I’ve written about League of Legends a few times in the past. I obviously enjoy playing the game even though its userbase is horrible and its creators have a history of making bafflingly bad decisions.
Last Saturday, Riot had some serious problems streaming the videos of their big yearly tournament as well as some electrical issues. Dropped connections in the middle of games. Dead air on their streams for hours straight. Lots of people on the internet griping about it. I know that smoothly running a server of any sort is a constant battle and people are ungrateful when everything works perfectly, but the disconnects could have easily been solved if the game had a LAN option. Keeping most of the information server-side almost entirely prevents piracy and hacking, but surely for their own tournaments they could come up with something more reliable than the ping of ten players, the commentators, and however many streamers were in the hotel lobby or whatever place they were holding it.
So they postponed the quarterfinals until Sunday (when they were planning on having the rest of the matches anyway) and promised to give all players a day of extra IP. A single day of extra in-game currency is a small concession, and plenty for us nerds who are sitting in our chairs watching the stream. It’s better than nothing, which is what most gaming companies would give you in return for their screwups. Riot did give cash refunds the to people who bought tickets to watch in person–and it would be rude to ask for more–but most of these problems could have been easily prevented. If I recall correctly, a few Starcraft II tournaments have been ruined due to the always-online requirement, too. DRM is an annoyance that we probably will never be rid of no matter what it costs the players and the game creators.
In addition to these outages, there are allegations that Team Azubu Frost cheated during one of their matches. However, this cheating manifested itself in the form of one of its members turning his head around to see the giant screen with both teams’ maps on it. There’s a picture making the rounds that’s blurrier than Bigfoot’s wedding photos…
The problems with this are manyfold and most of them are Riot’s fault. If you have a gaming tournament that gives out a total of $2,000,000 in prizes, a game that allegedly has more players than the behemoth World of Warcraft, you’d think that the guys running the event could invest a few thousand in some isolated soundproof rooms for the players so they can’t see game-breaking information or tell when the crowd is cheering or laughing. (They experimented with using three-minute delays in the past, but the ends of matches were often spoiled by the players leaving their computers to celebrate/mourn while the final minutes of their game was still playing.) Or at least go to Wal-Mart and buy a bloody tarp to hang between the players and the huge screen containing the information they’re not supposed to know. I don’t really blame the player in question since Riot didn’t equip the players with horse blinders, but the whole setup is shoddy and not conductive of a professional tournament.
It reminds me of EVO two years ago when the online stream dropped out during the final round of the final match between Daigo Umehara and Ricky Ortiz, and when we got video back we saw Daigo holding the trophy while the crowd was cheering. (Though I don’t believe Capcom was directly in charge of that tournament, whereas Riot is definitely responsible for the League of Legends Season 2 finals.) The fact that mistakes are inevitable does not excuse a single one of those mistakes. I just want exciting content delivered to my home entirely for free with no effort whatsoever required on my part; is that too much to ask? Am I entitled and ungrateful for asking for the trains to run on time and stop directly in front of my house? What was I getting at here?
If I write a shoddy article like this one or this one, I want people to call me out on it (and people did) so I can improve myself, just as I appreciate it when people thank me for my good articles. So I’m telling Riot Games why they’re behaving like morons even though there’s little chance anyone in charge there will read this and no chance whatsoever that they’d care. If us internet tough guys are the only ones willing to tell people they’re wrong, then at least someone is doing it. Even if few take blogs seriously, it’s still better than letting those in power go completely unchallenged.
Riot, please get your act together. You have a fantastic game that has the potential to be much better. I have decent hopes for the improvements you’ve been hinting at for Season 3. Give us more interesting characters (we have enough AP casters, thank you), more items, more maps. And be harsher with the judgments in the Tribunal, please; some of the users in this game are repulsive (or “toxic” as LoL players like to say) and never see justice after repeatedly ruining games for others. You need to tweak the game, clean up its community, and run your tournaments more competently. You’ll probably won’t make any extra money for doing the right thing, but please do the right thing anyway. The sacrifice would be worth it.