The Average Gamer

GDC Europe 2014: Too Old To Succeed In League of Legends

GDC Europe League of Legends talkUnless you are under 30 you’re already too old to succeed at League of Legends (LoL) according to Teut Weidmann, speaking yesterday at GDC Europe.

Weidemann, an online monetisation consultant at Ubisoft Blue Byte, analysed Riot Games’ massively successfully free-to-play MOBA game. Responding to a question about difficulty and winning from the audience he asked how old the person was. Upon hearing the answer “nearly thirty”, Wiedeman quipped “Ok, a little late, sorry.”

Using publicly available data from sites like Alexa and Comscore along with Riot’s own press releases and financial statements, Weidemann showed that LoL has 27 million daily active players, 67 million players a month, >90% are male with 85% of players aged 16-30yrs.

League of Legends is a 5 vs 5 team MOBA in which you choose a character, known as a champion, and fight against other teams. Each champion has a unique set of skills with advantages and disadvantages against other champions. However, Weidemann went on to say that “most players who enter the game will be totally overwhelmed learning all of the champions in order to be successful. If you cannot learn all of the champions, if you lose all the time, you will quit the game. Unless, you have the patience to learn all these complexities, tactics and rewards we have.” There are over a hundred champions currently available in the game.

He added “Interestingly, if you have a really complex game system like League of Legends this is very attractive to young, male computer game players.”

He also concluded that Riot doesn’t make enough money from its audience.

Even though Riot made $624 million from LoL in 2013, its average revenue per user (ARPU) of $1.32 is extremely poor when compared to the free-to-play MMO market. For comparison he mentioned the $4.51 ARPU that Wargaming makes from their much smaller World of Tanks player base. For him, LoL is only successful due to its huge reach, fuelled by its massive eSports, YouTube and Twitch viewing figures.

Weidemann told developers not to adapt LoL’s monetisation system, unless you have similar reach. He also suggested that Riot could afford to lose something like 60% of its player base and still double its current profits by giving away less in game for free and changing the game so champions have a expiry date or having champions that can only be bought rather than earned in-game.

League of Legends is available now and free-to-play on Windows PC.

One Comment

  1. Peter Grabowski

    14th Aug, 2014 at 2:00 pm

    Good article but I dislike the amount of analysis that is going on around Riot’s business model (not just in this quote but in general):

    “LoL is only successful due to its huge reach, fuelled by its massive eSports, YouTube and Twitch viewing figures.”

    “…is ONLY successful….” because gaining a huge reach, building on legitimising eSports and massive viewing figures are all really easy things to attain!?

    This is now the fifth different quote criticising Riot on their ARPU figures.

    “…Riot could afford to lose something like 60%…” I’m sure Mr. Weidmann is far better informed, educated and better looking than me but this statement could only come from the mouth of someone who is really confused