As previously mentioned, I’m back playing League of Legends a bit. This marks ten years of playing the game on and off, though if I had to guess it’s my most played game overall in that timeframe. It’s also the game I’d say is as close to perfect at what it does as any game out, and I don’t just mean gameplay, I mean the whole package is a master class in game design and business model in 2020. The fact that LoL is one of the most popular and profitable games out also means I’m not alone with that opinion.
Beyond all of that however, LoL is also the blueprint for how a game can become a hobby and an eSport. It’s a hobby vs just a game because it’s something that has stayed relevant and current in those 10 years. It hasn’t really ‘aged’ by gaming standards; it looks, sounds, and plays as good or better as any modern game. At the same time, the core game IS the same as it was 10 years ago. 5v5 team-based PvP on basically the same map, with heroes having the same setup of 3 skills + ultimate, where you buy items and level up. This is why the eSport piece of it works; if you ever played LoL you can watch a match and know what is going on, and year after year familiar teams and players compete and grow their brand and the sport itself. In gaming circles Faker is the Michael Jordan of eSports, and in South Korea Faker is Michael Jordan in terms of celebrity status.
Ten years ago I could not imagine a non-MMO staying relevant year after year. Back then we bought a game, played it, maybe returned for an expansion or some DLC, but for the most part you moved on. Today think about how many games are truly more of a service than just a game. Grand Theft Auto 5, Counter Strike, DoTA, PUBG, Rainbow 6, ARK, etc. I think LoL does this best, and I would not be the least bit surprised if in ten years, I’m still playing it, and it’s still a keystone of eSports.