Wildstar developers on emulating League of Legends success: “It’s so hard to do”

Wildstar

By on July 29, 2013 at 7:00 pm

The people behind upcoming (and very cool-looking) MMO Wildstar have used an interview with PCGamesN to discuss that burning question: Why aren’t more people simply copying League of Legends very successful model?

The answer, it seems, is because it’s just really, really hard to emulate.

“Their entire company is built around how frequently they can get these updates out and users respond really well to it,” said executive producer Jeremy Gaffney. “It’s retention in the sense that if you’re getting bored and there’s a cool new thing coming out, maybe it’s a little OP, you’re like ‘Ooh, I want to try that out!’ and you’re there for another three weeks.”

“I don’t think anybody has been anybody to duplicate that because it’s so hard to do those updates so quickly.”

Gaffney explained that Valve “would be wise to learn from what League of Legends has been doing”.

“I’ve heard numbers which are a billion dollars plus from League of Legends, which for free-to-play is impressive, and I think that’s because their business model makes so much sense for their game.”

Source: PCGamesN

17 comments (Leave your own)

One of the key hang ups I find DotA players have is how often content comes out for League of Legends. My friends use this argument a lot, and I even saw it recently pop up on an article (possibly the League of Legends in the 2016 Olympic one). It would be interesting to see if they maintain the same view if the model was ever applied to their precious DotA2.

Also, I’m not sure if many players actually realise that all the Heroes (and those to come) in DotA2 are from the original, and they haven’t actually had a ‘completely’ new hero concept that has been exclusive to DotA2 just yet (This may have changed, haven’t touched the game in awhile, but the argument has been around forever).

That aside, I find the fact that you work to unlock the champions, instead of just being given all of them, adds a level of replayability in itself, as you aren’t simply just playing a game, but working towards something. I know many people argue against this, so it might just be me that thinks this way. Either way, time and time again it is shown that what they are doing is working out incredibly well for them.

 

“I don’t think anybody has been anybody to duplicate that because it’s so hard to do those updates so quickly.”

Guild Wars 2 is doing that. New content updates every 2 weeks. They do it by rotating 4 teams. Each team works on their content for three months and then releases it during the fourth in 2 separate packages, one at the start of the month and one in the middle.

 
GeneralHerpes.

helelix,

GW2 is awful, lol…

 

generalherpes,

I happily disagree with you.

 

The metagame in LOL is extremely stale (same 5 man lineup every ranked match, bruiser top, AP mid, ADC bot, Support bot, Jungler) which is surprising given the level of “change” that LOL experiences (frequent content updates).

While DOTA2 meta is completely fluid and changes month to month even though major patches are once every 5 months. You can go into a high rated pub match and find anything from 2-1-2, to 3-1-1, 2-2-1, 1-1-1 with two roamer, to 4-1-0 (yes totally abandoning one lane)… about half the matches you’ll have a jungler, half you won’t. You can have a tri-core lineup with 3 carries, all the way down to a pushing or ganking lineup with zero carries. All these lineups are seen in competitive play and pub matches. DOTA2 doesn’t need frequent content patches because the basic gameplay is already there and the playstyles and strategies are free to evolve and change within the framework already provided, there are a wealth of different strategies for players and teams to pursue.

LOL is still searching for the holy grail of game balance which can give rise to dynamic and chaotic system of strategies and counter strategies, instead of the same 5 roles every match. I’ve played hundeds of games of league of legends and the “strategy” they have in the game is maybe 10% of what DOTA2 has even just on the hero / champion selection phase alone. Yes competitive teams might try out something new once in a awhile, but good luck doing that in pubs…

TLDR, LOL has frequent patches because their basic game design isn’t done yet, and the only way to keep the game interesting is to continually patch it, change for the sake of change. DOTA could have been kept in its original 5.84 form 8 years ago and it would still be played nowadays because it’s well balanced enough to allow multiple strategies and lineups. Heroes can go from underpowered and never picked one year to overpowered in the next year, just due to meta changes, without being touched.

Of course, LOL being a simpler game (see how much simpler their laning is), attracts a wider playerbase who are able to actually understand how to play it. But I’m just not seeing how more frequent updates would help either DOTA1 or DOTA2, as the article seems to imply. The community, teams and trends create the game and keep the interest in it going: hero popularity waxes and wanes on its own as different strategies are discovered.

 

aetherfox,

I believe by ‘help DotA2′, they implied financially, although the systems in place are completely different. DotA2 you get all the heroes and in League you get 10 champions a week, plus whatever you buy (Cash or earned currency). Then you have your ‘gear pieces’ in DotA2 (cash or earned randomly), and skins in League which are soley to purchase with cash.

