Riot to offer free RP to new players, not veterans

Leprechaun Veigar

This past holiday season Riot was kind enough to dish out 450 RP to any summoner who had not been the subject of punitive action over the course of November and December. It was a nice gesture, though the surprise gift didn’t do much to incentivize ongoing good behavior. Riot did mention that the gift was the beginning of a much larger project aimed at rewarding the kind and persistent.

That project starts…at an undisclosed time. Once a summoner reaches level 3, a staggering feat to be sure, he will be gifted 400 RP, just for sticking around. Yes, level 3. No, you don’t get it if you’ve been level 30 for the past two years. Apparently the 450 RP in December was for you…and everyone else over level 6. Honestly, these initiatives confuse the hell out of me and seem to stir up a real shit storm for the folks at Riot. Almost the entire first page of comments on that post fall in line with this sentiment, courtesy of GuardiansAngel:

“How about you start rewarding the guys playing thousands of games of league of legends before you reward the guys who play a few games and quit.”

Those posts have hundreds of upvotes while the actual announcement has less than 100. Now, it could be that the malcontent level 30 summoners are the majority of the players on the forums, but it could just as easily be that the people committed to the game don’t like to see new players get incentives just for being new.

I understand that this is meant to be a gesture, but here’s the thing: gestures are usually thoughtful ways to show appreciation, gratitude, or praise. Key word in there is thoughtful. Riot’s efforts in this regard have been historically careless, and feel much more like a marketing gag to get their hooks into new players than an actual gesture of appreciation. The 450 RP this December was the exception – that was a nice gesture. This, this is just a marketing gag.

I’m also curious, why level 3? Is Riot struggling with new player retention and, if so, is 400 RP at level 3 going to change that? I don’t believe that this is an actual strategy for keeping players around, but then why do it? Level 3 can be accomplished by winning two games – is this really something worth pumping RP into? Maybe the numbers simply worked out that when players are given a certain amount of RP, X percentage of players will double down and buy RP to bridge the gap for a more expensive purchase. If that’s the real reason this RP is going out, well, good for Riot I guess. I’m just so confused by the whole thing that I’d be happy with such a logical conclusion.

Oh Riot, will you never learn?

This isn't working.

You know, I hate to write this post again, but repetition as a method for conditioning behavior is tried and true, and frankly I don’t know what else we can do. I’ve tried to appeal to logic, to cite examples of effective communication strategies, to state again and again that players want information and that the information we want should be readily accessible, but Riot continues to drop the ball and seems to be committed to doing so.

It’s Tuesday. What’s Tuesday? Tuesday is patch day. Don’t give me any of this “we patch when patches are ready,” crap. Nope. Tuesday is patch day. Why? Because the vast majority of patches go out on Tuesday. Because humans are creatures of habit. Because your customer base prefers a consistent update schedule.

Does every patch have to go out on Tuesday? Of course not. As is the case with today’s patch, things come up. However, when things come up, the changes need to be communicated to the user base in a timely fashion. The message should be clear, concise, and easy to find. I found the explanation of the delay by going to CLG’s redtracker–which remains a superior tool to Riot’s own because it threads red responses, but that’s another issue entirely–and finding RiotRara quoting RiotDaemon from another thread, which was also asking for the patch notes. RiotRara also posted the following:

Check out the Service Status forums. I will no longer be posting these kinds of threads in GD because they don’t belong here.

The Service Status forum is a new sub-forum, which on some level I can appreciate. Riot is trying to compartmentalize information to make it more accessible. Unfortunately, the effort is sort of half-assed. There is no indication on the home page that this kind of information is available or where it might be available. As far as posts “belonging” anywhere, General Discussion is the most used sub-forum Riot has. That probably won’t change any time soon. I found the post directing me to Service Status in General Discussion. Without that post, I wouldn’t know where to get the information. What was wrong with the old banner system? Granted, I don’t think that was perfect, but it was certainly better than a random post in one of the likely thousands of posts asking for information about the patch.

Like I said, I’m tired of talking about this, which is really to say I’m tired of it being an issue. Players shouldn’t have to hunt for this kind of information.

Riot Kills Mac Client, My Remaining Faith in Their Customer Service [RANT]

Note: This is the rant version of a post on communication I wrote earlier today. This is centered on Riot’s Mac Client shutdown. It is long. If you’d rather read suggestions for solving the problem, here’s the link to my earlier post.

I’ve been trying to give Riot the benefit of the doubt over the past 6 months. I got a bit cynical for a while there, but the bottom line was that I was enjoying their game, a game that experienced such explosive growth that very few companies could possibly have maintained, and if I wanted to play with new friends they could jump in the game for free. All of that is great stuff.

There were a few bumps along the way – we were promised things we never got. We were promised reparations for some customer services snafus and never got them. We’ve been promised new features for more than a year and they still aren’t here. But today a friend of mine sent me a thread that trumped it all and effectively killed any remaining faith I had in Riot as “the most player-focused game company in the world.” As of this past Tuesday, Riot officially killed the League of Legends Mac client.

I’m not here to bitch about the disintegration of the Mac client. It had been unsupported for months, and though it ran, some fairly serious problems would pop up from time to time for many of the users. I understand that maybe it was just more work than it could ever be worth, or that it just might never get to an acceptable state. I get that. What I don’t get is the method Riot used to communicate the change, the way rewards are being handled, and the message Riot is sending to a portion of its playerbase.

Forums have a couple problems, not the least of which is the amount of data they generate. Important posts get buried and can be incredibly difficult to find again, and that’s only for the forums you actually read. When a platform has been unsupported for months, chances are good that players stopped reading the Mac Client forum. Hell, who says they were even reading it in the first place? I know for a fact my brother didn’t read it, and the Mac client was the only way we were able to play LoL together since his PC died.

