The First MOBA - Aeon of Strife
Aeon of Strife, or AoS for short, was a custom map for the original Starcraft and was the first MOBA ever. The game featured two opposing teams, 3 lanes, minions/creeps, and RPG elements – all the basics of the modern day MOBA. A lot of people mistake the first DotA game for Warcraft 3 as the first MOBA, but they would be mistaken. DotA on Warcraft 3 is what popularized the genre, but Aeon of Strife on Starcraft invented the genre.
Aeon of Strife - The First MOBA
Starcraft launched in 1998 and featured a map editor called “StarEdit” that allowed players to create their own maps. This led to the birth of countless genres of maps within Starcraft, many of which had a profound effect on gaming. Tower Defense maps on Starcraft helped popularize the genre, but nothing had as profound of an effect on gaming as Aeon of Strife, as Aeon of Strife was a prelude to DotA, which inspired games like DotA 2 and League of Legends. MOBAs today are the most popular PC games in the world, with League of Legends leading the pack with over $1 billion in revenue in 2014, making it the most profitable online game in the world.
So what exactly was Aeon of Strife? Well, as mentioend earlier it was a map that featured 3 lanes and 8 playable heroes. Destroying the enemy’s primary structure was the ultimate goal of the game. Since Starcraft didn’t have the same RPG elements built-in to the engine, map makers had to improvise. Killing enemy heroes and AI controlling enemies awarded players minerals, the game’s primary resource. Minerals could be used to upgrade their heroes attack damage or armor, giving players a sense of progression. Newer and different iterations of the map emerged with different lane structures and other goodies too. Despite the game’s lack of features, Aeon of Strife still contained all the core elements of the modern day MOBA, just in a more rudimentary form.
The Game that Started it All
I actually remember playing Aeon of Strife on Starcraft on Battle.net well before Warcraft 3 even launched. I didn’t think much of it and never thought that the genre Aeon of Strife birthed would be such a big part of the gaming world. Heck, I’ve spent countless hours on games like League of Legends, DotA, DotA 2, and Heroes of Newerth. Add them all up, and it’s easily over 7,000 hours. MOBAs have clearly been a big part of my gaming life and in a way, I’m glad to have played the first ever MOBA. I just never thought it would have been such a big deal.