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Is League of Legends Dying?

Is League of Legends Dying
By | February 20th, 2019 | Categories: League of Legends

This year marks the ten year anniversary of League of Legends, and with that milestone comes a recurring question that has been asked countless times over the course of its history. Is League of Legends Dying? Of course, the answer is not simple and many different factors are involved. However, the question has been brought up more frequently than before after Riot Games experienced a particularly rocky year in 2018. When the World Championship was held this past fall, specific issues started to be brought into the limelight as a result of how the event was handled by Riot. These issues raised a lot of concern for the developer, and many began to question the longevity of the title. Despite this conversation, there are reasons to remain optimistic about League of Legends moving forward.

Why are people talking about League of Legends dying?

  • Connected to important events
  • Decision to not relocate broadcasting crew
  • Strained relationship with parent company

Every year Riot Games designates specific locations for its global events, namely the Mid-Season Invitational and the World Championship. These venues change on a year-to-year basis, and South Korea was chosen to host the World Championship in 2018 after previously hosting it in 2014. When such events happen, a broadcast crew is required, with casters and analysts moving to the location in question for the entirety of the event. The World Championship typically lasts for about a month.

Throughout its history, Riot has earned a reputation for being reactive rather than proactive. That has been an apt description for the company for the most part and it especially holds true in this particular situation as fans began to piece together the idea that the broadcast would not be held on-site as it had been in previous years.

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This was a huge departure in terms of how the World Championship was going to be handled and nothing was said about the decision until people began to ask questions. Soon thereafter, Riot acknowledged that the broadcast would indeed be held in Los Angeles with a live feed from Korea. This was met with a fierce backlash from the community, and Riot was on the defensive for the weeks leading up to the event.

The natural question that came into play was the why behind the decision. Earlier in the year, Riot was the focus of a journalistic investigation into sexual harassment in the company. This put a huge spotlight not only on the developer but League of Legends itself. Riot issued an apology regarding the matter, but it was not enough to quell the ardent fervor behind the discussion.

With such a conversation taking place, it seemed strange to make a controversial broadcasting decision in the same year, which seemed to be understood as such by the company in light of the fact no official announcement was made until after it started being questioned by the community. Ultimately, Riot’s hand was forced by its parent company.

Before the World Championship occurred, speculation started to float around pertaining to the relationship between Riot Games and Tencent. In December 2015, Riot Games was fully acquired by Tencent and much of their relationship remained hidden prior to this point. When the broadcast for the World Championship was revealed to not be held on-site, a report surfaced indicating a strained relationship between the two entities. This decision was readily seen as a move to cut costs to appease Tencent. Cutting costs is often seen as a sign of future problems in the public eye and it painted not only a bleak picture but a condemnation about the longevity of the title itself.

Is League of Legends actually dying?

  • No strong competition
  • Created new genre
  • Global popularity
  • Frequent updates

In its early years, League of Legends flourished as a competitive e-sport because there was almost no strong direct competition. League of Legends became popular during a time when the competitive scene around Starcraft II stated to die out. Its most direct competition was always CS: GO, but to the benefit of League of Legends, Counterstrike never took off to the same amount in Asia as did League of Legends. Furthermore, CS:GO was not reinventing the wheel in any way, and while it was a strong title in many different global markets, particularly European countries, it did not bring about an entirely new genre of game in the same way League of Legends did.

However, Playerunknown’s Battlegrounds changed the e-sports scene in much the same way as did League of Legends. By introducing a new concept, it completely took over computer gaming and routinely outperformed League of Legends in viewership on Twitch. Its mantle was eventually picked up by Fortnite and more recently, Apex Legends, and these battle royale titles have often been cited as evidence that League of Legends is dying in favor of newer, more popular titles.

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While it is certainly true LoL has lost some of its steam and player base to these other games, there is simply not enough evidence to warrant a blanket statement regarding the longevity of League of Legends. League of Legends has remained an incredibly successful title across the globe and it is this global popularity that keeps it relevant year in and year out. What helps the game the most are the routine changes made to it with every patch. League of Legends has not remained static for very long at any point in time, and this ability to remain fresh and different is its strongest point.

League of Legends continues to be played by millions of players around the world. It still makes a lot of money and benefit greatly from the increased attention around the music video produced by Riot Games to celebrate the World Championship last year. League of Legends is still very much in the minds of millions of players and this will hold true unless Riot oversteps and continues to make costly mistakes.

Final Thoughts

Last year was a difficult year for Riot and it showed in how it handled poignant controversy directed towards the company. This created a reinvigorated conversation about this: Is League of Legends Dying? Riot certainly made a number of mistakes, but they are not enough to cripple the game. While there is more competition than in years past, League of Legends has shown an ability to withstand it before when Overwatch launched, and it will continue to do so in the future. League of Legends is supported in many countries across the world and this global popularity will keep it alive in the years to come.

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