From a consumer perspective, DotA2 is the better option as you get ‘the full product’ off the bat, and customization can be obtained simply through playing. From a business, financial perspective, League is superior. This isn’t to say that DotA2 doesn’t have ways of cashing in on their player base, simply they can’t emulate the exact thing League is doing because their systems are already so different. Could you imagine the uproar if they changed the system now? Heroes of Newerth also went from a bought product with full access to free to play with 10 heroes a week. On top of that they started charging for new heroes that legacy players (spent $40 for the original game) also had to buy with more cash .

This article wasn’t about which game was better in any single way, it was talking about a model that has netted a company some significant cash, and keeps them interested. Me personally, after playing roughly a thousand hours in DotA2, League AND Heroes of Newerth (~3000 total), I simply find League more fun. I’m not going to debate why, because I’ve spent countless hours debating it with my DotA2 fanboy friends and have come to the conclusion that you simply cannot get a reasonable discussion from it, because everyone will fall to their ‘preferred’ game and fault the other on every little detail they can. I mean, even you have made DotA to be something far more complex than it is, and insinuated that it takes a ‘superior’ player to be able to play the game.

The above also comes from players that started in LoL, tried DotA2 and came back, started with DotA and tried LoL, going back to DotA/2 and those moving from one game to stick with the other. Also, MMOs have the holy trinity; should we get on their back and tell them to shakes things up because its stale? What was the peak player count for Guild Wars 2 vs World of Warcraft? If a system works, why fix it? (This isn’t to say that DotA2′s flexibility is a bad thing)

 

jjager,

You’re right, there’s no real point debating which game is “better”, but all I was trying to do was offer up some facts about the flexibility and diversity in DOTA2 that keeps the game interesting for years without the need for frequent updates, as mentioned in the article.

The simplicity of the lane composition in LOL isn’t necessarily a bad thing. I mean, when I play DOTA2 with my 20 friends, maybe only 2 of us playing in the top 10% skill bracket really “get” how to pick heroes, counterpick enemies, choose appropriate laning setups, and actually have the mastery of at least 50% of the hero pool to utilize that knowledge.

While when I play LOL with my 20 friends, virtually EVERYONE understands how to play Summoner’s Rift properly – they know what champions are good in top or bot or mid, and exactly how to play them and execute their role. This is a huge huge plus for LOL, I find, and is a major reason why DOTA2 will never overtake LOL.

I’m not so sure about the business perspective being better for LOL either. Blue Ethereal Flame Frogs always sell for over $700 whenever they’ve become available on the market, so there’s definitely people who are willing to spend the cash as well in DOTA2, I just think neither company wants to reveal exactly how much they’re making. Bragging to players about just how much profit you’re making off them isn’t exactly a good thing, right =P

And theoretically, I have a feeling DOTA2 doesn’t have to earn a single cent on its own – remember Valve’s main business is selling games through Steam – if they convert 10 million to 20 millon people to play DOTA2, they get spammed with Steam discounted games advertisements every time they log in Steam…. and nearly everyone I know has bought some random cheap games through the summer sale, etc.

 

Guys I’m actually genuinely impressed with the level of MOBA discussion here. If this were any other site you’d be questioning each other’s sexuality by now. <3

 

Tim Colwill:
Guys I’m actually genuinely impressed with the level of MOBA discussion here. If this were any other site you’d be questioning each other’s sexuality by now. <3

sounds like sometin’ one o’ dem feggits would say! Ma git the shotgun !

hill billy humor aside, I agree this is a really interesting discussion that’s taking place here.

 

Give it time. ;)

 

spooler,

If you want a bit more of it I’m in the middle of writing a series on game design differences between DOTA2 and LOL which isn’t anwhere done yet (and I’ve got to rewrite and resummarize many posts), but the gist of it is that LOL’s gameplay is “designed” top down by a team of excellent game designers, including some of the original talent from Blizzard’s WoW team, while DOTA’s gameplay is “evolved” bottoms up based on player feedback. Both methods of game design sound like the religious debate of Intelligent Design vs Evolution, haha, but it’s led to vastly different games and I thought it was a fascinating enough subject to spend a fair few hours thinking and writing about.

http://aetherfoxx.blogspot.com.au/search/label/Design%20is%20an%20Optimization

 

aetherfox: the religious debate of Intelligent Design vs Evolution

one’s science and the other is pseudo science pretending it’s real science to try and brain wash stupid people ?

Interesting blog posts you got here will continue to read them between lectures, cheers !

 

aetherfox:
jjager,
And theoretically, I have a feeling DOTA2 doesn’t have to earn a single cent on its own – remember Valve’s main business is selling games through Steam – if they convert 10 million to 20 millon people to play DOTA2, they get spammed with Steam discounted games advertisements every time they log in Steam…. and nearly everyone I know has bought some random cheap games through the summer sale, etc.

