Why is League of Legends so popular?

It doesn't matter if you're a gamer or not, you must've heard of League of Legends if you've been using the internet since 2009. With its enormous popularity, loyal players and esports scene, League of Legends is now a cult in gaming. A few years ago it was a competitor to Dota 2, now LoL is a "brand ambassador" for gaming. How did we get here?

It was labelled a knock-off of Dota 2 and an easy game for newbies but League of Legends is here and has held its own while most of its competitors have lost their fan base. LoL has transformed Riot Games from a simple studio to one of the biggest gaming producers in the world. Everyone has their own opinion about the game, but you have to admit: It's a success.

Start of League of Legends

Known for their success in Defense of the Ancients, DotA, some of the developers decided to leave and create a new studio: Riot Games. Their nicknames were Tryndamere and Ryze, later incorporated in the game as champions. Riot Games’ new MOBA game would be free-to-play and wouldn't require another game as DotA did back then.

Although a free-to-play game without a single-player feature was still a new concept for Western audiences and publishers, Riot Games managed to make this new attempt at gaming. They also agreed with Tencent for publishing in China, who would later buy Riot Games as a whole.

Starting with 40 champions (characters) and the first map of the game, Summoners’ Rift, League of Legends was already a success. Instead of charging for playing the game, LoL would offer cosmetic accessories like skins, and Riot Games never thought about making it a pay-to-win game. That’s how they were successful from the start.

Simplicity

Obviously, a game has something special to offer to attract wide audiences. For League of Legends, it was always simplicity. While DotA attracted a small niche audience, Riot aimed for more: they wanted League of Legends to be a game that could be played by anyone. At lowest settings, you can probably play it with a toaster oven, and even if you haven’t played a video game before, LoL finds a way to explain itself to you.

While it had other competitors over the years, LoL’s number one rival was always DotA. LoL won the battle a long time ago in terms of active players, but still, it is the number one priority for League of Legends to be welcoming to new players. The game is simple and clear and when it becomes harder for players to understand what they are looking at, Riot Games always interferes and tunes things down a bit with regular patches.

Although the simplicity of the game was a cause for criticism at the start, now, Riot Games is praised for their decisions and dedication to keeping LoL newbie-friendly. After all, the mobile game industry now stands on those principles.

Riot’s approach

Riot Games’ approach to making a game could be summarized as simplicity, keeping the game free and focusing on the competitive part of the game. We have seen these three principles in both VALORANT and Wild Rift. When Riot tries to attract wider audiences, they easily do so with these principles.

As mentioned earlier, while simplicity could be a part of the game, it also means you can play the game with any computer. Riot never offers outstanding graphics. If you want to pay for cool-looking stuff, you can always get incredible skins with your money. If you don’t have money, that’s okay: Riot just wants you to play the game.

For free-to-play games, the active player count is vital. You can’t get everyone’s money but you can keep everyone in the game. The perfect way to do that is by introducing a competitive system. Players can play the game all day long to get better and rank higher in the game, showing off their achievements to their friends and if they decide, to the public.

Riot Games has also worked on amazing animations and songs since the start of League of Legends, they are more than just a game studio now. These animations are a massive boost to the player base and Riot never does anything less than amazing when it comes to them.

Esports

Esports is the number one thing that drives such a competitive system, and Riot Games put esports in the first place since the start of League of Legends. Most of the time, esports is an extra marketing tool for the game itself, and this approach is copied by many games, especially mobile ones.

Players are encouraged to play more to get better, and in the end, they can participate in esports. From very small tournaments where they can win 10-20 euros and attend a social event to global events like Worlds 2022 where they can win a million dollars in the end, esports offers a dream for everyone.

Worlds 2022 is starting at the end of the year, and it is a time when all League of Legends players focus on one thing only. From casual players to the best-ranked players, everyone watches Worlds, sings its song (featuring Lil Nas X this year) and plays League of Legends more than any other time in the year. Last year, the peak viewership count of Worlds 2021 was at a massive 73,860,742.

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