Why is League of Legends So Popular?
Despite other games taking the mantle over the last few years, League of Legends has been the face of e-sports for quite a long time and it is important to consider why the title has been able to maintain such a position for the better part of an entire decade. As a burgeoning field with more and more money coming into it on an annual basis, e-sports is positioning itself to overtake traditional sports to some extent, and this rise is an important context within which to situate the popularity of Riot’s title. There is a multitude of factors that must be examined such as global appeal, but the core driving forces behind Why is League of Legends So Popular will be examined in detail and give all players a better understanding of both the game’s historical and current position.
What makes LoL popular?
- Twitch was influential
- E-sports worked well with a live streaming platform
- Riot created both a broadcast and a professional league
Twitch is undoubtedly the single most influential development within the gaming sphere within the past twenty years. Before Twitch rose to prominence, the idea of watching others play live was mostly a foreign concept, mainly relegated to sparsely held tournaments. The world before Twitch was one reliant on YouTube for gaming content, but the live aspect was never part of the platform, and people were simply unaware there was any market for such a concept.
When Twitch became popular, it rose very quickly and fortunately for e-sports, they were able to take full advantage of the platform. E-sports titles work so well on Twitch because they are competitive games that provide an enjoyable viewing experience for the average person. No League of Legends game is identical to any other, and the defined nature of single player titles limits their appeal to live audiences.
As a result, as Twitch became more popular, so did League of Legends. Over time, Riot created its own professional league and broadcast for its game which came to be intertwined with Twitch itself. While nowadays the platform could easily survive without any single one game, that was not the case in the early years. Twitch enjoyed a beneficial relationship with League of Legends where they both fed into one another and ultimately played a pivotal role.
What else contributed to the popularity of League of Legends?
- Global game with millions of players
- Popularized the MOBA
- Appeals through game design
League of Legends is a global game with millions of players playing daily around the world. As is evidenced by both the Mid-Season Invitational and World Championship, more and more regions are fielding teams in different areas of the world. Compared to a title like Counter-Strike, which has a predominantly European audience, or Starcraft II, which has a predominantly Korean audience, League of Legends manages to breach both markets successfully and this global appeal is arguably the most significant factor contributing to its popularity. However, why exactly does League of Legends have a global appeal?
While there is no way to answer such a question with complete certainty, League of Legends popularized its own genre of game, the MOBA. By publicizing something new, it opened the possibility of it appealing to a lot of people. By being neither a first-person shooter nor an RTS, League of Legends could take elements from both Counter-Strike and Starcraft II and appeal to audiences of both games.
Furthermore, in the way the game is designed, League of Legends appeals to players both looking for a competitive experience requiring teamwork and coordination, and individual matchups. By having five distinct roles and three separate lanes, players can focus on a very limited part of the game at the beginning and then transition to teamwork coordination as the game progresses. By not focusing exclusively on either aspect, League of Legends broadens its appeal and casting a wide net across multiple audiences is a big reason why the game is so popular, even in 2019, ten years after it all began.
Is there a specific element of the game that helps with popularity?
- Champion appeal
- Similar to Overwatch
- Easy to connect with champions
If you contrast League of Legends with other e-sports titles such as Fortnite, Counterstrike, et cetera, the single biggest aspect missing in those games is the appeal champions inherently bring to the table. Despite the genre difference, League of Legends is most like Overwatch.
Overwatch is a title that markets the heroes and uses them as the driving force behind the core gameplay elements. Teams are drafted based on hero composition and are the single greatest consideration before a game begins. League of Legends operates in much the same way. Ultimately the deciding factor in all matches is how well five different champions synergize together, which begins during champion select. Being so important, the champions themselves need to have an inherent appeal, and Riot accomplishes this in spades.
By having over 140 different champions, all with unique voiceover work and abilities, it is easy for any player to find a specific champion that resonates with him or her. The appeal of champions plays into the game’s popularity by providing a point of connection and this connection manifests itself with cosplay, skin sales, artwork, and other mediums of expression. Riot understands just how important champions are to the game’s ecosystem and by designing them so well, the developer allowed the game to become popular, and this defining characteristic sets it apart from a lot of other titles.
Legends of Legends is incredibly popular. Why is League of Legends So popular? As an e-sport, it received a strong boost from Twitch and while Twitch has continued to grow, so has the game. League of Legends took full advantage of a free streaming platform and created a professional league and broadcast around it. Furthermore, by incorporating elements from other games to create a distinct genre, Riot fostered global appeal in the game, which has continued until today. While both factors are important, champion appeal pushes League of Legends over the edge by creating renewed interest in the game by establishing connections with fans and feeding into the creative expression ecosystem. While none of these answers are definitive, taken together they provide a clearer picture as to how exactly League of Legends became so popular and how it will most likely remain as such for several years to come.