I went down memory lane one day and saw photos of me and my friends in a gaming convention of League of Legends (LOL). The game which I spent thousands of hours playing but decided to quit since I’m an adult now and have other responsibilities. After almost three years I decided to play once again. 15 minutes in queue and still couldn’t find a match. Seems like the game is dead.
For those unfamiliar, LOL is a multiplayer online battle arena or MOBA, which is commonly played by two teams competing against each other. It is developed by Riot Games and’s also the developer of Valorant, Teamfight Tactics, Legends of Runeterra, and Wild Rift.
What happened to LOL?
Take Over: the rise of Mobile Gaming
According to Statista, smartphones are the most accessible tech device in the country with 98% of all internet users. That makes 74.5 million Filipinos. No wonder games like Mobile Legends: Bang Bang (MLBB), PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds Mobile, and Genshin Impact became very popular that it’s even included in some international sports competitions.
Riot has launched its mobile version of the game but since its competitors already established their name in the country, not every player will shift to them. As of writing this article, MLBB has 500+ million downloads against only 10+ million of LOL: Wild Rift.
GIANTS: skill ceiling problem
Besides accessibility, we can also look into the difficulty of the game. If you start playing LOL today without any background on similar games, I’m sure it will take years to be considered a good player. Looking at MLBB, it’s similar to LOL but played on different platforms. However, MLBB has a faster pace, lesser hours to fully grasp the mechanics, and fewer gaming elements to take into consideration. This is why MLBB seems like a game for all ages and genders, unlike LOL whose most players are young adult males.
As We Fall: COVID-19 pandemic lockdowns
Cybercafes are popular before the pandemic. Ever since 2012, almost every after class I’m in a queue waiting for someone to get off their chair so that I can play. No available seat means not everyone has the luxury to own a computer. Even a hot smelly cafe still has a large crowd.
That’s why when the pandemic lockdown was implemented, the number of players significantly dropped. Even those who still have access had quit since they can’t play with anyone. Even after cybercafes can operate in many areas, old players didn’t return.
Burn It All Down: toxic community
Some people just want to see the world burn. The game requires teamwork in order to win but it feels like you’re on your own. Almost every player will use chats to flame each other instead of giving in-game information to help your team win. Seems like nothing has changed in its community since Riot rarely penalizes its players. That’s why it’s hard for new players to stay in the game and the veterans also make new accounts just to keep the newbies stay in lower ranks.
Legends Never Die: What can Riot do?
Riot Games is still a powerhouse. At the height of the pandemic, their LOL monthly player count dropped from 129+ million to 93+ million but was consistently able to return since mid-2021 to around 128+ million. However, its popularity didn’t return in the Philippines.
The best option for Riot is to merge the country’s server with all other Southeast Asian countries. Communication barrier and ping will be an expected issue, but it will resolve its queue time problem. Knowing its community, Riot should also be strict with its rules to avoid racial conflict.
Another option is engagement with the community. Riot has some favorites like South Korea, China, Europe, and North America where most of the big tournaments and events are held. They can make a large marketing project like what their competitors are doing. Make official merchandise, game events, and advertisement in all media.