Smite (video game)

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Logo for the Video game Smite.png
Developer(s)Titan Forge Games
EngineUnreal Engine 3
  • Microsoft Windows
  • March 25, 2014[1]
  • Xbox One
  • August 19, 2015[2]
  • PlayStation 4
  • May 31, 2016[3]
  • Nintendo Switch
  • February 18, 2019[4]
Genre(s)Multiplayer online battle arena[5]

Smite is a free-to-play, third-person multiplayer online battle arena (MOBA) video game developed and published by Hi-Rez Studios for Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 4, Nintendo Switch, and Xbox One.[6] In Smite, players control a god, goddess, or other mythological figure, and take part in team-based combat, using their abilities and tactics against other player-controlled gods and non-player-controlled minions.

The game has multiple player versus player (PVP) modes, many playable characters, and has a successful esports scene with multiple tournaments, including the annual million-dollar Smite World Championship.


Smite features many different game modes with the largest being Conquest.[7] Players are formed into two teams with five players on each team. All players begin at opposite sides of a map at their team's "fountain". Before the players enter the map, they are granted an amount of gold to buy starting items. These items grant special bonuses or abilities that enhance the player's god. There are three continuous "lanes" running from one side of the map to the other. Each lane is defended by a "Phoenix" which is accompanied by a pair of extra defensive towers. Phoenixes and towers deal a large amount of damage to any enemies that come too close. The goal of each game is to destroy the opposing team's Phoenixes and the Titan, a giant warrior who must be defeated to win the game. The players are accompanied by "minions", small soldiers with a weak attack. These minions spawn at the Phoenixes every thirty seconds and run along their lane until they meet opposition and attack immediately. Archers will attack not only players and other minions, but also towers, Phoenixes, and the Titan. In fact, their presence is required for players to deal full damage to these objectives. Defensive positions will prioritize enemy minions over players, allowing players to attack a tower without receiving damage; however, towers will fire upon players if there are no minions nearby or the player attacks an enemy player under their tower. If a game is going badly for a certain team, they can decide to surrender after at least 10 minutes, though this requires a majority of the team (4 players to 1) to agree.

With every game, players have to choose a god or other figure to play as. Currently, players can choose between a large variety of characters from different pantheons including Chinese, Egyptian, Greek, Hindu, Japanese, Norse, Slavic, and Yoruba.[8] Each character is classified as one of the following classes: Assassin, Guardian, Hunter, Mage, or Warrior. Unless otherwise stated, two players on the same team cannot choose the same character (in competitive modes and those using a Draft pick method, each player must use a different character).[8] The player controls the god in a third person perspective, which is a unique characteristic of this MOBA, as other games of this genre are typically played from a top-down perspective. Each god has a basic attack, a passive trait, and four abilities with varying effects, such as area damage, crowd control, buffs, and many more. These abilities are acquired and upgraded when the player's character levels up by gaining experience from being in range of minions when they are killed, taking down towers or phoenixes, and defeating enemy characters. The maximum level is 20 and each successive level is more difficult to reach. Gold, which is used to buy items that increase power, defense, and passive effects, potions, wards and abilities, is accumulated through standard periodic income, by slaying enemies (player and NPC alike), or by selling owned items.

The large areas between the lanes make up what is called the "jungle", where computer-controlled monsters such as packs of cyclopes or Furies (the latter alternately referred to as harpies) periodically spawn at specific locations distributed symmetrically across the map. Killing certain monsters in said jungle causes a "buff" to drop on the ground where it can be picked up by a player, which depending on the type of monster killed will grant the player bonuses to stats such as damage dealt, movement speed, attack speed. There are three special neutral monsters who appear less frequently that when killed will grant the entire team who killed it a powerful damage buff for a medium length of time, set amount of Gold, and a speed boost when coming out of the base respectively. There are also some monsters which do not offer a buff, only experience and gold.[9]


The matchmaking system uses a modified version of the TrueSkill ranking system.[10] Around December 2013, there was a feature added that allowed players to choose between US and EU servers, but was later removed from the game due to issues with the matchmaking system. This feature was eventually re-added. Originally, most modes used to operate on queues with 3-minute matchmaking timers. Every three minutes, matches would be made from the group of people in queue at that time. In late 2014, that system was replaced with a more traditional non-timed one (a more popular format in many MOBAs) that looks for an optimal match instead of just the best match-ups at the present time. In this system, if it takes 5 minutes or more to match a player, the game will gradually lower its requirements until a match is found. A new matchmaking system similar to the original one was introduced in 2018, with different times for different modes. The system will prioritize the player's general performance over their account level.

In Ranked Leagues, players are matched by a variation of Elo, a system that rates players with a number that indicates how well the individual skill of that player is. The player will be matched with players that have a similar rating as them. The goal of this system is to have 2 individual teams that have a similar TOTAL Elo.


