League of Legends is one of the most successful video games of all time. As is customary with every game that garners a huge audience and commands millions in revenue, people inevitably wonder if LoL is in its sunset years.
Whether it’s to see the mighty fall or purely innocent speculation, some gamers like to hear about games dying more than them gaining success. It’s a strange world we live in, really. But pondering the question of LoL’s current popularity status does have its interesting aspects.
So, let’s start with the question you’re here for.
Is League of Legends Actually Dying?
The short answer is no. League of Legends isn’t a dying game when it comes to the numbers that matter. One of the most important statistics is how many people are actually playing the game regularly.
According to statistics, LoL’s monthly concurrent player count has gone up between 2019 and 2022. Sure, there have been some troughs to go with the peaks, but the fact of the matter is that there has been a lot of gamers diving into Summoner’s Rift over the last few years.
This has become even more apparent during the last few months when League has seen more monthly active accounts than ever. On top of that, their peak player numbers in a single day have only been rising from 2019 until today. Finally, League does extremely well in the streaming department as well. The game is consistently at the top of the most-watched games on Twitch, especially when events are happening.
It’s also important to look at whether Riot themselves are making money from the game and the stats here are quite favorable as well. Revenue numbers between 2015 and 2020 are showing year after year that LoL is generating at least $1.4 billion. Sure, 2020 was a bit lower than the game’s peak revenue of $2.1 billion in 2017 but $1.75 billion is nothing to sneeze at either. There’s little reason to believe the game’s annual income in 2021 and 2022 will see a slump big enough to make Riot kill it.
It’s clear that LoL is a juggernaut in the gaming space. So, how do you kill a juggernaut?
What Would it Take for League of Legends to Die?
To answer this, we need to define the term “dead game”. Plenty of gamers use this term to mean a game that doesn’t have enough players to make it worth their while. However, this is highly subjective.
Titanfall 2 is an FPS that’s quite niche. It can’t possibly compete in terms of concurrent player numbers with the likes of CoD, CS:GO, and Valorant, even during its initial launch honeymoon period. Yet, the game remains online, even after its peak player count is seemingly quite low. In other words, despite its low player count, the game isn’t dead.
However, there’s a difference in server costs between a behemoth like LoL and a small fry like Titanfall 2. Were LoL to ever suddenly drop to the same player count levels, Riot would likely kill it in an instant as the weight of costs would surely bleed their coffers dry. However, this is an extreme scenario for illustrative purposes.
The point is that League would need to see a massive exodus of players that would make running the game financially unsustainable for its development house. That isn’t very likely to happen, given how many failsafes it has.
For one, even if League is no longer played by many people, it’ll surely be watched. It’s a known fact that gamers enjoy watching pro players just as much as they like playing themselves – or even more! The League Championship Series and other major events garner millions of viewers each year.
So, for League of Legends to do die you’d need a) a whole lot of people to stop playing it and b) a whole lot of people to stop watching it. That’s not very likely to happen anytime soon. A good start would be for a significantly more appealing MOBA to make a big impact that would drive players away from LoL. But, that hasn’t quite cut the mustard so far.
Which Games Have Tried to Kill League of Legends?
Games of all stripes can seduce players away from titles their currently playing and LoL players certainly have had a lot of temptations over the years, from hero shooters to battle royales. For the same of keeping things simple, though, I’m going to only touch on MOBAs that have tried to eat LoL’s lunch.
The most obvious game is League’s eternal rival, DotA 2. Released four years after LoL, this Valve-developed MOBA has a lot going for it. For starters, its entire roster is free and unlocked right off the bat. The game is also considered more challenging and diverse in its strategic possibilities. Despite all of that, it hasn’t been able to lure in enough players from League.
Another company that tried to eat LoL’s lunch by taking the accessibility angle was Blizzard’s Heroes of the Storm. Pegged as a more beginner-friendly game with more diverse gameplay, HotS was primed to have a solid start thanks to its roster of beloved characters. However, the game never managed to quite hit the right numbers. Blizz has never released the figures which is a telltale sign the game doesn’t measure up to LoL and DotA2.
So, if big developers like Blizzard and Valve can’t kill League of Legends, does that mean the game will live on forever?
Will League of Legends Ever Die as a Game?
League will probably be around for the foreseeable future. Whether it’s as a game with a huge playerbase or an esport we watch, this massive franchise isn’t going away for a long while. Even if a new, more exciting game were to come out, LoL will always have a strong following.
The closest parallel we have at the moment is World of Warcraft, the biggest MMORPG in existence. Although it’s long been dethroned by FFXIV, Blizzard’s massive magnum opus has continued to remain hugely profitable and popular, even though it’s been around for nearly 20 years.
The bigger question here is why even expect a game like LoL to die. With tons of players playing it, it’s clear that there’s a desire for its existence and that can only be a good thing. Drawing from the earlier parallel, FFXIV rose from the ashes of its failed initial launch and clawed its way upwards, doing everything it could better than WoW until it surpassed it. There’s little to suggest this won’t one day happen with LoL. And healthy competition like that can only be a good thing for the gaming market.