For the past couple of years, I’ve been enjoying a game called League of Legends by a “small Indie Studio” called Riot Games. The reason why I’d stick so long to one game was that it was challenging and had a high skill ceiling based on the champion, that the meta was changing, and that you could get to meet new friends through it and play with a lot of different people. I even met one of my best friends through the game, which is amazing. Riot kept the game relatively fresh with new enhancements and changes each season like the Rune/Mastery changes, item reworks and new additions to the map but as of late, I just feel overwhelmed with how fast new content is added to the game while old content seems to fall behind and not be used as much anymore.
Part of me wants to play those fun game modes again like Nemesis Draft (I know that everyone hated that, but I enjoyed it a lot) or Blackmarket Brawlers (I know that everyone loved that, and I did, too) but those just don’t make it into the game’s rotation anymore. Instead, we only have ARAM available to us as well as the Summoner’s Rift maps in Normal, Solo/Duo, and Flex Queue with some occasional modes added here and there for a temporary amount of time, like ARURF or Nexus Blitz. I don’t get why old modes or why the story modes that Riot developed don’t make it back into the rotation anymore but it’s something I like to see more that would keep the game fresh. Be it Blackmarket Brawlers, Nemesis Draft, Nexus Siege, Dominion, or even Hexakills, there’d be a lot of opportunities for Riot to even cash in on these modes with custom flares, map effects or other cosmetics that would only work in those modes and that would allow players to use their Riot Points to fatten Riot’s pockets.
But while part of me wishes for that variety, part of me also wants Riot to stop doing what they’re doing right now. Recently, they claimed that due to Covid (or other reasons), they slowed down their VGU (Visual Game Update) team considerably and want to release fewer reworks during the upcoming year while still doing their best to release six champions per year. You heard me right: SIX champions. This may not sound like a lot but the game already has way too many different characters in the game and adding more is not going to help the player reduce the load of information that you have to get through to understand some of them.
A lot of the older champions can’t be played as much anymore like Udyr who is receiving an update next year (after a successful vote this year?) or Dr Mundo who’s getting updated this year. These champions have issues with their kit where they are too basic and also don’t look the part too well, making them unpopular and bad in a way. Udyr is kind of in the meta right now but that’s mostly because of one specific playstyle and certain items. If those items get nerfed, he’ll be weak again. It’s not him being strong, it’s items being strong. Mundo is alright right now but again, he doesn’t have gap closers or dashes and he shouldn’t have those since he’s a tank… but without those, he’ll probably be not as popular as other characters and won’t see much play.
Right now the game features 154 released champions with the latest one being Viego: The Ruined King. There was a time where there would be only weeks between champion releases but the champion pool at the time was limited to a lot less than the current champion pool. But during the past few months, Riot Games has been cranking out champions on a nearly monthly basis, resulting in me still not quite getting what Aphelios does while also having champions like Lilia not see any play really while Rell didn’t get any love or play until she got picked up in the Pro-Scene… and even now she doesn’t quite get played that much… and then there’s Yone who also got released rather recently who does things at times that I don’t quite get and Seraphine who is rather strong right now besides being quite basic… and then there’s Samira who is a bit overloaded and the Ruined King who is quite overloaded as well in a way… and when you get this many champions as new additions to the game, it just feels weird for me.
You hardly understand what Rell does and suddenly the Ruined King comes to the game and it just feels bad because you didn’t quite get to understand how to play against Rell and you now have to also deal with Viego… and then there’s Samira and Seraphine and Sett to deal with as well…
And you can only ban five champions per team. There are too many champions that already are too strong and you can’t ban all of them. On my must-ban list, there’s Twitch, for instance, whose AP-Build does way too much damage and just one-shots me with no counterplay at all unless I play a CC champion. Even with tanky CC supports like Leona or Nautilus, he’s going to poke me into oblivion and shred me because daddy Riot doesn’t allow Tank supports to get tanky with the current item situation. Alas, I need to ban Twitch. There are also Draven, Kai’Sa, Fizz, Katarina and Yasuo for potential bans here but my team has their own nemeses, so I can’t rely on them banning my worst nightmares, especially since I wanna ban Yasuo to prevent my own team from playing that champion. No silver Yasuo should be allowed to play that champions as it ruins more games than it ever wins.
