The WoW-like growth of League of Legends

League of Legends has experienced some rather phenomenal growth in recent months. Growth that in many ways mimics the early days of World of Warcraft, where an initial niche group of players (DoTA for LoL, pre-WoW MMO player base for WoW) jumped in on day one, and then through positive buzz more and more people were drawn in.

And like WoW, much of that success is due to simply launching a rather outstanding product. LoL takes what made DoTA great and polishes it, giving it a more professional look and feel while also tailoring everything around that core game. Sure the client is stable, easy to use, and gets you into a game without much fuss or struggle, but none of that would matter if the core game, the part that is almost 100% DoTA, was not a fun way to spend an hour or so per game.

But what separates Riot, the makers of LoL, from many other dev teams (including the team behind WoW today) is that rather than simply settling for the success that comes with shipping a good game, they embrace that success and aim higher. Between aggressively expanding their dev team, sticking to a ridiculous patching pace (one significant update every two weeks if not more), going above and beyond in terms of community interaction on the forums and at events, and (at least so far) not abusing their success and trying to ‘cash cow’ on the game, they are on track to continue the ‘good vibes’ around the game and to keep the snowball of momentum rolling.

The game also shows that if your product is solid enough, you can overcome initial problems that would otherwise cripple a similar product. For instance it’s almost a given that on patch day, the LoL server is going to have issues, ranging from slight lag to being offline for hours at a time. And until recently, due to that exceptional growth, even on non-patch days the servers were having issues and going down at random, much to the angst of the players (sound familiar early WoW players?). Then you have to factor in that in a competitive game like LoL, you will ALWAYS have people calling a certain champion OP, UP, or broken. You will always have a rapidly shifting metagame that itself shifts the balance of power without a single line of code changing, and you will constantly have to react quickly to players trying to game the system and advance by questionable means. So far, Riot has done a great job dealing with all of this, between clearly communicating champion changes, limiting exploits and cheating, and making significant progress in server and client stability.

Finally the business model itself is an important factor as well. With the upfront cost being zero, and the ultimate cost to compete at the highest level also being zero, the ‘Free to Play’ distinction truly does apply here. Riot balances convenience items (XP/IP boosts, buying champions with RP points) with pure fluff (skins) well, and the game itself does a handy job of ‘marketing’ those items. Even if you don’t follow what skins have been released and such, seeing someone in-game using one might trigger that interest. Likewise, the release of a new champion might motivate some players to create a custom rune page for that champion, and if they don’t have the IP to do so, they might be tempted to speed things up with an IP boost. Want to catch up to your level 30 friends quicker? Grab an XP boost, etc.

What makes the model not just acceptable but enjoyable is that along with new skins being patched in, all players also get new champions and balance tweaks, along with more major upgrades like a UI revamp or the upcoming graphics overhaul, so rather than fearing updates like many MMO players do in the F2P market, LoL players always have something to get excited about, be it something they intend to pay for or just enjoy for free. This keeps Riot as the ‘good guys’, and that goes a long way in terms of positive buzz and overall player satisfaction. It’s hard to root for a game when you fear or distrust the people behind it.

As I’ve said before, if you are looking to trying something different or get back to a DoTA-like game, you really should give LoL a shot. Whether you casually play a few games a week or attempt to climb the ranked ladders, it’s entertaining stuff that continues to get better and better. Sign up (referral program ftw) and feel free to friend me (SynCaine in-game), I’m on most nights now.

Chuck-o-the-day: Chuck Norris is the only person Kanye West won’t interrupt.

About SynCaine

Former hardcore raider turned casual gamer.
This entry was posted in League of Legends, RMT, World of Warcraft. Bookmark the permalink.

29 Responses to The WoW-like growth of League of Legends

  1. Anonymous says:

    I keep trying to catch you on but I always see you in game, then I join a game while I wait and then you’re in a new game.

    Pretty vicious cycle.

    • SynCaine says:

      Indeed it is.

      Best way to work that out is through vent, as usually we will wait for people who are about to finish a game. Hard without vent because you never know if people already have 5, or if this is their last game or whatever.

      • Anonymous says:

        I agree. It’s much easier setting games up with people that I know with vent.

        Is there some sort of vent server dedicated to people who read this though? That’s sort of what I’m getting from your post.

  2. Thorgan says:

    I agree with what you have said about LoL but I would like to add my 2 cents. Even though the game is great and Riot is a very successful company they lack in the support department. Their customer support plainly sucks and it is something that they really need to improve. I have purchased LoL box from Amazon with the code that gives 20 champions and some level 3 runes. The code does not work and even though I filed a support ticket 24 days (yes DAYS) ago I did not get any response from Riot except for email confirming that my ticket was received. This is not the way to treat paying customers. So my advice to everyone is if you want to try LoL please do because the game is a lot of fun but don’t buy boxed versions of the game and don’t expect Riot to help you if you ever have any trouble with their game.

