Here I would like to show some problems involving IP based League system. How it really works and how does it influence the game.
How much IP?
First of all I will count how much IP a player needs to have all the champions and runes.
Champions come in different prices:
- 11 for 450 IP,
- 21 for 1350 IP,
- 25 for 3150 IP,
- 33 for 4800 IP and
- 30 for 6300 IP.
To buy all 124 champions one needs nearly 480 000 IP.
Runes are not so cheap too, assuming one buys only pages in "2 for price of one" bundle and need around 7000 to fulfil it, one rune-page costs 10 000 IP.
20 rune-pages cost 200 000IP.
Combined price of full gear of champions and runes is around 700 000 IP currently.
Is that much or not? What that number represents?
To answer that, let me show how long one needs to play to get it. Firstly, look how are IP gathered.
There is no other mean to gain IP than playing games. Typical game lasts between 25 up to 50 minutes. Adding 5 minutes in lobby and loading screen makes 30-55 minutes per game to spare. Reward depends on outcome of game - winners get roughly 100 IP, losers 70.
Additionally there is a First Win of the Day reward for any win in 22 hours after last First Win. It is 150 IP.
Assuming, that professional player plays 10 hours daily, one can play 15 games. Those summarized with 150 IP from daily reward give around 1500 IP daily income.
Totally casual player just earns daily reward through bot-games (180 IP).
How much can typical player earn daily?
I am estimating, that few games and daily reward give around 350IP. That value comes from observation of my earnings. Remember, it takes 2-3 hours every day to play 3 games! Tell us how to care about children, do homework or sleep?
Let's take that value - 350 IP. How much is it?
700 000 : 350 = 2 000 days
2 000 : 365 = 5,5 year
2 thousands days to get all the purchasable items! It's nearly 6 years!
OK, let's try other values.
- 700 000:180 ~~ 3 900, 11 years (bottom cap - only daily reward vs AI)
- 700 000:1500 ~~ 450, 1.5 year (upper cap - 10 hours in game daily)
It's very simple: typical active player needs nearly 6 years to get all the characters and runes. Let's imagine - LoL was released in 2009. That game does not even lasts enough for a regular player to have it all!
Why is that a problem?
In fact it is very big problem involving whole community.
New players are in very bad position. Champions over 1350 IP tier are simply difficult to buy. With narrow pool it's impossible to make proper meta-adjustments, learn champions or so. The only solution is to buy accounts developed by bots or spend loads of real-life money to get 6300IP champions with RP. Over that game feels really unrewarding.
Even elder players have narrow champion pool, simply because it's impossible to get all without lot of time spend. And, obviously runes are just a topping over that.
Daily reward is very significant. Without it, mean daily income is much much lower (ex. people playing only weekends)! That means, player must treat LoL seriously to spend at least 20 minutes daily for FWotD reward.
On opposite, after all champions and runes are gained (pro player, real-life money), player is left with monstrous amount of useless IP.
Those problems mentioned above weren't an issue until there was no competition, just DOTA and LOL. Time flows and now there is HOTS, SMITE and DOTA. Will the new players come into sticky net of Garena or will rather chose something else?
How dire is that?
Let's define the problem.
How long should take for players to get full set of champions and runes?
Assume - 3 years (Obviously, 4 years or something can suffice, just call it). It's safe value for an addicted player to be rewarded and for sunday players it would be much easier. Seriously - it's half the time it takes now! Let's look at examples how can this be achieved:
- Every champion, rune and runepage is 2 times cheaper
- Gain per game including FWotD is twice higher
- All the 6300 and 4800 champions are free (348 000 IP spared)
Yes. It's huge. To get to considerable amount of time Riot would need to take quite drastic measurements. Is that even possible? Should Riot try to solve that problem or rather leave it?
1. IP per level
That solution is addressed to new players. With that reward fresh player can fulfil 2 default rune pages and buy some champions. That would be much more appealing for new players who are not sure what to chose.
How much should it be to be significant?
- 100 per level = 3 000 on 30th level, not even funny
- 1000 per level = 30 000 on 30th level
- 5000 per level = 150 000 on 30th level, that's actually big
In my opinion value of 1000 IP gain per level would be good. It's enough to buy runes for first two pages, all 450 IP champions and some more expensive ones.
In fact that would not affect an overall cost of full set. Depending on assumed value of daily income it would shorten time to achieve all that in between 150 to 20 days.
IMO, that should be done ASAP. Just to lure fresh players.
2. Daily rewards stacking
That feature is addressed to typical weekend players. Those are valuable, because of their tendency to spend money on games. Increasing reasons to play LoL would encourage them to keep into.
I would rather avoid talking about that part, because it's obvious. Blizzard stacks daily quests thrice, there is even possibility to re-roll in Hearthstone (in HotS not).
3. Higher daily rewards
This is a solution for players who play regularly. If they really wanted to get all the champions, their struggles would be rewarded.
Importance of daily reward is high for typical player who plays 3 hours daily (3 hours are still a lot accounting that there is life around...). In only AI games, daily reward can be 80% of daily income, in typical 350IP/day scenario it's 40%.
Assuming, that we want to gather everything in 1100 days (roughly:3 years) we take for example 50 IP added to daily reward.
It's not much, but with combination with 30 000 IP from level rewards it's 85 000 more. We just need another 265 000 to get to those 3 years...
4. Higher game rewards
That was tested little bit ago, in premade games income was greater by around 10%. We assumed, that typical player gets 200 IP daily from direct game rewards.
20 x 1100 *(3years) = 22 000
Simply too low.
5. Cheaper champions
I already put example how much cheaper should champions be: free 6300 and 4800 IP champions or all half-priced. But honestly, Riot should lower prices of many champions.
Assume that every month a champion goes down by 1500 IP.
3 years = 36 months.
1500IP x 36 = 54 000IP
Maybe should champion on sale have lower IP cost too?
6. Rewards for positive players
Some IP boosts, free champions or anything can cause a lot of positive feelings toward Riot.
7. IP sink
The last problem: useless IP should be solved too. In my opinion there should be way to buy RP for IP (1RP = 1000IP?). It could unlock only after all champions are bought. It's the simplest way to solve things.
Despite all the doubts Riot should really care for players. In an online game it is very important to have opponents, friends to talk among and huge community. Great success of Riot was an exceptional thing: free to play game, every player was welcomed, every one could play and pay or pay not. In current state of game, LoL dangerously drifts toward Pay to Win model. With pricey champions and runes it's very unlikely for a new player to get into without big external pressure and wasted money. Peripeteias of pro-players are widely known, but daily struggle of players trying to get new champions is totally forgotten. Unfortunately wealth is coming from other side...
It was OK until now, but traditional rivalry with DotA is now gone, Big players have arisen, SMITE and HotS are similar, but, in fact are much more appealing for new players and more rewarding for casual and regular ones.
IP system seems outdated and makes just for an excuse to keep LoL marked as free to play. I suppose it was designed without deeper insight, now it should be updated. And it needs to be a big update, not refresh.