Enhancing Your Appearance with League of Legends Ward Skins
There was a distinct lack of cosmetic items within the League of Legends ecosystem when it first launched. This gradually changed over time, to the point where cosmetic items are ingrained into the game itself. The most notable example of their popularity is the abundance of champion skins that can be purchased or obtained. When playing, it often proves difficult to enter a game that doesn’t have any players using skins.
This is particularly interesting given the backlash against microtransactions within the gaming community over the past year. These cosmetic items have no bearing on the overall gameplay experience, and as a result, League of Legends remains unaffected by the outrage. Perhaps, the most surprising aspect to dodge scrutiny is League of Legends Ward Skins. These skins haven’t always been in the game and if they pique your curiosity, they are one of many additions to the game in recent years.
What are League of Legends Ward Skins?
- Cosmetic items
- Obtained via RP or Hextech Crafting
- No effect on gameplay
Simply put, ward skins are cosmetic items. A ward skin will change the appearance of Zombie Wards, Control Wards, Stealth Wards, Totem Wards, and Farsight Wards. Similarly to champion skins, ward skins can be purchased with Riot Points, which are in turn purchased with real money. However, they can also be obtained by permanently unlocking them through the Hextech Crafting system LoL now uses.
The most important thing to keep in mind when thinking about them is the fact that they do not affect gameplay in any way. Microtransactions have been involved in recent headlines because of their ability to hurt the gameplay experience for players. Ward skins and skins, in general, have been largely exempt from criticism because they do not give any player an advantage, other than personal satisfaction from simply owning the skin.
What is the history of ward skins in League of Legends?
- Originally rentals
- Only tied to a seasonal event
- Fear of making skins permanent
Ward skins were not originally a part of League of Legends. Ward skins were rentals when they first released. It was a seven-day rental that could be stacked. The first time ward skins were introduced was during the Harrowing event in 2012, which is the annual Halloween themed event for League of Legends. While the event was happening, different ward skins could be rented with either Riot Points or Influence Points, which have since ceased to exist.
At the time Riot was not confident in the future viability of ward skins. The rental system was in place due to a fear that players would either lose interest in them over time or they would in some unforeseen way affect gameplay. The developer was hesitant to allow them to be permanently unlocked because they would be a hassle to remove should those aforementioned issues come to fruition. During October of the following year, the ward skins became available for permanent use through RP, showing that it did not take Riot all that long to realize their value in generating revenue for the company.
When did ward skins become disconnected from seasonal events?
- First available in October 2013
- Permanently unlocked
Following the rental experiment in 2012, League of Legends rolled out champion-themed skins the following year, in October 2013. These ward skins became the first non-seasonal, permanent ward skins in the game. They centered around three specific champions: Draven, Soraka, and Lux. They were originally available for 640 RP each or could be purchased all together in a bundle for 1632 RP. These ward skins proved players were more than willing to spend money on cosmetic items, and since then ward skins have become a staple feature of League of Legends.
Why are they important to LoL?
- Allow for continued support
- Generate significant revenue
Every free-to-play game has microtransactions. In order to keep servers running and add further developments to the title, microtransactions are a necessary evil. In the case of League of Legends, history has shown that players want to spend money on skins that will change appearances.
For example, during the most recent Mid-Season Invitational tournament, 25% of the total sales of the Conqueror Varus and Conqueror Ward Skin were added to the prize pool, with the total fan contribution ultimately reaching $1.2 million. That number translates to a whopping $4.8 million generated as a result of two distinct skins. Riot Games continues to support League of Legends because of its financial success and one of the biggest factors that contribute to that success is the sales of cosmetic items.
Which ones are no longer available?
- Riot Ward
- 2015 All-Star Team Ice and Fire Ward
There are a number of ward skins that were only available for a short time and have since become unavailable for purchase, making them highly sought after. Perhaps the most notorious example is the Riot Ward. This ward skin was infamously made available only to attendees to Pax East 2014. Being limited to a specific event increases the rarity of the ward skin by a wide margin. There is speculation that it can still be currently obtained by attending an official Riot sponsored event and receiving a code, but such information is difficult to confirm.
Other rare ward skins include the 2015 All-Star Team Fire and Team Ice Wards. These were only available for purchase during the 2015 All-Stars event from November 30th to December 16th. During the event, there was a fire versus ice motif pushed by Riot and these limited ward skins embody that thematic choice. With such a short time frame to purchase, many players interested in ward skins missed out on them, only increasing their desirability in the years since.
There is no question that League of Legends is a gameplay focused title. As a result, cosmetic changes to gameplay are more interesting to players. There are fewer aspects to latch onto the outside of the gameplay elements for LoL. While they don’t give advantages, ward skins appeal to a large portion of the player base that desires cosmetic changes while playing a game they enjoy. Ward skins were not originally part of the game, but after seeing exactly how much they contributed to overall revenue; it became an easy decision to make them permanently available. There may be rare skins you missed out on, but if skins are important to you, they are not going away any time soon and you can look forward to more as League of Legends marches on to the beat of its own drum.