Once again, League of Legends shows up on my radar for one reason or another and I feel compelled to talk about it. In this case, the article that spurned me on was "Don't monetize like League of Legends, consultant says." This piece stirred up a lot of discussion around the net, which shouldn't really be a surprise. A man who makes a living improving a game company's money per player ratio thinks folks should charge more for their content. He is right, League of Legends gets away with a lot because they have such an enormous user base, but he is still preaching the wrong lessons. For a thorough take down of his argument, I leave you with Ben Kuchera who wrote an excellent Polygon retort:
"Counting heads purely as conversions into paid customers is a great way to show how little you understand about creating long-term, sustainable value in your games, a trait that in which Riot, along with Valve, has excelled."
In other news, the League of Legends regionals, the tournaments that lead up to the world championship, have already begun. The issue of balance in games is a particularly interesting one in light such a large eSports spectacle. For your uninitiated viewer, relative champion balance isn't even on their mind. They are not familiar enough with each player's kit to know. Those deeply familiar with the game know the professional teams enough to understand how they play around the shifting sands of game balance. It's the swath in the middle that matter in this regard. If they sense that some characters have an unfair advantage, does it undermine their perceived legitimacy of the tournament?
It's an interesting question because real world athletics have no concept of balance, at least not one integrated into the sport on a day to day basis. In the world of sports, balance is more about fairness, and fairness is only questioned when one side is considered cheating. Recruiting underage women to compete in gymnastics or steroid use, for example, could create an "unbalanced" competitive event, in which case the entire event's credibility is called into question. If we really believe in the concept of balance in videogames, shouldn't eSports fairness be a more important issue?