Saturday, April 3, 2010

Understanding League of Legends

The recent article I wrote in regards to the rotten community found in Demigod and Heroes of Newerth had prompted me to return to League of Legends, a game that I have abandoned since late last year because of its confusing launch. The game is supposed to be "free" but is that really true? At first, I considered the game to be officially inducted into my Game Library but due to its unconventional service setup - the in-game store wasn't even open at launch - I decided to just leave it alone and focus my attention on something that was more certain at that time when it comes to tower defense versus game: HoN. I downloaded the LoL client around 10pm last night and here I am at 1 o'clock in the morning writing about my findings.

Let's get one thing out of the way: The game is indeed free to play. All you have to do is sign up for a LoL account from the official website, download the client, and then dive straight into the game. This is how developer Riot Games make their cash from this free to play game: You are only given temporary access to a small number of champions in the game. By buying the "Collector's Pack" from retail or from the in-game store, you are given permanent access to 20 of the game's 48 champions. You can then buy 20 more of these champions in bulk via the Champion Bundle option. Strangely, this is not how Riot Games get their main cash flow because all of these champions can be unlocked by merely playing the game! There are two types of currencies in LoL: Riot Points that must be purchased with real cash and Influence Points that must be earned by playing the game. A typical Champion would cost you around $7.00 and typically, around 3,000+ Influence Points. So, if you just cannot wait to access certain champions, you can use real cash to get to them quickly. Or, you can think of it this way: Unlocking them can become a great motivation to keep playing the game! Each completed match will provide you with a steady amount of Influence Points, so unlocking them are not that difficult if you play the game often!

Pay or play? You can do both or just concentrate on playing.

Riot Games actually get their money mostly from the alternative looks for the champions as well as allotments of experience and Influence Points boosters: You can only obtain these things using Riot Points. So, in essence, the game is 100% free to play and the only instances when you will find yourself paying money for the service are when you are impatient about getting the things that you wanted out of the game, when you wanted to level up quickly, or when you want fancy skins for your favorite champions. There is a very delicate balance here though where these experience and Influence Points boosts don't impact the gameplay severely since players are matched against those with the same skill level. Leveling up too fast using these boosters may be a detriment if you are up against someone who has worked very hard to get to get to the upper tiers of the game. At the end of the day, skills triumph over everything else.

Thus, I am inducting this game again into my Game Library - permanently this time! I was able to find the "Collector's Pack" (see below) for $10+ cheaper on so I decided to go ahead and pick it up so that I can experience some variety immediately. As I mentioned before, this game is totally free to play so you don't have to purchase anything like I did here. If you are thinking of spending some money on the game though, buying this discounted retail box of the "Collector's Pack" will give you a lot more value for your cash than buying Riot Points directly in-game. Community-wise, the people who play this game are a lot calmer than those I found in HoN and Demigod. From what I heard, the hardcore DotA players shunned this game because of some significant gameplay deviations found in LoL compared to the DotA. It may have something to do with the ability for the players to persistently level up their "Summoner" profiles outside of the individual matches and Riot Games is very upfront about the differences between the two games. All I can say about those jerks is... Good riddance of bad rubbish! There were a couple of immature players in LoL of course - that just cannot be avoided - but the community difference is truly like night and day. Go get this game now!


Felix said...

Loner, I purchased the League of Legend Collector's Pack (Retail) from a computer store yesterday, however, when I installed it - I didn't get any of the 20 champions. Are you able to advice what I need to do to unlock these 20 champions permanently to my LOL account?

Loner Gamer said...

Did you redeem the promotional code that comes with your retail copy? I can't remember if you would have to do that first to unlock those champions. If there was no promotional code included in your copy, you should go back to the retailer. Otherwise, contact Riot Games for assistance.