League of Legends doesn’t try hard enough to take your money

2 min read


If you’re in the business of playing a MOBA there’s a pretty good chance you’re playing League of Legends. The free-to-play online title which launched before Dota 2 still has a respectable fan base, but one Ubisoft analyst says other studios shouldn’t learn how to make money from Riot Games.

That’s because Teut Weidemann doesn’t believe that Riot try hard enough to make a profit from their game. Weidemann gave a talk at GDC Europe, which took place yesterday. In his speech, Weidemann addressed League of Legends’ monetization scheme and explained that it only works because they have millions and millions of players.

Taking player numbers between 2009 and 2013, Weidemann managed to calculate that League of Legends has a conversion rate of only 3.75%. In other words, only 3.75% of the entire player base actually pays to play, which is extremely low in comparison to other free-to-play titles. World of Tanks for example, sits at around 30%.

What reason could Riot possibly have for such a low conversion rate? According to Weidemann, they simply don’t care.

Riot doesn’t care. Optimizing monetization is not the top priority. They monetize purely through their reach. So it only works because of the large user base, and if you don’t have that user base or don’t expect to, you should not adopt their monetization. It should not be a role model for your monetization system.

It’s important to note that Weidemann approached this from a completely business orientated view. He’s not saying League of Legends is a failure, but rather that the game isn’t focused on making a profit. That’s probably why League of Legends has the fan base that it does, with monetization not really getting in the way of people actually playing.

It’s an interesting perspective, since one industry veteran is advising studios not to adopt a model that is preferred by players. Maybe Riot’s success stems from the fact that profits aren’t their top priority?

Last Updated: August 12, 2014

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