Then there’s the timing. The announcement was made on September 2nd. The shutoff date was September 6th. That’s four days. Four days. That has to be a joke. It’s not just that the notice window is so small, it’s also that the consolation prize for Mac testers can only be verified within that window. Here’s a quote from Tamat’s post:

Riot would like to give all active participants in the Mac beta a code that unlocks the Champions Pack, as a token of appreciation for the time they have dedicated to helping us evaluate the Mac client and our sincere apology for not being able to have the testing work out as originally planned. To qualify for the reward, you must have a majority of your logins come from the Mac client, and you must login to the Mac client and click on the Store button between Friday, September 2 and Tuesday, September 6.

So if you aren’t actively reading the Mac Testing forum (which is probably most people) and don’t log in for four days, you get nothing but a giant middle finger to stare at. This might not affect millions of customers. This might not affect even a thousand customers. It will affect some, though, and the message from Riot to those players is loud and clear: We don’t want you. Despite the time you spent testing the stillbirth that was our Mac client, we’re only going to offer a thank you once, and only for four days.

It’s pretty easy to imagine a situation in which players wouldn’t be able to log in for four days, or that they might choose not to. You know, like if they had been planning for the end of a season that was delayed without explanation. If they made the grind to Bronze or Silver or Gold status and then decided to check out other games while they waited for those rewards to come through. Gee, wasn’t that also a holiday weekend? You don’t think anyone may have been traveling or otherwise away from a computer that entire weekend, do you?

Well, we actually don’t know the answer to that because, as far as I can tell, Riot hasn’t been back to that announcement thread since Friday. I say “as far as I can tell” because that thread is now more than 100 pages long, and I’ve only been through about 30 of them. I would use Riot’s DevTracker, but it’s actually more polluted than the thread itself (more on that in today’s earlier post). I would use CL Gaming’s redtracker, but I can’t filter for the Mac Testing forum because, again, no one reads it or posts in it.

So I’m done. I’m done digging through thousands of forum posts for information that should be easy to find. I’m done assuming Riot knows best. Most of all, though, I’m done believing that somewhere Riot has a plan, that when the timing is right they’ll let us in on it, or that they’re actually in touch with their playerbase at all.

Come at me, most player-focused game company in the world. Prove me wrong.

Riot struggles to maintain server stability

For the second time in as many days, Riot had a hard time keeping League of Legends stable. The servers were set to busy sometime this afternoon after recovering from a critical error. Players were none to pleased, as you might imagine. The forums exploded just before servers ground to a halt with posts like “Stability Issues 7/19 – reserving this for Riot” and “Want to know how many times VALVE Servers have crashed?”

I can understand the frustration. Last night’s FG LoL Monday was cut short due to service issues. Two days of problems are somewhat rare for Riot, but certainly still annoying when they happen. When coupled with the extended Leona release window and the downtime around her launch, Riot has a woeful lack of positive buzz around League of Legends. I’m sure the game will bounce back, but it would be very cool for the company to do some things to drive a little positive interest in the League.

This isn’t some “Riot doesn’t do anything” post – just today they’re bringing down the EU servers to split them into two regions to improve stability. It’s a good move, but it’s almost invisible to the player (except for the downside of not being able to play with friends across the EU servers). Riot could do some little things to help keep League of Legends players happy during the lull between Season One and Season Two.

The easiest suggestion would be an IP-boost weekend. Those seemed to happen fairly often in the game’s first year, but I haven’t seen one in a long time. Why not give double IP for a weekend here and there leading up to the Season Two launch? It could easily drive sales for other IP boosts – 4x IP rocks – and encourage people to spend some extra time online over the weekend.

What about a skin giveaway? Hell, they could even tie it in with a livestreamed tournament or event. Just make a reusable code for the store that’s shown on-screen at the end of a tourney stream and make it available for 24 hours after the tourney. People love exclusivity with skins and it would be a great way to drive traffic for a specific tournament. Riot could even use the stream they’ve been promoting during server downtime as a stage for this.

In short, Riot needs to meet the concerns of the player base head on. Show the people crowing about HoN or DotA 2 something that says, ‘hey, we hear your concerns, we know you could be playing other games, thanks for sticking with us.’ I love LoL, but Riot has to do more than say that they’re the most player-focused company in the industry. It’s time show it.

Riot’s take on the E3 info

Riot has graciously stepped onto the E3 news scene with its own explanations of the champions and features in development for League of Legends. Thank god. That Gamespot video just wasn’t cutting it.

The video rehashes a lot of the information I’ve put together on Yorick, Leona, and Skarner, though Paul Bellezza did expand on Skarner’s design direction a bit. In case there was any doubt, it looks like Tanky DPS is here to stay. Bellezza called Yorick a “tanky fighter” who can “pretty much tank down anyone.” Skarner is a “vicious and aggressive fighter tank” (the extent to which that’s different from a tanky fighter is unclear) who allows you to “focus on enemies and the more you attack them, the more you debuff them and are able to take them down.” Wedged in between these two is an archetypal tank with some crowd control abilities. If ever there was a bad time to be a squishy, July and August will surely top it.

I’m hoping that those releases will also come with some itemization/character updates that help deal with Tanky DPS. The idea behind tankier champions is a fine one – longer fights means you get to play the game more – but when it comes at the expense of so many characters and when so much of the playstyle revolves around skills like Jarvan’s passive, the gameplay isn’t very fun. This is the big reason I don’t play Tanky DPS toons – they aren’t enjoyable. It’s fun to get a ranged carry farmed up and burn through enemies. It’s fun to drop Tibbers on a group of opponents and see huge chunks of health fly off. If Riot can find a way to make these longer fights similarly enjoyable, I’ll gladly take the addition of more Tanky DPS champions to the League.

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