In the past few weeks I’ve seen more players calling out our usage of “oh but the boards are a minority” as bullshit when we’re talking about why we might not immediately jump on a problem that the boards/reddit is talking about. The sentiment from you folks is justified, because other than saying “oh but you guys are a minority”, we’ve never really presented you with much/any evidence to back up our claim. That’s not really fair to you guys, and I want to take this post as an opportunity to outline what we mean when we say that the boards/reddit are a minority of our players base. At the same time I want to stress that while we don’t always respond immediately to a problem that’s being talked about on the boards/reddit, it usually serves as a flag that we should potentially investigate something, even if the end result is that no action needs to be taken.
A very recent example I want to use is the top lane conversations we’re seeing a lot on Reddit and the boards in NA, and want to dig into that briefly through the lens of looking at the game from a global perspective. At the end of the day League of Legends is a game that serves as a competitive outlet for millions of players around the world on a daily basis, and being hypersensitive to the issues raised by players in one region can cause us to completely ignore the reality in another. Disclaimer: This post is NOT intended to prove/disprove anything regarding top lane, my only intended purpose is to highlight regional differences and how that can impact the way we iterate and change the game.
In English speaking dominant regions, we’re seeing a lot of discussion around the state of top lane in regards to lane specific champion power, items, agency over outcome of the game, lack of specific keystones, which all boils down to a belief that top is a far less desirable position to play than in the past. When these conversations come up, we definitely talk about them, and we try and figure out if they actually are problems. Whether that be comparing the problem across regions, whether it’s an issue only in high level play, only for specific classes etc etc, before we jump into definitive action. Unfortunately this means that some problems may take longer to find resolution than others, or their priority isn’t as high as some would like compared to other things we’re trying to solve. To highlight the regional comparison, I took data from a few (not all) of our regions to illustrate how position preferences can vary depending on what region you’re in - you can see it in the charts below.
(Top is the red line; "utility" is support)
Comparing North America, Vietnam, and Korea there’s a few immediate trends that you can see.
1. At all MMR in every specific region as well as all regions, top lane is in the top 3 for preferred queued role, even sitting at #1 by a decent margin in Vietnam
2. At high MMR (1800+) top lane preference goes from 3rd to last in NA, 1st to 4th in Vietnam, 2nd to hovering between 3rd/4th/5th in KR, and 2nd to 4th in all Regions.
3. At high MMR the delta between least popular and most popular position generally shrinks pretty substantially
4. Jungle, Support, and Top tend to cross either frequently in regards to position preference at high MMR.
5. Despite efforts over the past season, support is still by far the least preferred role in Vietnam by a very wide margin.
Quick tangent on the support line (purple)! Our graphs unfortunately only go back ~6 months, but utility used to be FAR lower across the board, at all MMR, in all Regions.This is what prompted us to pour a significant amount of development time into making the role more desirable and have a greater impact on the outcome of a game beyond just controlling vision for their team. It's undoubtedly had some knock on effects on other positions as more of a teams power was concentrated into bot lane, but we’re in a far more sustainable world now than we were a year and a half ago.
I digress though - the point I want to illustrate is that we see differences in player preferences and behaviors across world which have impacts on things like position preferences, game length/pacing, meta, popular champions etc. When we make changes to League we're trying to keep all of these in mind (which is hard given that our dev team is primarily English speaking working out of LA). This is why it might not seem like we're jumping on a problem that's identified by players in specific communities, because we're generally trying to account for what's going on in other regions as well lest we accidentally exacerbate a problem somewhere else in the world where a different meta is dominant.This doesn’t mean that we don’t have work to do on top lane, the high MMR graphs does suggest that it becomes a less desirable role for likely a wide variety of reasons (which is in progress), but again, I hope it illustrates why it’s not as easy to just jump on one problem the minute it’s raised in one region.
For another interesting look, this is what the distribution looks like across all regions, when filtering down to only include games from roughly ~Gold 3 down to 0 MMR.
When you zoom out and look at the big picture, a problem for a specific subset of players doesn’t necessarily translate to the entire player base which can make solving those problems more complex. We are a game that serves millions of players around the world, all with different motivations, and we’re always trying to balance and adjust the game with everyone in mind. While, we tend to focus more of our changes around high level play due to the nature of players getting better at League and the never ending path to mastery, we still need to think about players at all levels because every player is important to help cement League as a game that will last for generations. We're not perfect at this, but we're always attempting to walk the fine line of balancing the game for pro play, for our heavily engaged ranked players, and for normal players. It’s also worth noting that these regional differences also influence the type of work we do in regards to champion VGUs, Gameplay updates, skins, and all manner of decisions that we make every single day.
This is glossing over a pretty large topic, but I hope that it helps to illustrate what we mean when we say that various communities are oftentimes a minority and don’t necessarily represent the player base as a whole. It’s never intended as a dismissive remark, but rather an acknowledgement of the costs that comes with operating a game played around the world. If you guys would be interested in me going deeper into this or another topic let me know in the comments below!
I won't be able to answer every question you guys have, but will try to respond to questions in the comments as I have the time over the coming days.