Tue. Jun 18th, 2024

The world of gaming is a diverse one, with numerous genres and sub-genres catering to different tastes and preferences. Two such genres that have been a topic of debate are MOBA (Multiplayer Online Battle Arena) and RTS (Real-Time Strategy). While both genres share some similarities, there is a distinct difference between the two. This brings us to the question at hand – Are MOBAs considered RTS? In this article, we will explore the debate surrounding this topic and provide our take on the matter. So, let’s dive in and find out what separates MOBAs from RTS games.

Quick Answer:
MOBA, or Multiplayer Online Battle Arena, is a subgenre of real-time strategy (RTS) games that gained popularity in the late 2000s and early 2010s. MOBA games typically involve teams of players battling against each other in a virtual arena, with each player controlling a single character or “hero” that they must level up and equip with items to enhance their abilities. While MOBA games share some similarities with traditional RTS games, such as resource management and base building, they are typically more focused on action-based gameplay and player-vs-player combat. As a result, some gamers and critics argue that MOBA games should be considered a separate genre from RTS, while others see them as a subgenre of RTS. Ultimately, the debate over whether MOBA games are considered RTS or not may come down to personal opinions and definitions of what constitutes an RTS game.

Defining MOBA and RTS

MOBA: What is it?

  • Brief overview of MOBA
  • Key features of MOBA games
  • Popular MOBA games

Brief overview of MOBA

MOBA, or Multiplayer Online Battle Arena, is a subgenre of real-time strategy (RTS) games that originated from the modding community of Warcraft III: Reign of Chaos. The main objective of MOBA games is to guide a team of characters, known as heroes, through various game modes to destroy the enemy team’s base. The term “multiplayer” highlights the necessity of teamwork and communication among players to achieve victory.

Key features of MOBA games

Some key features that define MOBA games include:

  1. Real-time gameplay: Players control their heroes in real-time, requiring quick decision-making and adaptability to situations.
  2. Team-based: Players work together in teams, usually consisting of five players, to achieve a common goal.
  3. Leveling and progression: Heroes level up throughout the game, unlocking new abilities and strengthening their characters.
  4. Itemization: Players collect items and equipment to further enhance their heroes’ abilities, enabling strategic customization.
  5. Lane-based gameplay: Most MOBAs have three lanes, with players and enemy teams occupying opposing sides. Players must navigate these lanes to engage in combat or secure objectives.
  6. Towers and inhibitors: Along the lanes, players can destroy enemy structures like towers and inhibitors to gain advantages and progress further into the enemy base.
  7. Jungle and neutral monsters: In addition to lane-based gameplay, players can also venture into the jungle area to gather experience and resources, fighting neutral monsters to aid in their team’s progression.

Popular MOBA games

Some of the most popular MOBA games include:

  1. League of Legends: Developed by Riot Games, League of Legends is one of the most played MOBAs worldwide, with a massive esports scene and a wide variety of champions.
  2. Dota 2: Developed by Valve Corporation, Dota 2 is another highly popular MOBA, known for its complexity and depth of gameplay.
  3. Heroes of the Storm: Developed by Blizzard Entertainment, Heroes of the Storm is a MOBA that incorporates elements from other Blizzard games, such as Warcraft and Diablo, and has a focus on team-based gameplay.
  4. Apex Legends: Developed by Respawn Entertainment, Apex Legends is a battle royale-style game that combines elements of MOBAs and hero shooters, set in the Titanfall universe.
  5. Smite: Developed by Hi-Rez Studios, Smite is a MOBA that is played from a third-person perspective, with a focus on arena-style combat.

RTS: What is it?

  • Real-time strategy (RTS) is a subgenre of strategy video games that involve real-time management of resources, troops, and buildings.
  • In RTS games, players are responsible for commanding and controlling a group of units and structures in order to achieve objectives, such as defeating enemy forces or building a base.
  • The primary focus of RTS games is on tactics and strategy, rather than direct control of individual units.
  • Popular RTS games include Warcraft III, Starcraft, and Command & Conquer.

Comparing MOBA and RTS

Key takeaway: MOBAs and RTS games share several key features, such as resource management, base building, and unit production. However, MOBAs are often not considered RTS games due to their lack of direct control over units, greater emphasis on team coordination, and different primary objectives.

Shared features

One of the main points of contention in the debate surrounding whether MOBAs are considered RTS games is the presence of shared features between the two genres. While there are certainly differences between the two, there are also several key similarities that are worth exploring.

  • Base building: Both MOBAs and RTS games typically involve the construction of a base or home turf, which serves as the player’s headquarters and from which they can launch attacks or defend against enemy incursions. In both genres, players must gather resources and manage their base effectively in order to maintain a strong foothold in the game.
  • Resource management: Resource management is another shared feature between MOBAs and RTS games. Players must gather resources, such as gold or minerals, in order to build and upgrade their units and structures. This can involve mining for minerals, harvesting resources from the environment, or collecting spoils of war from defeated enemies.
  • Unit production: In both MOBAs and RTS games, players must produce and manage units, such as soldiers or vehicles, in order to engage in combat with their opponents. This may involve constructing barracks or factories to produce units, upgrading units to improve their abilities, or recruiting new units to join the fight.