I mean, they even fucking brought back Yone who’s basically just a better Yasuo but people still play Yasuo into the worst matchups with no experience on the champion and without a clue about the game… Why do Yasuo players not just play Yone? Idk.
Because you don’t see the enemy bans, you could in theory only end up banning five champions instead of ten, especially when people skip bans, resulting in the game potentially featuring annoying champions with little to no counterplay or champions that are broken beyond belief or champions that were already super strong (like AP Shyvana) that offer some counterplay but just got buffed to increase their strong points even more although their play and winrate hasn’t lessened.
Sometimes I feel like Riot Games isn’t playing their own game. Maybe they’re actually playing a different one and dishing out changes and nerfs and updates to the game without the player in mind. I feel like Riot Games is trying their hardest to keep the game fresh and interesting right now but their focus is bad.
Instead of dishing out six fucking champions every year, they should focus on making old champions that are not viable or fun anymore fun again. They should try to update their champions, bring them up to today’s standard and make them fun again. Nowadays, every fucking new champion has a thousand different ways to one-shot me on top of being super mobile, having a lot of sustain and either stealing my ultimate or my summoners or my base abilities or they have an execute or they are super tanky and still deal a ton of damage or they just suck.
Riot Games should make boring or outdated champions fun again. Volibear started seeing play again but then his update came and people thought he was weak… but then people noticed how to play him and his win rate skyrocketed… But since Riot Games doesn’t play their own game, they decided to buff him and ended up buffing him beyond belief, so I swapped from Support to Jungle because it’s easier to carry my team through the game as Volibear than to carry my silver ADC through the laning phase. Riot Games has sometimes no clue about their champion. Did they buff AD Katarina because… it wasn’t broken enough already? They buffed AP Shyvana because nobody plays AD right now… I don’t get why they’re doing this. Fizz, an old champion that sees no nerfs these days, has damage over time in a hidden passive basically that you don’t expect at all, has two dashes, one of them makes him invulnerable, and he has high burst and great wave clear. On top of that, if that wasn’t enough, he gains a two-digit percentage damage reduction because he is “slippery”. Doesn’t make sense but fuck it, Riot Games.
Instead of nerfing a champion like Fizz that is unhealthy for the game and that is able to one-shot even tanks in late-game… in a meta that doesn’t allow people to customize their builds well against AP champions… Riot Games buffed it recently if I remember correctly. Riot buffed Fizz and items that Fizz uses and didn’t touch him in ages because: Why the fuck not? We’re here at Riot Games.
And I love the game. I do a lot. I enjoy playing it a lot recently… but I may not enjoy it anymore if they continue to give ADCs a dash when they are balanced to be immobile and if they continue to break the game by buffing stupid champions and releasing overloaded characters into the game. And I feel like other players will also stop playing.
Alas, do we need more champions? No, please. Don’t add more champions before you haven’t fixed your game.
Instead of adding more champions, I feel like Riot Games need to check out what Bungie is doing and release an expansion that vaults content and removes champions temporarily based on their win rate. That’d be fun, right? No, it wouldn’t but it would reduce the things I’d have to ban each game to maybe one or two.
What do you think about this? Let me know!
I feel like LoLs champion roster has slowly turned into an anime…And I mean this in the worst way possible. I stopped playing a few years ago because I felt like none of the new characters had any good theme going on.
Also, they all look pretty much the same…the pictures of Viego and Yone you posted could literally be just Yasuo-skins…and bad one’s at that. I never was one of the “hurr durr LoL is dying” people, but whenever I take a look at the game’s state, I’m glad that I quit while I still had good memories of it.
As for the balancing issue: That’s a problem that will never be properly fixed, because theoretically the game should be balanced for all stages of the game. from the Wood-Tier Casuals (which I don’t mean derogatory here) all the way to the e-sports scene, with everything in-between covered as well. That does not work.
