With a player count reaching almost 5.5 million, Dota Auto Chess is one of the hottest games this year. Now its developer is hinting that fans might soon be able to play it on mobile.

The creators behind Dota Auto Chess, Drodo Studio, recently published a poster on Weibo. It contains an image of the company’s mascot bird dangling a smartphone with its beak. The caption says, “Coming Soon”. 

Most Chinese gamers are on mobile. This feels like just a matter of time. (Photo: Drodo Studio)

For the new and uninitiated, Dota Auto Chess was created by four Chinese Dota enthusiasts. It's an online multiplayer game which you play inside Dota 2. You and seven other players draft from a limited pool of heroes to form your own armies. You then take turns to battle all the other players until there’s a last man standing.

Chinese fans are excited about the possibility of playing Dota Auto Chess on their smartphones.

A top comment in a gaming forum wrote, “If this game gets on mobile, it’s gonna be a huge title.”

Some also express sympathy for Drodo Studio’s battle against knock-offs.

One netizen wrote, “My heart sometimes aches for a small company like this. It’s already barely possible to make something this good in one’s lifetime. But once they’ve made it, people are copying it.”

It's perhaps not surprising that the wild success of Dota Auto Chess has engendered many knock-off versions of the game, both on mobile and on PC.

The first copycat to appear was the Realm of Gods. It debuted in China on both PC and mobile just a month after Dota Auto Chess was launched. But the game, very similar to Dota Auto Chess except that it has ancient Chinese gods rather than Dota 2 characters, received a lot of flak from players accusing it of shameless cloning as well as rolling out a game that feels unfinished. The game was quickly removed from various app stores.

Chinese companies are extremely fast in cloning popular games and porting them onto mobile. Realm of Gods is just another example of this pattern. (Picture: Weibo)

Another notable clone appeared on PC recently. Built using Warcraft 3’s map editor, the Chinese knockoff plays almost identical to Dota Auto Chess, according to gamers.

Dota came from Warcraft 3. Dota Auto Chess then came from Dota 2. So naturally, someone would build a Dota Auto Chess clone inside Warcraft 3. (Picture: Shandianzhanxiaozhu/Weibo)

In its Weibo post, Drodo Studio stresses that it hasn’t licensed its game to any outside company.

Meanwhile as Auto Chess knockoffs keep emerging, various companies are applying to trademark the name “Auto Chess”. According to a Chinese government database, at least eight businesses have filed applications in January, including Tencent.