Yes I think this is one of the main, if not THE reason that DotA2 as a F2P title will survive so long without players actually needing to invest any money, which I have no doubt they do anyway. In fact, I had a friend buy 5 of the 9 gear sets from the Polycount competition awhile back. I also speculate that this is another key reason DotA2 has larger prize pools than League of Legends. That and the fact that they have the tournament pass thingos that also put some (all?) of that money towards the prize pool. The purchase of these passes are of course reinforced with the chance to get tournament exclusive loot, so it is really win win for everyone involved. This was a point I wanted to raise earlier, but I think between my posts on the R18 threads of late, and other various articles, I may be getting notorious for incredibly long (not necessarily bad) posts. :P

I’ve also heard about the Unusual Baby Roshans selling for $2,000 (going up $100 /month), which is unbelievable. I even had a Dragonclaw Hook that I let a friend use as I never played Pudge, and he proceeded to get hacked. I later found out while selling cards during the summer sale that the thing was worth $100!

The only problem I see with big ticket items is that they don’t put money back into valve/DotA2/steam. I’m pretty sure I read the most you can have in your steam wallet is $200, so you’d either be short changing yourself a lot, or using alternative means to facilitate the trade and circumvent steam and them getting their ‘cut’. Alternatively, any champions or heroes purchased with cash is money sent directly to Riot. In fact, they take your money before you even get that new champion or fancy skin.

I also agree with you that they probably won’t go releasing any figures any time soon, but one can only assume that in both cases they are doing ‘well enough’ to keep the game going and servers running; hell, they even have the over inflated (by comparison) servers for Australia/Oceania. :)

 

jjager:The only problem I see with big ticket items is that they don’t put money back into valve/DotA2/steam. I’m pretty sure I read the most you can have in your steam wallet is $200, so you’d either be short changing yourself a lot, or using alternative means to facilitate the trade and circumvent steam and them getting their ‘cut’.

It’s not so much the Steam wallet max (which is $2000) it’s more the max per single trade ($250). Many items trade above $250, and this is where Valve used what they learned from TF2 – they sell “keys” which open “chests”, and then allow those keys to become a de-facto in game currency without a cap.

So, for example, an item worth $700, would not be tradeable in the Steam Community Market (with a cap of $250) and instead players would do a private trade of 300 keys for the item arranged on the forums. True, Valve doesn’t get a cut of the transaction… but instead of the 15% cut that they would have got, they actually get 100% of it (since someone at some point had to buy 300 keys from Valve in the first place). I would say Valve potentially makes more profit on big ticket items transacted outside the Steam Marketplace!

The resaleability of cosmetics is also a big influencer for people to buy items in DOTA2 – I would never have bought some of the items I did, if I knew I could never resell them once I quit the game or got bored. You never see the cash you spend in LOL ever again: the unusual courier I bought in DOTA2 for $20 however, could next year be sold and the $20 (assuming the price holds steady) be spent on the 2014 summer sale… though I’m betting on it eventually becoming an Immortal item and having the price go up slightly.

 

aetherfox,

Ah I didn’t take into account the key trading, although I’d personally prefer that kind of cash else where instead of tied to a steam account, but I might just be wierd like that. :P I do see your point though, and in the case that that is indeed how most trades are being done, Valve are definitely winning out.

At a rough estimate I’ve invested ~$100 into my LoL account, which isn’t all that bad for a game that is ‘free’. Thirty dollars of that was invested right before I stopped playing for six months, but the one good thing about LoL, and no doubt DotA2, is that there will always be a community to come back to, including friends. Thus to me, investing in said games isn’t as big a deal as investing in something like Awesomenauts (which isn’t a bad game, and ‘skins’ are actually cheap), which now has a very small local, if any, player base.

In regards to investing in games, there are definitely games I’ve invested in, whether on initial purchase (big or small), or something like a ‘lifetime subscription’ for DC Universe Online (/facepalm) that I have ‘regretted’, or had second thoughts about, far more than any money I have sunk into DotA2/LoL. I guess that is the benefit of a genre that is still relatively small, and due to this fact was able to pick up a lot of followers/players early, and retain them.

I’ll be interested to see how some of the other, upcoming ‘MOBAs’ fair against these two proverbial giants of the genre. I know for a fact that I’d be more hesitant to invest in one of them for this reason alone. It would be worse than investing in an MMO for 2 years (or longer) to have the company shut it down (CoH/V).

 

I’m a little worried about Valve’s Dota 2 model because, in my experience at least, it’s incredibly bad at getting people to spend money. I have 881 hours played on Dota 2 in steam and haven’t spent one cent on it yet. Further more I couldn’t care less what any of my stuff looks like in game so I have no reason now or in the future to ever spend a cent.

Compare this with War Thunder which as I understand has a similar system to LoL (haven’t really played LoL so best I could do), I spent $60 on it to unlock a small portion of the game after only playing a week and was happy to do it. My point is i’d be happy to spend money on Dota 2 but it’s not justifiable for me if it’s for cosmetic items.

 

andywho: Dota 2 in steam and haven’t spent one cent on it yet.

I know someone that has spent over $100 on keys for chests.
It’s super effective lol, look at team fortresses hats I too rarely buy cosmetics but even I went and bought a new HUD skin in dota.

 
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