While these shared features suggest that MOBAs and RTS games have a lot in common, there are also several key differences that set them apart. It is these differences that have led some to argue that MOBAs are not true RTS games, and that they represent a distinct subgenre of their own.


One of the key differences between MOBAs and RTS games is the level of direct control players have over their units. In RTS games, players have direct control over their units, and can give them specific orders to move, attack, or use abilities. In contrast, in MOBAs, players do not have direct control over their units, but instead issue commands to them through a series of menus and hotkeys.

Another difference between the two genres is the focus on team coordination. In RTS games, players must work together to build and manage their base, gather resources, and create a powerful army. In MOBAs, players must work together to strategize and execute plays, and coordinate their actions to take down the enemy team.

Finally, while both genres are real-time, the pace of the gameplay is different. RTS games often involve managing resources and building up to a large army, while MOBAs are more focused on fast-paced, intense combat. Additionally, in MOBAs, players must constantly be aware of their teammates’ locations and movements, whereas in RTS games, players can take a more hands-off approach and focus on managing their base and resources.

The debate: Are MOBAs considered RTS?


  • Shared features with RTS: One of the primary arguments in favor of classifying MOBAs as RTS games is the presence of shared features. Both genres share key mechanics such as resource management, base building, and unit production. In fact, MOBAs often incorporate many of the traditional elements of RTS games, including resource gathering, unit creation, and base expansion.
  • Involvement of resource management and base building: Both MOBAs and RTS games require players to manage resources effectively and construct buildings to support their economies. In MOBAs, players collect gold and experience points to upgrade their characters and build defensive structures, while in RTS games, players gather resources like wood, iron, and gold to fund their armies and infrastructure. This shared emphasis on resource management and base building reinforces the notion that MOBAs can be considered a subgenre of RTS.
  • Strategic decision-making: Another key aspect that connects MOBAs to RTS games is the strategic decision-making required to succeed. Both genres demand careful planning and execution, as players must evaluate various options and make split-second decisions to achieve victory. In MOBAs, these decisions may involve choosing the right items, anticipating enemy movements, and coordinating with teammates, while in RTS games, players must determine the best way to manage their resources, allocate units, and execute attacks. The strategic depth found in both genres highlights the similarities between MOBAs and RTS games, bolstering the argument that MOBAs are, indeed, a form of RTS.

Against-MOBA as RTS

  • Lack of direct control over units
  • Focus on team coordination over individual strategy
  • Real-time PvP is not the primary objective

One of the main arguments against classifying MOBAs as RTS games is the lack of direct control over units. In traditional RTS games, players have complete control over their units, including the ability to issue commands, give orders, and make tactical decisions in real-time. In contrast, MOBAs require players to focus on controlling their hero character and supporting their team, rather than micromanaging individual units.

Additionally, MOBAs place a greater emphasis on team coordination and cooperation, rather than individual strategy. While RTS games require players to develop and execute complex strategies to defeat their opponents, MOBAs prioritize teamwork and communication, with a focus on working together to achieve objectives. This shift in focus away from individual strategy towards team play is another reason why some argue that MOBAs are not true RTS games.

Finally, while real-time PvP is a core element of both MOBAs and RTS games, the primary objective of MOBAs is often not to defeat the opposing team in combat, but rather to complete specific objectives, such as destroying the enemy’s base or capturing key points on the map. This difference in objective emphasis also underscores the divide between MOBAs and traditional RTS games.


1. What is a MOBA?

A Multiplayer Online Battle Arena (MOBA) is a subgenre of real-time strategy (RTS) games that are typically played online. MOBAs are characterized by their emphasis on team-based gameplay, with players controlling characters or units and working together to destroy the enemy team’s base.

2. What is an RTS game?

A real-time strategy (RTS) game is a type of video game where the player is responsible for managing and directing the actions of a group of units or characters. In RTS games, players must gather resources, build structures, and manage their economy while also directly controlling their units in real-time combat.

3. Are MOBAs considered RTS games?

Yes, MOBAs are considered a subgenre of RTS games. MOBAs share many of the core gameplay elements of traditional RTS games, such as resource management, base building, and unit control. However, MOBAs focus more on team-based gameplay and often have more complex team dynamics and strategies.

4. What are some examples of MOBAs?

Some popular examples of MOBAs include League of Legends, Dota 2, and Heroes of the Storm. These games all share the core gameplay elements of MOBAs, with a focus on team-based gameplay and strategic decision-making.

5. What sets MOBAs apart from other RTS games?

MOBAs are often distinguished from other RTS games by their emphasis on team-based gameplay and strategic decision-making. MOBAs typically have more complex team dynamics and require players to work together to achieve victory. In contrast, other RTS games may focus more on base building and resource management.

6. Is playing MOBAs challenging?

Yes, playing MOBAs can be challenging, especially for new players. MOBAs require strategic thinking, teamwork, and communication, as well as a good understanding of the game’s mechanics and strategies. However, many players find the challenge of MOBAs to be part of the game’s appeal, as it can be very rewarding to master the game and work effectively with a team.


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