Gamasutra getting its EG on

This article about LoL is a wonderful piece, if you define ‘wonderful’ as containing at least one factual error per sentence whenever possible. Honestly if this was published on April 1st everyone would call it a terribly lame attempt; that’s how bad this thing is ‘researched’. If you don’t play or actively follow LoL, the comment section will give you a good rundown of things (I’d do it but this week is not ideal for blogging, sorry).

26 Responses to Gamasutra getting its EG on

  1. Even allowing for broad generalizations that seem to be getting people worked up in the comments (okay, maybe every new Champion isn’t overpowered, but if a bunch are, and it happens regularly, it still might be a valid point, so pointing out that one that wasn’t isn’t exactly a refuting argument) the general conclusion seemed to be pretty obvious.

    “Hey, don’t emulate LoL unless, you know, you happen to be in the same situation as LoL.”

    Alrighty then!

    • SynCaine says:

      I took his advice more along the lines of my MMO advice to devs:

      Do you have a good MMO? Go sub.

      Is your MMO average to poor? Go F2P.

      Only here it’s a bit more general:

      Do you have the ability to make a great game? Do what Riot does for F2P to profit.

      Don’t have the ability to make a great game? Do what almost everyone else does for F2P and attempt to profit.

      (Also the part about champ power is 100% BS. There have been just as many grossly underpowered new champs as grossly overpowered. In a game as complex as LoL, with such a broad range of skill levels (from Bronze facerollers to professional players), pinning down expected champ power is very difficult, so Riot intentionally releasing something overpowered would be a massive disaster at each release. Not to mention the fact that I would bet most people don’t spend real money to buy champs since you can use the soft currency on them. They make their money on skins.)

  2. Jenks says:

    This isn’t an attack on LoL, it’s a warning to other devs not to try to replicate it. He may have a lot of details wrong about LoL but his main point is right.

    People keep holding up certain games as “f2p done right!” Those games can afford to be “f2p done right!” because they had massive, massive, massive built in player bases. You can give away the farm and convert a small % of users to paying players and still be a massive financial success if you have a ridiculous number of players. You can’t do that as a small developer making a new product. Small % of a small player base giving you money means you’re in the red. You can if you’re the first Dota clone to market, or the actual sequel to Dota, or the sequel to Team Fortress, etc. TF2 is an even more ridiculous example, as a game that had already made its money back and then some as a wildly popular traditional paid game.

    The second to last paragraph of the article is really what’s important.

    TL;DR
    F2P can only be profitible with a ginormous user base or if it fucks the players

    • SynCaine says:

      “Those games can afford to be “f2p done right!” because they had massive, massive, massive built in player bases.”

      Um no. They have a massive, massive playerbase because they are F2P done right. It’s not the other way around.

      Riot was a startup when they made LoL, without a huge playerbase (especially relative to today). Still had the same business model (basically). They didn’t start off small with the usually shitty F2P model, got bigger, and scaled back on the crap aspects of F2P. WoT did that when they removed the blatant P2W gold ammo, but that’s not what happened here with Riot/LoL.

      • Jenks says:

        Absolutely not. Dota was massive before it was ever ‘f2p.’
        LoL was the first Dota sequel, developed by Guinsoo. Pretending it was a separate, original game without a mega huge built in audience won’t make it so.

      • Jenks says:

        Here’s the first 2 previews that came up in google

        http://kotaku.com/5314493/league-of-legends-wont-cost-you-a-dime

        http://www.ign.com/articles/2009/03/05/league-of-legends-clash-of-fates-preview

        Both open exactly how you’d expect – one calls it a Dota sequel, one calls it based on Dota. I can’t imagine anyone who played Dota didn’t play, or at least try, LoL – I know me and all my friends did.

        Remember, this is another time, before Dota 2 existed, and before there were fanboys of the two games’ minor differences.

        Of course LoL’s numbers grew tremendously because of its ‘f2p done right’ method. But it only could do that because it started out with a bang. Very few developers get to make sequels to the most popular mods ever.

        • SynCaine says:

          I think you pretty grossly overestimate just how popular Dota was overall prior to LoL becoming huge (which took at least a year after public release). Pre-LoL we are talking hundreds of thousands of active players playing something they had access to because they bought a massively popular RTS game, while here we are talking 60m+ people playing a game that is the WoW of today’s most popular genre in gaming.

        • Jenks says:

          You’re just misunderstanding my context.

