TL;DR AT THE BOTTOM.
In recent times you can stumble upon multiple complains about League becoming more and more of a gacha mobile game as it keeps committing to decisions that are… questionable at best.
These complains become louder as time moves on. While thinking about it I had a reflection “hey I played way too many gacha games in my 20something years lifetime and spent money on several titles”. I decided to create a thought experiment – What if I was to judge League of Legends and its mechanics the way I judge regular gacha games?
Some may question my sanity for spending money on gacha games, so I’ll quickly explain why and when I do. Short answer, my spending is response to liking things game is doing atm with its story, characters, mechanics, or if I particularly like certain decisions by the devs about further development,
or buying pretty jpeg dress for my waifu. I have applied this philosophy to pretty much every game I played. For example in League I liked Odyssey, so I bought 20 orbs to show that content sells, I liked Nexus Blitz, so I bought event pass to show that content sells, etc.
Coming back to the topic:
Looking at the League as gacha game… oh boy – it’s bad. League is terrible at being gacha game and not in a positive way. From the get-go I have ran into multiple problems, which now I am going to explain.
Problem no. 1 – increasing prices.
You may be surprised to see this as the very first I’ll talk about. However, it is important to talk about it first. Increasing prices is big no-no in gacha territory, especially when talking about successful games. If prices in successful game are changed it’s either a drop OR the amount of “bonus” currency you get for bigger purchases is increased permanently. What you want is to show your payers that their purchases brought better quality of life and make them feel rewarded. Perfect scenario is creating thoughts which go like “well, game may still be expensive, but at least now I get the same value for 5% less!”. Price increase has entirely opposite effect to what you would want to achieve, you are making your payers question trust they have for your product. You are hurting budget players and making f2p players less willing to maybe try giving you money while trying to milk whales.
Problem no. 2 – Lack of drop rates and drop tables of chests in client.
While Riot disclosed their drop rates 1,5 years ago, which is bloody long time after releasing them, but better late than never. You could think “cool, what’s wrong?” There is one glaring issue with drop rates and drop tables I don’t see brought around often – you can’t check them in client. Let me rephrase, you can’t check qualities of a product in the place you are buying this product. You have to go to support site to take a look which is extremely shady move (and even then you can accidently skip over special rules like I almost did). Even in case of orbs, which show some of their content in a client, all you know is “there is a chance”. This is a bad move below modern standards and wouldn’t pass in gacha game (mostly due to most gachas being of eastern origin and certain regulations in place there).
Problem no. 2.5 – Oh, there is also one little issue. There is nothing indicating that special rules apply to Event Orbs. All these rules are talking about hextech/masterwork chests, no orbs. Which means that rule “Equal Odds” (saying that there is the same chance of rolling every rarity) MAY NOT (and propably doesn’t) apply. This is pretty scammy if actually correct.
Problem no. 3 – Lack of meaningful pity timer/exchange/similar mechanics.
Gacha games often have mechanic in place which makes sure that after certain amount of rolls without high rarity drop you are more likely to roll high rarity drop (example, Fire Emblem Heroes), so called pity timer. You may also have different approach. For every roll you can give currency, which can be used in exchange which either lets you buy whatever you want from “base set” (example, soon to come out Pokemon Masters), or has a rotating exchange in which you can trade (example, Azur Lane). There are also other approaches (if I remember correctly Dokkan Battle had a special all SSRs banner in which special currency was used, this currency was rewarded to everyone depending how many rolls they did on their account). Either way, your goal here is giving payers the sense that “if I spend just a little more I may get it” or “oh hey, I am getting something back for spending” while also minimizing mental damage due to not rolling thing you wanted.
Let me start by saying that “Bonus Gemstones” rule (which guarantees gemstone at least once every 50 chests) is pretty much the only pity timer in this game. Calling “Bad Luck Protection” a pity timer doesn’t feel fair. It’s not a pity timer, it just guarantees that 1 in 3 times you will earn reason why you bought the chest from the chest (if there are people who buy chests for emotes or icons, you are free to correct me).
While some could argue that Equal Odds rule (if it works for Orbs, for the sake of avoiding chaos, we will assume it does) makes such thing unnecessary – everyone who happened to roll chests in this game will tell you that rewards feel either extremely shallow with some rare jumps of excitement. There is a lack of… participation award?
“But wait!” – you say – “Isn’t orange essence technically participation award?”
Problem no. 4 – Orange essence is worthless without shards.
