTS have a tendency to be rather unpersonal at the start because player need to build and send scouts first while in ARTS/MOBA player do have only one real unit that gets close and personal early on and need full attention. Making it a mexican standoff from the get go with high tension. Even zergrushes do not last long and can decide the game while in MOBA/DOTA there are towers to explicitly make an early win impossible. Juking is another point why the term action is right in my opinion. Every click must be thought through and enemies must be read.


I do think both terms are not ideally for the genre but i believe ARTS is a better one even if Riot managed to popularize MOBA as their marketing term.

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