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In 2014, League of Legends had 27 million players daily, making it the most played game in the world.
League of Legends is one of the mammoths of the gaming industry (along with DOTA 2 and World of Warcraft). In 2014, they had 27 million players daily, and 67 million monthly, which is the best statistics any game has ever had in the world.
The numbers get even crazier.
In the recent World Championships in 2015, there was a total of 360,000,000 hours of live e-sports viewed, with the average fan watching for at least an hour per session. The viewing records have smashed every other game's.
How did they achieve this success, and how did word-of-mouth play a role in this?
1. Rankings and ladders give players something to aspire to (and brag about!)
League of Legends has a 6-tiered ranking system, which allows you to jump to different ranks when you’ve achieved a certain ratio of wins vs losses. The players then play within that rank, in order to account for skill level.
Players can also opt to just play normally without participating in the ranked system, which allows leisure gamers to have fun and enjoy the community.
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2. Team dynamics incentivizes players to recruit their friends – a well-knit team wins more games!
League of Legends is a team game, with the 3v3 or 5v5 formats being the most popular.
While you can use the solo-queue or duo-queue options to play with strangers, Once you start playing League of Legends, you're going to want to join a team or even build one yourself. A team of friends who communicate well and understand each other's styles will perform much better than a team of strangers.
And here's the sneaky bit: Once you start playing with friends, you're going to start receiving messages and invitations from your friends to play more. You don't want to miss out, right?
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3. The glamor, the fortune, the fame – millions of dollars in championship prizes (and it's great to watch as well!)
Because League of Legends is also extremely exciting to watch, it has developed a very competitive gaming scene, paired with prize pools numbering to the millions.
Competitive teams from Korea, China, Europe and America have developed cult followings and are sponsored by huge companies, and they play in stadiums packed with thousands of fans - some people describe them to be the rockstars of the gaming world. The huge viewer rates also drive up sponsorship.
Apart from the larger competitions like Worlds, there are also many smaller, regional competitions for casual and semi-pro players to try their hands with.
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4. Video streaming and in-depth discussions about tactics, strategies and competitions creates powerful LoL communities.
League of Legends has a huge community. Pro players stream their games and have large followings, and even some casual gamers have popular streams where they try new tactics or just have a fun time online.
Some players get into the community from just watching streams at first, and then later trying out the game - the perfect example of word-of-mouth advertising for the game.
There are also forums and reddit subthreads where players discuss the latest metagame, the newest patches and so on. Many coaches or commentators even have their own popular podcasts about League of Legends as well.
The sense of community binds the fans together and incentivises them to keep up to date with the latest news in League of Legends, creating a very powerful sense of belonging and loyalty to the game.
5. Patch, Create, Adapt - always keeping the game exciting for players
Riot, the developer of the game, has kept to task in terms of keeping the game adaptive and interesting. Every major patch has led to huge changes in the metagame, which changes the gameplay heavily and forces its players to adapt their strategies, keeping it exciting and fresh.
They also often create new champions, which can also change the dynamics of the game and appeal to different skill sets. This allows players to always try and experiment new tactics after every change.
6. "It's so different from DOTA2/HoN/*insert-MOBA-here*!"
Even if the gameplay looks very similar to DOTA 2 and other MOBAs (multiplayer online battle arenas), the mechanics that League of Legends require, along with the different types of champions, maps and many other factors make it an extremely unique game.
From the graphics, to even things like the champion’s personalities, League of Legend has created an entirely new narrative within e-sports and has successfully differentiated itself from it’s huge competitors.
Many League of Legend players started from other MOBAs, but were drawn to League of Legends either because of the fun gameplay, the graphics or, most commonly, the fact that their friends were playing the game and needed an extra team-member.
RECAP: What have we learnt from League of Legends?
- Competitive ranking system gives people something to work towards
- Game's team dynamics encourages players to recruit friends
- Spectatorship and a sustainable pro-league keeps viewers engaged
- Strong communities and a large flow of information within the community
- Constant adaptation to keep the game interesting
- Unique characteristics that differentiates it from other games in the same genre