OCT. 12, 2012 • League of Legends has become the poster child for successful free-to-play games. According to Riot Games, the League of Legends MAU has reached 32 million active users a month, based on a total of 70 million registered accounts. Further, the game is attracting 12 million players a day, with an average of 3 million people competing against each other concurrently any hour of the day, with 1 billion-plus game hours played each month worldwide. League of Legend’s demographic is 90% male, with 85% of players between the ages of 16 and 30, and 60% who say they are enrolled in college or have completed some college. Based on these statistics, Riot claims League of Legends is the most game in the world.
Impact: In the North America and Europe, League of Legends has attracted a sizable audience on its own as shown in the DFC PC Game Meter report. In the DFC Intelligence report on English language F2P games it was noted that League of Legends was the biggest product in Western markets. However, now the game is a massive global success. Outside Western markets, the game has grown tremendously since its release in China through Tencent’s acquisition of Riot Games in 2011. League of Legends takes great inspiration from the gameplay mechanics and art design of Blizzard’s Warcraft 3 real-time strategy game, as well the Blizzard’s Starcraft RTS based Defense-of-the-Ancients modification that is considered the genesis of the multiplayer online battle arena (MOBA) genre. Blizzard has been hugely successful in Asia for years led by Starcraft in Korea and World of Warcraft in China. Meanwhile, competitive multiplayer is now the strongest, most attractive gameplay feature for online games in China, whether through indirect competition on in-game metric leaderboards, or in direct player-vs-player game modes. Combining Blizzard-inspired gameplay and art design with engaging multiplayer action, backed by Tencent’s massive pre-existing user base, was clearly the recipe for League of Legend’s massive success that we think will be relatively difficult to replicate. It is possible Activision’s upcoming Call of Duty Online, also being delivered to China via Tencent, could have similar market potential. Otherwise, League of Legends is arguably the world’s largest, most successful F2P game attracting core gamers.