New001, ScuttleChris, and Banksy - product leads on League - here to loop you in on what’s next for League of Legends.
tl;dr: Riot Pls is an ongoing effort to talk about the future of League of Legends and share lessons we’re learning along the way. You can read the first one here.
Over the last 6+ years, we’ve been guided by a few core philosophies -- for example, we believe League at its best is an incredibly competitive experience, and one that is all the more powerful when played with people you trust. We also believe that our mission is to support League in being the best it can be, whether it’s maintaining the never ending path to mastery, offering more avenues of expression, or connecting players to one another through a shared love of the game.
We still believe these things and wanted to share how our vision - our long, long-term goal for League - has evolved.
We want League of Legends to become a global sport that lasts for generations. We’re not just talking about the LCS (or LCK, or CBLoL, or NACS, or…); we’re talking about League as a way of life - a competitive hobby, pastime, or activity that stays with you through the years. Imagine growing up with League the same way others have grown up with basketball, baseball, or soccer; shooting free-throws at the park, playing pickup games at the gym, forming new friendships in recreational leagues, being a die-hard fan of your favorite pro team, all the way to taking the international stage at the World Finals (if that’s the path you choose). Ultimately this is our goal: to foster a love for the sport of League by offering competitive, fulfilling experiences at all levels of play. We’re not quite there today, but we think we can get there with your help.
This vision doesn’t demand we drop everything else we’re working on. It just provides us with an overarching ideal we can push toward. We want League to grow into a true team sport and, at times, progress has been painful. As we stack-rank our development priorities, we’ve had to be honest with ourselves in making hard decisions about things we aren’t prioritizing. It’s part of why we retired Dominion, and it’s part of our initial goals for dynamic queue (and why we fumbled in the transition over from solo/duo queue). With these challenges in mind, however, we still believe this is the vision, and we’d love to hear your ideas on how we can accomplish it.
As we get more comfortable talking about work on the fly, Riot Pls will move away from being about the features we’ve shipped (or won’t ship) and more on the lessons we’ve learned in pursuit of this vision. For now, we have a few things to cover:
We were wrong to completely shut down the possibility of sandbox mode. Full stop. Our initial argument - that training mode makes for an even higher barrier to entry - makes some behavioral assumptions that many rightly called us out on. Your passionate feedback and sound reasoning, along with a lot of internal conversations around this vision of League as a global sport have made it clear that our concerns only have the potential to become reality if we’re not doing our job. Providing competitive experiences at all levels of play also means we should be providing the right training tools at all levels of play.
That said, being open to the idea doesn’t mean it immediately becomes our top priority. The internal team that would develop this feature is focused on a different project for the foreseeable future, so while we’re saying we want to do it and, one day, we will, that’s the extent of this commitment. Your feedback has always been a powerful presence in conversations around how we achieve our goals, so while we can’t even promise SoonTM here, we didn’t want to leave the issue canceled. When we begin tangible, focused work on sandbox mode, we’ll update you.
(Quick caveat: when we say sandbox mode, we’re specifically referring to a training mode where players can practice core skills - not a sandbox ‘modify your game in any way’ mode.)
We don’t expect you to rent out a gaming house with four friends just so you can stay in Plat, but we do want to support a queue that levels up in competition like any other team sport: through leadership, cooperation, and, yes, raw skill. All athletes possess these attributes in different measures, but they understand and value them intrinsically. Prior to the launch of dynamic queue, we felt like we had a competitive ladder that over-indexed on the raw skill and individualism parts instead of naturally promoting all-around great teamplay.
When the team made its recent update, a lot of players took away the conclusion of “no solo queue” -- that we were hiding from a hard conversation by being purposefully vague. In reality, we’re not making a call on solo queue because there are some critical issues we need to fix in dynamic queue to understand what’s actually missing. Promising solo queue in our original announcement was premature - a knee-jerk reaction to a situation we were still figuring out - and our silence on the matter (outside of some miscommunications) only made things more suspicious.
Here’s the rundown: We know that for some players, dynamic queue undermines individual recognition of skill, and that’s not something we can solve with iterative improvements. It’s a philosophical difference. But, we know a lot of things that can be solved with iterative improvements, and our current top three priorities are improving the solo player experience against premades, lowering queue times, and smoothing out role selection weight. In an ideal (and optimistic) world, getting these numbers right would make a second queue unnecessary, but it’s not something we’re dismissing as of yet. Right now we're prioritizing the stability and health of a single queue - two would split the ranked player base and have a significant impact on wait times - and this is not a decision we’re taking lightly.
When it comes to a philosophical stance, however, we do want to be clear: we believe that dynamic queue is closer to representing a healthy, competitive landscape in League of Legends than solo/duo queue. We’re not saying this to present a binary ‘one or the other’ situation -- it’s a belief in the same way we know we’re under-serving those who want a way to measure (and communicate) their individual performance. This will be an ongoing conversation as we finish stabilizing dynamic queue and develop a deeper understanding of what we should be prioritizing next.
When we launched League back in 2009, we were just focused on making the game we wanted to play… and then making sure the damn thing stayed online and worked correctly. We’ve spent most of our time since then trying to keep up with the game as it grows -- we’ve told the story dozens of times. Honestly speaking, we’ll never get beyond tech debt (or design debt, or art debt, or systems debt, etc.) because we never want to stop evolving and trying to improve. But we’ve made a lot of progress over the last few years (even with occasional stumbles), and 2016 is finally the year where we can build off our remodeled foundations to take real, meaningful steps forward.
Whether it’s alpha testing an updated client, improving our backend stuff, delivering clubs and the mobile app, or working hard on our mid-season update, we’ll always stay hungry in evolving League as a global sport that lasts for generations. We hope you’ll stay with us on that course.
We’ll see you before Q3 with our next wall of text.
New001, ScuttleChris, and Banksy