Now, I don’t mean to be rude here, but from what I know, you’re in Gold-Tier. From a overall look, that’s still rather low. That means, a lot of what you’re complaining about here and deem as “uncounterable”, a pro would probably laugh about. Still, you and that theoretical pro (is Faker still a thing?^^) are playing the same game. Who should Riot take into consideration? The Gold Player with a small blog on the Internet? Or the e-sports scene that rakes in millions of cash every year? I’m no financial genius, but the decision would not be hard for me.
But I think you have the problem somewhat identified here: With every year there are more champions and kits get more and more complex. Old “safe” champions like Garen or Annie just don’t cut it any longer, they were fringe cases already “back in my time”. With the power creep gaining momentum, the rift (see what I did there?) between casuals and pros gets bigger and bigger, leading to more of those problems you discribed.
There’s no real solution to this. They can’t really combat the powercreep by making simpler champions viable again, because that would harm the e-sports scene. They can’t keep on adding more and more complexity, since eventually, nobody could learn the game from scratch (it’s hard enough as it is). And they can’t separate the casuals from the pros, since that would basically mean having two games, alienating the two scenes, and introducing a whole new batch of problems (smurfing being the least of which…)
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I agree that for the balancing issues my complains are nothing for people in the pro scene… but the issue is that I play solo/duo queue and that I don’t play full 5v5 clashes against other people. Faker and whoever will ban what’s strong because their team will be able to focus their CC on one assassin if needed. If their Fizz roams, their whole team moves. Alas, you can’t really compare the two there, in my opinion.
BUT I agree that it can be hard to balance something for different ranks… but Riot is doing that. If they see a lot of people in low elo (aka where I’m at, meaning Iron to Gold) complaining about one champion or losing against that champion, they balance it for everyone… but the reasoning behind it (as listed in the patch notes) is based on a colour-coded rank. Alas, this patch (11.3) Rammus got nerfed because of the Average League-Player (aka Iron to Gold) while Cho and Pantheon received nerfs overall, and while Anivia received nerfs for the Skilled bracket (Plat to Diamond 3). Taliyah, a champion I don’t see at all, was nerfed for the Elite bracket (Diamond 2 to Challenger). There is also the Pro leagues that also are a bracket on their own. Sometimes Tahm Kench gets nerfed so that they don’t play him in the Pro leagues… it’s boring to watch after all.
Alas, that works.
The issue is that there are no changes at all for champions that may not be played much but that feel very unhealthy for the game. And champions like Fizz or like Kassadin or Katarina are not just champions that I complain about (as a silver to gold player) but also champions that streamers I follow also complain about (and they are in the elite bracket, aka one of them is currently diamond something, the other two are in master/grandmaster already).
If Riot Games played their own game, they’d know how it feels to win against a Kassadin early on and obliterate them… only to then get oneshot by the 1/10 Kassadin that reached level 16 and now just automatically wins the game. Don’t get me wrong, you can obviously try and win before that… but a timer like that is unhealthy for the game. He did receive a nerf once a while ago… but it was for his shield on his Q, which was not the problem at all. The problem was his damage… or rather still is his damage. But Riot wouldn’t know that since they don’t play their own game.
And it’s not that certain champions can’t be countered. Obviously, you’d have to CC some champions in order to then burst them down… but it’s just hard to do when an AP assassin (like… Twitch Support…) just oneshots you and you then just can’t deal with it because you can’t get gold as a support after your item is completed… unless you get assists… but since you’re behind you can get magic resistance… and the items that give MR are too expensive for a support champion to get most of the time.
Annie for instance is still viable. Garen is also still somewhat viable. Skarner doesn’t see play because he has no gap closer. The updated Warwick and the updated Volibear? They have gap closers. I feel like three champions a year (at maximum) would still generate plenty of money for Riot Games while the updated champions will make veteran players pick those up again while newer players may like those now. The updated Volibear has a new playerbase from the old one and the skins look amazing. I feel like Visual Game Updates as well as Reworks need to take more priority than new champion releases to keep the game fresh. Otherwise these old champions will stay skill-free and boring on top of being not viable.