          I’m comparing LoL out of the gate to any normal dev out of the gate. LoL today is a phenomenon that is hard to even compare to anything else.

          Other devs will not have the advantage of 1m users almost out of the gate. That’s my point. 1m (unofficial but seemingly the most popular guess of LoL’s user base at the end of 2009) is HUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUGE. You read Gamasutra – look how many postmortems talk about f2p sales in the hundreds or low thousands per day. LoL had, at launch, as large of a built in audience as you will get. Yes today’s LoL’s numbers dwarf that number, I would not dispute that because it’s a fact. You’re 100% right, we’re just talking about two different things.

          Population wise
          LoL today >>>>> LoL at launch
          LoL at launch >>>>> normal f2p game at launch without a built in audience

          That said, Dota was one of the most popular mods of all time. If you disagree on that point, then you’re dead wrong.

          http://thecreatorsproject.vice.com/blog/the-top-10-game-mods-of-all-time

          “There are reportedly 20 million dedicated players in China, and the official sequel is due this year from Valve in collaboration with mod creator IceFrog.”

          http://www.gamasutra.com/php-bin/news_index.php?story=18863

          “In fact, DOTA is likely the most popular and most-discussed free, non-supported game mod in the world, judging by the numbers. “

        • SynCaine says:

          Right, but the guy’s entire argument is “LoL is huge, so the model works, it wouldn’t if they weren’t huge”. 1m players LoL wouldn’t be called huge, model still worked. Guy is wrong.

        • Jenks says:

          If it broke 1m users in the first 3 months, that’s almost as fast as WoW did, another game with a huge built in audience. I don’t see how you can downplay that. That’s huge, and it doesn’t get more huge.

        • Jenks says:

          Here’s some more food for thought

          http://www.superdataresearch.com/blog/mmo-arpu/

          The average cost to obtain a new customer for a f2p MMO is now $8. LoL makes $1.32 per user per year.

          $1.32 per player per year is acceptable, and will make you wildly successful, if you have a built in user base of millions, who in turn preach to everyone how great the game is and how great the monitization is. It will absolutely not work for a new developer not working on a sequel paying $8/install average.

        • Xyloxan says:

          Jenks, are you arguing that the main reason for LoL to be so popular is the pre-existence of Dota not the quality of the game itself?

        • SynCaine says:

          Dude come on, comparing WoW going to 1m, with the box costing $50 and it being $15 a month back in 2004 to LoL getting a million accounts is just silly levels of apples to oranges.

          And again, saying that 1m free accounts is some unreachable number for a new game is also silly. How many copies did Banished sell (a freaking hardcore city sim made by one guy)? How many copies has DayZ sold? Or Rust. Or Minecraft. On and on we could go. Saying 1m accounts (forget actual sales) is some mythical number that only Riot lucked into thanks to DoTA is just so off.

        • Jenks says:

          If you want to downplay an incredible, massive launch that can only be compared to the best selling games ever, fine. We can be done with that.

          Riot didn’t luck into anything. Guinsoo (and Pendragon) left developing Dota Allstars, and he made the first Dota sequel, LoL. There’s nothing lucky about that. He did amazing work with Dota allstars and he’s done amazing work with LoL. People followed him to LoL. Rocket didn’t get lucky that people followed him to Day Z standalone. John Cook and Robin Walker didn’t get lucky that people followed them to TFC and TF2. These people made all time great mods and have followings.

          Anyway back to the point, LoL’s revenue per user against the cost per user acquisition for new games pretty much sinks your argument, so this is all moot. Only someone with a built in audience or an extreme outlier can succeed with that model. Someone may be able to jump out in a different genre with this model, but eventually it too will saturate. This comment is probably the best from the linked article

          http://www.gamasutra.com/view/news/223071/Dont_monetize_like_League_of_Legends_consultant_says.php#comment24878

          I feel like if my first comment had the $8 vs $1.32 in the tl;dr, we wouldn’t be having this debate.

        • SynCaine says:

          “If you want to downplay an incredible, massive launch that can only be compared to the best selling games ever, fine. We can be done with that.”

          So you think getting ~1m free accounts for a game near release is ‘best games ever’ territory?

          Because that’s ultimately the point here. Ubisoft guy said LoL’s model only works because they have 60m+ players. I pointed out that the same model worked when they weren’t huge. Sounds like you are of the opinion that 1m free accounts is huge?