    • SynCaine says:

      I’d suggest re-submitting the ticket, or making a forum post about this. I doubt it’s common for the code not to work, or such a request not to be handled quickly.

      • Thorgan says:

        Unfortunately it is quite common. Go check posts on the support forum. The reason why codes do not work is because they were meant for the EU server. For some reason EU boxes were distributed in US and they contain codes that don’t work on US servers. It is also quite common for people to wait month or longer for their support tickets to be resolved. Very said but like I said hopefully Riot will work on that aspect of the game.

  3. Paragus says:

    If your a die-hard Hardcore Casual fan and want to play LoL with your hero Syncaine, I might be open to letting some of the readers here into our vent to join in the nightly madness.

  4. Dril says:

    Heh, I hear all this great stuff about LoL but in the end I always utterly despised DotA. I loathe microing; and this is someone who has played Warcraft 3 online since it released. To this day I really, really hate it when a good strategy map is ruined by the fact that the “endgame” of the match really revolves around who has the best heroes and how they micro them.

    Hell, I even made friends with someone who liked a lot of stuff I was into but also liked DotA, so I joined him for a game, and while it wasn’t terrible, it reminded me of my I detest WoW’s PvP: once I was stunned, it was game over.

    So, yeah. Despite my terminal MMO burnout I can never make myself believe I’ll actually enjoy LoL. AND Wintermaul One keeps besting me :L

    • Anonymous says:

      In my experience games that aren’t 5v5 premades rarely hit the point where everyone’s at level 18 with their entire item build, they just don’t usually last that long.

      If you’re playing solo there’s a good chance you’ll play against people who also can’t micro at all, so it’s all good there too.

  5. The Unknown says:

    LoL is an average game drawing players from the obviously predicted launch of SC2 to feed from. Riot knew damn well that mods like DoTA wouldn’t be supported or even possible that close to launch and the idea of launching League of Legends at this exact time was premeditated from it’s conception.

    This is no different than the numerous blogs of yours claiming wow-clone. Now since it is something you like it somehow magically is allowed a pass from your bile to accept it’s roll in the limelight. I will then assume 1-2 weeks from now another mini-banner will go up with a promotion to buy LoL Gold with you receiving a small percentage.

    • Anonymous says:

      You know it’s been out for a while, right?

      It didn’t come out when SC2 did.

      • The Unknown says:

        No, I never said it came out exactly when SC2 did.

        • Anonymous says:

          You pretty much said that they timed it to take players from SC2 who realized that there wouldn’t be a version in game.

          That implies that they were released at the same time, otherwise you could claim that online poker was released at just the right time to take players from regular poker

    • Omi says:

      wait.. LoL gold? You can’t even trade currency in LoL. Also, the MOBA genre has been around since the original starcraft. Troll much?

      • The Unknown says:

        I really don’t think you understand the idea of syncaine getting a % of Gold SALES through his site. Again I never said anything about TRADING.

        • The Unknown says:

          let me clarify that a bit better. He would get $ from a % of sheeples purchases through here, “$” not in game gold.

        • SynCaine says:

          I did include my referral link, and if just 10,000 people make it to level 10 using it, I get a free trip to Riot studios to design my Blog-o-Sphere champion.

          Way ahead of you man.

  6. Omi says:

    I’ve been having the problem lately that I’m getting paired against lv18 players at lv 9. I’m not sure if that’s a matchmaking problem or what, but it’s kind of irritating getting rolled because the other team had 2 high levels and one guy 2 levels below you.

    • Anonymous says:

      The game intentionally tries to keep you at a 50% win loss ratio. The fact that you’re fighting players at a much higher level means that either they’re doing poorly or you’re doing very well.

      • Omi says:

        ahh, thanks for clarifying that. I found it really silly that they’d have a 800hp lv1xin in my lv bracket. Course hes going to wipe the floor with our team, we don’t stand a chance.

        • SynCaine says:

          Once you hit level 10 you can buy tier 2 runes, which while not as good as T3, are still not bad and will help you out, plus they are much cheaper than T3 ones. You can pick up a set of basic runes (HP, HP regen, cooldown reduction; basically anything most champions will use) for cheap, and you should end up at level 20 with enough IP to upgrade to T3 runes.

  7. KaKTy3 says:

    There is absolutely no reason to buy any of the lower tier runes—it’s a waste of IP. If you are struggling to get to level 20, than you should simply l2p.

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