The powercreep solution would be: Don’t release too many champions. Release more champion updates for champions that don’t get much play. And introduce Draft bans. That way, you can’t ban the same champion on both teams and will end up with ten unique bans aka less of the annoying picks that aren’t that much fun.
I agree, pro and casual play cannot be compared. That was kind of my point :-)
For the other stuff, I can’t really comment on that, since I haven’t played in so many years, but what you say makes sense.
True, I never understood the Blind Ban. I never liked the ban system, although I know that its necessary. In an ideal world, every champion would be balanced enough that there was no need for a ban system. Or, at least, there wouldn’t be a semi-fixed list of banned champions, and you could ban whichever champ you don’t want in your lane.
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I mean, the ban system is basically just: Every player gets one ban. Everyone bans at the same time. You can’t see the enemy bans. In theory, two teams can end up banning the five same champions instead of ten different champions. I sometimes have to gamble whether or not Seraphine is banned by the enemy team as I have to ban Twitch because I can’t deal with that guy.
Alas, having a draft ban system would be a lot better… like, 1 ban by your team, 2 by the enemy, 2 by your team, 2 by the enemy, 2 by your team, 1 by the last one in the enemy team. That way there are no double bans and you would end up with less unhealthy champions in your game.
Oh well, no worries, just thought I’d write about it. Sounded like a fun topic to discuss in the comments. :)
The problem is that new champions is their primary revenue stream, and it’s multiplicative. People will drop money on RP to buy the Champion and then for the ones they like (i.e., the reason typically for intentionally overtuned champion launches) will buy the skin bundles and whatnot to go along with it.
This will be the primary strategy driving their rework and buff decisions too. ‘Which champions, out of our current active playerbase, is owned the least? And how might we get more people to suddenly cough up for it? And maybe some new skins to go along with it?’
It’s a tough tightrope to walk between what’s best for the game to retain players, and what’s best as a business so they can continue to be insanely profitable.
Sounds like at the moment though, they might not be quite getting it right.
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While I get that Riot Games is a company, I disagree about revenue being their main motivation here. There used to be a time when healing was completely fine in the game, back when Morello was still the leader in the balancing team. The issue was that ever since he got moved out of the balancing team, healing items and healing champions were out of control. They then restored the order by bringing him back and it got a lot better. If the game turns into a tank meta again (and it nearly went that way at the start of this season btw), people would stop playing again. That’s not what they want, as they need people to keep playing in order to gain revenue.
More skins mean more money but there’s a reason why Wukong hasn’t received a skin since April 4th, 2018: He just doesn’t fit into the meta really, even with the mini-rework to his ult and W. If they updated Quinn, Skarner, Nocturne, Shyvana or Udyr, for instance, to the point where they would have their place in the Rift, it would mean that Riot could add more skins and other cosmetics for these champions, resulting in more money. Right now people wouldn’t buy a Skarner skin even if it had boobs on it (I’m btw guessing that the average League player is 14).
While I agree that it’s a tough tightrope, I feel like making the game feel unhealthy for a lot of people to the point where they wanna quit for a few weeks between games, isn’t good. I feel like retaining players is more important than potentially losing those few players that could spend thousands on skins.
Alas, overloading the game with six new champions per year, especially when there are so many champions that see no play at all, is kind of bad. Instead, I’d imagine that vaulted content would be better at this point.
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I wasn’t arguing with you whether it was a good or bad thing, in fact was pretty sure from what you’ve said (although I have no recent first hand knowledge) it IS bad and out of control how they’re managing the balance of it all.
And they will know too, that continuing to add more champions just continues to worsen the issue.
The best they will ever be able to do with a roster this big is manage to the current ‘meta’, and shift it around yes in part to player feedback, but ALSO on what makes the most business sense to them in the moment for driving champion sales.
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I get you, I get you. Sorry if I phrased that poorly! And yeah, good point! :)
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