          Because if so, um… http://www.polygon.com/2014/8/12/5994141/goat-simulator-million-copies-sold

        • Jenks says:

          Why do you think “only” 1m dota players went over to LoL? That’s the estimate after only 3 months. After the first year it had 12 million. We’re talking about the sequel to the most popular mod in the world here (gamasutra reference above).

          He doesn’t say that it only works because it has over 60m players. Hugely successful is a bar much, much lower than the most popular game in the world. TF2 is hugely successful. Dota 2 is hugely successful. Most (99.99+%) games will not reach that level of popularity.

          You can reference outliers like Goat Simulator, Secret of the Magic Crystals, Angry Birds, etc, but it’s disingenuous. If your point is that most games get the same bump in users and press as the sequel to the most popular mod in the world then we’ll just have to disagree.

        • Jenks says:

          *flappy bird

        • SynCaine says:

          I’m talking about the 1m free accounts because you said the model wouldn’t work for a new game. I’m pointing out that lots of new games reach 1m, because that’s not really all that rare. Sure most games don’t reach it, but most games are garbage. But 1m free accounts is apples and oranges to 60m today, or 12m subs for WoW. Those ARE outliers, 1m free accounts isn’t.

          Also, do you think LoL reaches 12m in the first year if instead of Riot being Riot, Riot was Ubisoft and went with there advice for a more exploitative, shitstain version of F2P? Or did they reach 12m, and now 60m+ players in part because they do F2P right?

          The lesson learned here isn’t follow Ubisoft, aim for mediocrity and hopefully make a few bucks by raping your core fans. The lesson is be Riot, make a good game, and pair it with a business model that matches said good game.

        • Jenks says:

          No, 12m in 1 year is a combination of being a sequel to the most popular mod in the world and having the ‘f2p done right’ model.

          “The lesson is be Riot, make a good game, and pair it with a business model that matches said good game.”
          *And be one of the developers of the most popular mod in the world and make a sequel to that mod.

          I’m reading between the lines here and guessing you didn’t play Dota, jumped into LoL, now take part in ‘fanboy’ wars with Dota 2 (response to troll below), and lump Dota in with Dota 2, and now you resent the idea that LoL is a Dota sequel. Am I close?

        • Jenks says:

          Ok I did some research (typed /category/dota) and know that I was wrong :D But, that is the impression you left on me.

        • SynCaine says:

          Yea played a lot of DoTA at a pretty decent level. I think where you are getting stuck here is that DoTA->League connection. Sure initially a lot of DoTA players tried LoL due to who made LoL, but that isn’t as big a factor as you imply.

          I mean, how many ex-Blizzard guys have made games that drew initial attention but either failed or were just meh? And why? Because the game itself has to be solid. And part of being a solid game is not screwing your design and players via your business model. That’s what I object to most in Ubi guy’s stance; he is already starting from a crippled position when his approaches is to with the crappy F2P model. You’ll never be LoL with that as your baseline.

          Same lesson can be applied to Clash of Clans really; there are tons of similar games, but a lot of them have abusive F2P models, which is part of the reason they aren’t CoC. If CoC had the poor version of F2P, it wouldn’t be as huge as it is.

  3. wartzilla says:

    League of Legends is a terrible cash-grabbing game. Play Dota 2 instead.

  4. maljjin says:

    From a shareholder perspective, if the small number of estimated paying customers is right, it would be my concern. I would press the company to improve this number as I would see it as a missed opportunity. That’s all I got from this article, some kind of investment tips, but nothing about LoL or gaming.

    • Raelyf says:

      They begin by suggesting LoL is effectively exploiting their player base through OP champion releases and skins meant to trick new players and mislead buyers. They conclude that Riot isn’t monetizing LoL aggressively enough.The suggestion is that Riot effectively struck gold and is mismanaging it.

      The problem is that it’s an argument from ignorance. Weidemann doesn’t understand that Riot’s lack of aggressive monetization is a huge factor in why LoL is so successful to begin with. He doesn’t understand that it’s a huge factor League’s ability to compete with the release of Dota 2 and other clones. He doesn’t understand that in a hyper competitive game like League with plenty of alternatives, any whiff of P2W will drive your players off in a heartbeat.

      Basically, this is the case of someone walking into an industry they know nothing about and telling those with years of experience they’re doing everything wrong. It might land Weidemann a job with a Zynga wannabe, but it’s not going to impress anyone else.

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