Smite was made available to the public for the first time on May 31, 2012 with its closed beta, transitioning into open beta on January 24, 2013. The game was officially released on March 25, 2014. Around that time, Smite reached 3 million players and later 4 million players in June that same year.[11] In 2015, more than 10 million players have played Smite.[12] In June 2016, Hi-Rez Studios announced the game attracted 20 million players.[13][14] In 2019, the game surpassed 30 million players and generated 300 million dollars.[15][16] In April 2020, Hi-Rez reported that the game had over 40 million players.[17][18][19]

International expansion[edit]

On August 21, 2013, Hi-Rez Studios partnered themselves with Tencent, an online media company that publishes video games in China.[20] On June 5, 2014, Hi-Rez Studios announced they partnered with Level Up! Games to bring the game to the Latin American region.[21] In October 2014, Oceanic servers were added[22] and in August 2016 southeast Asian servers were added.[23] In October 2017, the Chinese client was announced to be merged with the international client, with migration taking place late November.[24]


In mid-2014, Hi-Rez Studios implemented a system by which players could join professional leagues in teams of 5. Players first played in online competitions, then progressed to offline competitions. Next, the teams were ranked according to how well they did within these competitions, and finally, the top teams were invited to compete in the Smite World Championship. From January 9–11, 2015, Hi-Rez Studios hosted the first Smite World Championship.[25][26] Teams from North America, South America, Europe, and China traveled to Atlanta, Georgia for the tournament.[25] The $2.6 million prize pool for the tournament was at the time the third-highest in Esports, behind the third and fourth iterations of Dota 2's The International, and just slightly ahead of the League of Legends World Championships.[citation needed] One of the North American teams, COGnitive Prime, took home the first place prize with a little over $1.3 million.[27]

In July 2015, Stew Chisam, president of Hi-Rez Studios, announced that after discussing the prizing structure of Smite esports with team owners, players, and members of other esports communities, Hi-Rez would be placing a cap on the prize pool for the Smite World Championships at $1 million. This decision was based to pay out more money to more players throughout the year instead of paying the bulk of earned prize money at a single event.[28]

In January 2016, the Smite World Championship was held, returning to Atlanta, with the total prize of $1 million awarded.[29]


Cosplay of Neith, an Egyptian goddess featured in the game.

Smite received generally favorable reviews from critics.[30][32][35][36] The game currently holds a score of 83 out of 100 on Metacritic,[30] based on a dozen reviews by major video game critics.

Leah B. Jackson of IGN rated the game 8/10 and wrote that she is delighted with the wide variety of different gods and the detailed models, indicating "A new perspective on familiar game design can make everything feel fresh, and Smite doesn't stop there". Wes Fenlon from PCGamer rated the game 86/100, criticizing the low entry barriers for ranked games and emphasizes Smite's moderate willingness to provide new players with an easy entry into the MOBA genre. Keith Milburn from NZGamer reports some IA issues on the PlayStation 4 version that made the game less fluid. He praises the mixture of elements in Smite with PvE to create a pleasant chaos, which scores with MMO-like elements.[40] Paulmichael Contreras from PlayStation Life Style describes the free-to-play model from Smite as a fair system without falling into the area of "pay-to-win". Champions that can be bought extra fit well into the game balance without being clearly better than others, especially since paying for game content is just an additional option. Implementation on the various platforms is also highlighted.[41] GamesRadar+ listed in their top "Free PS4 games: The best titles you can download without paying a thing", saying "With a current line-up of 93 playable hero deities covering ranged and melee archetypes (with separate magical and physical combat types), spread over five distinct classes, there’s a huge amount of tactical team play to get stuck into. The free-to-play model is pretty damn pleasant, too".[42] Digital Trends listed Smite in their top "The best free-to-play games for 2020", indicating that "Smite has been a mainstay in the MOBA genre since 2014. It stands out for its third-person presentation, differentiating itself from League, Heroes of the Storm, and Dota 2".[43] CulturedVultures ranked Smite 4th in their list of the top "20 Best Free Games On Steam".[44] TheGamer listed the game 7th in their top 10 "Free-To-Play Switch Games Actually Worth The Grind".[45]


In June 2012, some Hindu leaders became upset at the inclusion of several Hindu gods in Smite and the fact that they are player-controlled. The deities that were in question were Kali, Agni, and Vamana (the only playable Hindu deities at the time) and there was particular opposition to how Kali was dressed. Rajan Zed, the president of Universal Society of Hinduism, released a statement urging Hi-Rez to remove these gods from the game, claiming their presence is trivialized and in other words, offensive to the devoted. Since players control the gods, this is seen as offensive to the faithful.[46]

In response Todd Harris, CEO of Hi-Rez, had this to say:[46]

Smite includes deities inspired from a diverse and ever expanding set of pantheons including Greek, Chinese, Egyptian, and Norse. Hinduism, being one of the world's oldest, largest and most diverse traditions, also provides inspiration toward deities in our game. In fact, given Hinduism's concept of a single truth with multiple physical manifestations one could validly interpret ALL the gods within Smite to be Hindu. And all gods outside of Smite as well. Ponder that for a minute. Anyway, going forward Smite will include even more deities, not fewer.

Despite the response from Hi-Rez, in early July 2012, the Hindu leader who spoke out against the game had not given up on his quest to rid Smite of Hindu deities and since his initial statement he has gained new backers from other faiths that have come together in support of his stance that the game's content is offensive. Rajin Zed was joined by Rabbi Elizabeth Beyer and Buddhist Jikai Phil Bryan in condemning the game's content as offensive.[47] These leaders have labelled the old Kali model as being depicted in a "pornographic style," which appeared to be their main concern.[48] The Kali character went under a major art and gameplay overhaul in December 2013, which included more concealing armour. Despite the protests, Hi-Rez has continued to expand the Hindu Pantheon roster, with its most recent addition being Ganesha.


Year Award Category Result Ref.
2016 BAFTA AMD eSports Audience Award Won [49][50]
Global Game Awards Best MOBA Nominated [51][52]
2017 Golden Joystick Awards eSports Game of the Year Nominated [53][54]
2018 Global Game Awards Best MOBA Third [55]
2019 Game Industry Awards Best Social Game Nominated [56][57]
Global Game Awards Best MOBA Nominated [58]


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External links[edit]