Riot clarifies its philosophy about monetization in League of Legends.
League of Legends has been one of the most renowned faces of free-to-play games since its inception. The game is not without its flaws, but Riot ensuring that no one has to spend a dime in the game to get any competitive advantage is commendable.
The question arises: How does such a huge IP sustain so long? Well, there are multiple sources for Riot’s monetary streams. In-game Skins and other accessories, such as emotes, icons, extra loot in the shape of Hextech and Mastercraft box, etc, are purchasable with real money. But make no mistake, they are all still obtainable through investing hours played.
You can get almost all the skins through Hextech crafting. And they are completely free to get by getting S on a champion. But they are limited to a certain number per week. So, if you want to get more, only then you might have to pay. This is a very balanced system, that gives you the freedom to how you want to spend, if you want.
Riot has talked about its monetization philosophies in a recently published dev blog. In this article, I will try to present them with more clarity.
Monetization Criteria of Riot For LoL
Riot has some specific, well-defined values regarding the monetization of League of Legends. These core values have not changed since the game was released more than a decade ago.
No Compromise in Quality
Riot’s primary focus has always been ensuring the best they can offer. League experience has evolved, both in technical and cultural aspects. What Riot used to believe back then may differ greatly from what they now. But they will never make it, so you will need to pay to win matches. This is a clear compromise to the game’s overall quality as it brings different players to different playing fields
That is why all the champions and runes are free to purchase with Blue Essence. Although everything is not accessible right off the bat, you need to play more to get more to get them. But that also serves to give you a sense of progress.
League of Legends has its flaws. But it’s truly beautiful how you can reach the pinnacle of rank, Challenger, without having to spend a penny.
Feeling Good about Purchases
Now, even though it’s free-to-play, there are optional purchases available in the form of skins, chromas, lootboxes, etc. You can even purchase all the free content as well if you want to get them faster. These options are available to ensure that Riot can earn some bucks to further improve the game for a better experience for the players.
However, Riot still puts great care into making the purchases feel worthwhile. LoL has one of the biggest player bases. A huge portion of them represents the young generation, who usually do not have the financial power to spend on ‘game items.’ Often, they have to sacrifice from other parts of their daily lives to accumulate enough to get that much-desired legendary skin.
That’s why Riot has placed purchase limits, as in you cannot purchase infinitely every day. This limitation encourages you to cherish them more. This is the same reason why there’s a refund limitation. It indirectly demands the players to think carefully before making a buying decision. Moreover, this also serves as a protective measure against reckless buying behavior.
The game also has milestone rewards, which give you bonus loot for completing a certain number of purchases of some goodies. But these bundles and event passes are carefully designed so the total value you get feels more satisfying than guilt from expenditure.
Usually, game developers, who are commercially driven, don’t like to think about player satisfaction when it comes to in-game purchases. They are mostly satisfied with just getting the most sales, regardless of the means. But the fact that Riot even wrote about this in their dev blog, empathizing with players’ emotions while making a purchase, is praise-worthy. At the very least, they are thinking about our welfare, even if it’s not perfect always.
Riot plans to keep on this track, focusing on quality and player satisfaction. At the same time, they also recognize that League of Legends has a wide range of areas where players often excel. Not all types of excellence are rewarded.
For example, for reaching Gold and above, you get a victorious skin and chromas. This is to reward your competitive excellence and the hundreds of hours of grind. But some people spend thousands of hours mastering a single champion. They don’t get tangible rewards for that.
Riot wants to make every endeavor such as that worthwhile because it plays a huge role in shaping the overall League experience.