Is League of Legends Dying?

The general sentiment from the player base is “yes.” It’s rare that you see people discussing the game and not claiming it’s dying. However, personal opinion can be biased, so here’s a look at the numbers so you can decide for yourself. 


What Do the Numbers Say?


Here is a list of the monthly player count since 2014:


  • 2014: 67 million
  • 2015: Unknown
  • 2016: 100 million
  • 2017: 78 million
  • 2018: 90 million


And here’s the championship finals viewer count since 2014:


                           Total                  Peak


  • 2014:   27 million.       11.2 million.
  • 2015:   36 million.        14 million.
  • 2016:   43 million.        14.7 million.
  • 2017:   57.6 million.     Unknown.
  • 2018:   99.6 million.     44 million.


So what do these numbers mean?


The game is definitely not “dying”. It remains one of the strongest and most mainstream Esports titles to date. Despite its dip in players, it has continued to grow its viewer count exponentially. 


The game is thriving. It has impressive year after year and has helped bring Esports into the mainstream.


So Why the Misconception?


There are a few reasons players cite when discussing League’s supposed decline. Chief among these is Riot Games itself. Riot Games is the developer behind League of Legends, for those who don’t know. 


To keep the game fresh it often changes up the meta, buffing and nerfing champions at will. This season to season yoyoing is the driving force behind a lot of player’s frustration towards the game. 


The changes Riot made to the points system also sparked fan outrage. The company made it harder to level up and decreased the rewards for doing so. This made it harder to unlock new champions. By locking free to play players into a small selectable character pool, they drove away a lot of players. 


The growth of competitor’s titles, such as Fortnite and DOTA, is also a large factor in the supposed decline of League. Fortnite exploded onto the Esports stage, and it has changed the game.  It’s success, while great for Esports as a whole, has posed a direct threat to other titles, such as Call of Duty and League of Legends.


Players are migrating from League over to Fortnite in large numbers, eager to play what is perceived as a more enjoyable overall experience. 


The community also drives its own players out. League’s community is massive, and with that size comes a lot of diversity. 


With that level of diversity also comes toxicity. League’s community is notorious for being overwhelmingly toxic. As the player base grows, so too does the level of toxicity, which ultimately drives away all but those with the thickest of skins. 


What Can Riot Do About It?


Less Controversial Changes


That would be the ideal place for them to start. If they consulted the community more on the meta before changing it, it would go a long way towards recovering the public perception of the game.


More Accessible Champions


Make the champions easier to unlock. Locking most of the playable characters behind a paywall makes it difficult for those without the disposable income to purchase new champions.


Promote a Healthier Community


It’s unlikely Riot could ever manage to succeed in cleansing the community of its toxicity, but it can at least try. If it implements policies that promote a friendly atmosphere, it can help it retain a lot of the new players. 


So, the bottom line here is no, League is not dying. However, we could say that public perception of it is. It is growing in player and viewer count. However those players and viewers are getting increasingly unhappy with the state of the game.