Zynga reveals mobile MOBA game Solstice Arena

Zynga today revealed its newest core game title, Solstice Arena, a multiplayer online battle arena game for mobile devices from the A Bit Lucky team.

A Bit Lucky is the developer behind games like Lucky Train and Lucky Space, which were shut down on Facebook in September 2012 while the studio continued to work on Solstice Arena. When Zynga acquired the studio, also in September 2012, A Bit Lucky’s employees became a part of Zynga San Francisco and continued to work on Solstice Arena, though little was known about the game at the time.

Today we finally learned that Solstice Arena is a MOBA game, a genre that originated with the popular mod Defense of the Ancients (DotA) for Blizzard’s PC and Mac strategy game Warcraft 3.

“Our main goal with Solstice Arena was, and is, to take gameplay we love from a genre we love and transform it in such a way that allowed anyone — hardcore fans and casual players — to experience the thrill of MOBA gaming right from their mobile devices,” the team said on its official blog.

The blog post explains that Solstice Arena will focus on hero combat, with three on three matches that take place in maps that encourage strategic thinking. The game will also include the persistent character progression commonplace in the genre and will monetize by allowing players to purchase aesthetic character customization options.

Matches in Solstice Arena will last about 10 minutes on average. Traditionally, as is the case with the current most popular MOBA game on PC League of Legends, matches can last for an hour or more. In the past few months we’ve heard of several game developers attempting to make MOBA games appealing to a larger, more casual audience by reducing the time commitment they require.

Developer Wyrmbyte, a Zynga partner, is getting ready to release Dragons and Titans, a MOBA game with matches it told us will last 10-15 minutes. Mobile-social game developer Sneaky Games is working on its own MOBA game, Arena of Heroes, which it says will have matches that will average at about 25 to 45 minutes. German social game developer and publisher Bigpoint’s modern military-themed MOBA game, Mercs Elite, will have matches that last 20 minutes, the developer told us during Game Developers Conference 2013.

With 70 million registered users, 32 monthly active users and 12 million daily active users, League of Legends is arguably the most popular game in the world. It makes sense that developers in the social and mobile games space will try to copy its free-to-play formula and make it more casual, but it remains to be seen if they will find success. It seems like competition will be fierce, and even with shorter matches, MOBA games are still historically extremely competitive and unwelcoming to new players.