League of Legends is more than just a game
Stan World is a virtual realm full of virtual resorts. Stars and brands can own and operate resorts, and users have the freedom to experience those platforms, including concerts, malls, and theme parks. Virtual resorts are essentially Stan World’s definition of how media franchises expand through digital platforms.
This is the 6th article of an ongoing series of analyses of stars and brands that went through major changes into the digital age, to achieve greater success: Fanthropology — The Study of Fans and IP’s (Stars and Brands).
Last month marked the 10th anniversary of League of Legends, one of the most well-known names in competitive gaming and esports. Over the years, the game garnered a consistent increase in the number of monthly active users — from 15 million in 2011 to a huge 100 million in 2016. Take a look at how Riot Games keeps maintaining and developing the brand.
Accessibility is King
League’s business model was the key to success in its early days and remains virtually unchanged even today.
Free-to-play: Players don’t have to spend a single dollar to enjoy the game. A common element in many online games, including DOTA 2 and Fortnite.
Microtransactions: Riot Points (RP) can be purchased to unlock additional characters and cosmetic items. Microtransactions have little to no effect on actual gameplay.
Kaisa skin (right)
Low system requirements: Any decent computer will run League.
Accessibility: Arguably the easiest to get into and learn of all MOBA (multiplayer online battle arena) games.
League has an idealistic freemium model in high contrast to many pay-to-win games we see today. Combined with ease of accessibility, the game has been able to alleviate the hassle and cash-grabbing that most gamers are in opposition to.
Play or Watch (or both)
Much of the beauty of competitive gaming lies in viewership. Playing and watching are 2 separate forms of content consumption and a great way for cross-marketing and brand expansion. On top of reaching the milestone of 100 million monthly active users in 2016, League is also one of the most-watched games on streaming platforms like YouTube and Twitch.
On top of that, League is a dominant force in esports. Riot Games hosts regional championships in North America, Europe, China, and South Korea, and to top it off — an annual worldwide championship. The World Championship is the Super Bowl of esports — this year the competition garnered 99.6 million viewers and $2.5 million in prize money.
Consumer Attraction: You Don’t Have to Be a Gamer
The ever-growing popularity of League has allowed for Riot Games’ business expansion into merchandise and other tie-in media — this helps attract consumers, who may not even be gamers. From toys, accessories, and clothing to documentaries and music videos, League is now something much larger than just a game. It’s more of a cultural phenomenon.
True Damage: Virtual Hip-hop Group (Video Owned by Riot Games)
Last month, Riot Games announced a partnership with luxury fashion brand Louis Vuitton. While this form of collaboration is practically unheard of in video games, it makes perfect sense because of the importance of visuals in games. These visuals, in League’s case, are represented in skins and cosmetic items — which are completely optional, so players don’t have to buy it to become a better player. They’ll want to, though.
Qiyana’s Louis Vuitton skin
In the past 10 years, Riot Games continued to develop new ways to expand League as a brand. Recently, the company announced additional games in the League meta-franchise — League of Legends: Wild Rift (mobile, console), and Legends of Runeterra (digital collectible card game).
League of Legends: Wild Rift
League could have stayed as just a popular game of the past, but by experimenting with new ideas to attract consumers, League continues to lead the way in competitive gaming. 10 years at the top, given the ever-shifting nature of the video game industry, is no easy feat.
Evolution through Stan World
There aren’t any boundaries as to how much a brand can grow in the digital universe. Stan World’s concept of brand-operated virtual resorts captures the proven methods of traditional content consumption and generates a new method for brand expansion, in perfect translation from physical to digital. Fans will be able to visit virtual theme parks of their favorite stars and brands. Fans from overseas will be able to experience events like the League of Legends World Championship in the most immersive way. Nothing is impossible in the digital realm.