Orange essence in itself is quite a decent concept actually, because it makes everything you drop from the chest/orb have some value as you can disenchant it and exchange for something. However, there are major issues with implementation. You cannot exchange it for anything, only upgrade shards you already have. On top of that, orange essence isn’t “participation award”, it’s necessity to get anything out of chests in the first place.
Value of orange essence is relative to skin shards you have. You could have million of it and no skin you want to craft, which would make it completely worthless for time being, or a shard for your favourite skin and no orange essence which would make it priceless. This isn’t healthy state of things. So how to fix it? Introducing a weekly rotation of skins craftable for orange essence (without need for shard) would be a good step in the direction of healthy design (so I doubt it will happen).
Either way, orange essence seriously fails the entire “participation award” part, hard.
Problem no. 5 – Most events are just weekly/monthly missions.
Events in gacha games can be exciting time. New characters to roll, stages to fight through, new enemies, bosses and so on. Obviously, the difference in genre is a thing, but events in gacha games also do things which could pretty much be part of events in every other game – pushing story ahead, expanding lore, giving characters development, putting characters in spotlight and giving us some funny banter.
Now, Riot has proven that it also can do it and it has endless possibilities. Odyssey was (for me) hands down best event in the game. Riot has multitude of skinlines with their own lore and history. It has endless possibilities for events that give us things mentioned above without touching the chaotic ever changing status (whatever-devs-are-thinking-at-the-moment) quo we call lore. It was proven it can be done and haven’t been done since. This is a huge shame because Riot is sitting on goldmine of scenarios due to mentioned mountain of different skin lines.
Nowadays standard event in League is what would refer to as weekly or monthly mission in your regular gacha game, without anything fresh going on.
Problem no. 5 – Event passes are just glorified premium mode.
Honestly, at this point it feels like monthly subscription more than anything and should be renamed to it. Event pass has exciting sound to it, like you were supposed to go on adventure or something, while in reality it’s just boring bonuses. 12.5 dollars/euro isn’t that bad, if not for the fact that pass alone is not cost-efficient from the get-go. For example, assuming that you’ll only buy the current pass without playing you are losing on 200 RP value. Now, I admit I haven’t seen many iterations of premium type service in gachas, but these things tend to be relatively good value (when compared to other proposed options), which also give more value on top. Just a little bit of corporate greed that will be overlooked by most.
Problem no. 6 – Little Legends are their own beast made out of issues.
This is one of the things that pushed me towards writing this post. 5 bucks for roll is ridiculous. Inability to view freaking rarities on variants in client is plain scam. Not putting drop table in client is shady. No universal lvl up earned through gameplay (which is INDUSTRY STANDARD) is inexcusable. Egg series structure is combining literally everything that is bad about League financial model. I would like to say something nice, like 5% for legendary isn’t bad, but the fact, that you gotta do it 3 times to max out your little legend, pushes it straight into Fate/Grand Order territory of bad rates. This entire situation just makes me angry, so let’s move on.
“But muh high quality model must cost.” Without checking I am sure that rolls are cheaper in Honkai Impact 3 and it’s got similar quality of models last I checked (albeit animations seem less fluid). Correct me if I am wrong.
Problem no. 7 – Eternals are just dumb, even from financial point of view.
At the time I was writing this post, Riot was still determined on making this premium feature. Now, this could have changed before you got to this part, but fact is Riot tried it once, it will probably try again even if it fails. Mark my words, we’ll see faction progression system in the future for 2825 RP.
Okay, but what so wrong about the system from gacha point of view? The fact that you WANT progression systems to be free, because they make payers invested. Invested payer is more likely to spend money. Invested payer who spent money will stay around for longer and spent more money. By locking progression behind paywall you are questioning payers investment, potentially losing part of your payerbase, part of your income and decreasing your future income.
League is terrible at being gacha, it uses many outdated point of views, scamy tactics, and fails to do one extremely important thing people making gacha games understand – it fails in investing. Whoever is in charge can’t seem to grasp that invested payerbase, which is kept happy, is long term much more important than short term profits as it makes sure you’ll have constant influx of new people due to recommendations and people will be more willing to spend money on game that seems more “fair”. There will be a day when it all crashes, because in order to get short term profits right here right now, League disregards investment in state of playerbase. Which in this day and age of gacha games is really stupid, long-term borderline suicidal choice.
This is the end of thought experiment, thanks for coming to my TED talk.
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© Post "Thoughts about League’s latest developments from a guy who spends money on gacha games." for game League of Legends.
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