Is League Of Legends Really Dying?
Roughly a two weeks ago i saw this link on /r/LeagueOfLegends and came to a realization that you can’t jump into conclusions based one source of data – just because revenue is going up doesn’t mean that the customer base has increased, it can mean that existing customer base are buying more or prices gone up, which can also mean that players have left the game (see picture below)
Theories Why Revenue is Increasing
- Riot has released a lot more skins that have higher prices on them such as PROJECT, Pool Party, Mecha Skins that are priced at 1350
- Opening of the Japanese Server may brought influx of new customer
- People just have started to spend more on League (Unlikely)
- Hextech Crafting was introduced, which we all know is huge money sink, especially if you want Hextech Annie (Requires lot of rolls to be honest)
There are of course other reasons why revenue might be going up perhaps more sales in eSports side of things or perhaps more higher quality products that people want to buy, but the end line is just because revenue is going up doesn’t mean that the game has as much players as it did in the past.
Let’s Look at the Data
Since we can’t really believe statistics given by Riot Games themselves (Its not like they have released any data about registered players or people who are playing concurrently, in quite some time) we have to dig up data from other sources which are reliable and give any type of a look whats going on.
The first piece of data comes from Google Trends, which pretty much shows you search volume for keywords that you choose on their website. September 2013 being the time when the game had peaked highest on the searches and ever since September 2014 there has been a decline in searches.
However keyword only tells us certain things not the full story, but it kinda gives you insight about flux of upcoming new players, since they have to search the game in order to download the client and other side is pretty much how much media/people who don’t know about the game search for it i guess.
The next thing we are looking is Riot Games Twitch Channel Numbers via socialblade. The Fluctuation here is somewhat different compared to google trends. The twitch channel has been gaining subscribers each month however last two months have gone on minus side, so on June 2016 the channel went to negative -2,700 subscribers and July 2016 so far is -2,090 subscribers. This could be due to the new Bo3 and Bo2 systems or just general interest for LCS has dropped immensely, you have to understand that in May 2016 they went +27,000 subscriber positive.
Next up we are going to talk about stats from /r/LeagueOfLegends which is arguably huge portion of the LoL audience. The peak page views was done in November 2015 and peak unique’s was done in January 2016 (sadly Reddit only shows last 12 months, so we have to work on info we got).
By current trajectories July 2016 will end up having under 7 million unique views and total page views have been dropping since April 2016 according to these numbers. So this latest two month decline is not unique to Google and twitch, it also seems to follow Reddit as well.
The League Domain Numbers
Next we shall look up all sub-domain traffics for each servers that are under Riot’s domain and first two we are going take a look at is EUW & EUNE. Which both have been dropping downwards ever since of April 2016, while EUW took a bigger downshift on following two months, EUNE seemed to have less decline.
Next up we have Brazil and Turkey servers and these are lot more interesting stats to look at while BR has been in decline already since March 2016, but TR server has been kinda going uptrend since February 2016, but i expect that to go down again in July 2016 since they have the ongoing military crisis right now, which affects access to internet among other things.
Looking at the numbers the NA domain has the highest traffic out of them all, but like EUW/EUNE there has been a 5 Million page view drop between April 2016 and May 2016, also it kept dropping also on June 2016. So when you compare June 2016 numbers with January 2016 numbers there has been 1/4 (aka 10 million page views) drop and i can say that is rather huge chunk.
Now we shall go to Russia and Japan for their domain stats. I shouldn’t be that surprised that Russia’s numbers are totally random, it seems to go like roller-coaster up and down. While as JP server launched on March 2016 and thats where it enjoyed a nice peak of traffic but ever since the traffic dropped by almost half in April 2016 and been going down ever since. I think PC gaming already has some issues getting the interest of the Japanese gamers so who knows how heavily it will keep dropping in upcoming months.
I Guess the news about Korea’s League Of Legends decline weren’t a lie, with each month going down ever since January 2016 to June 2016 (Overall the traffic has dropped over half, which is rather drastic when you put it into context). I think one of the reasons to this is
Similar to RU server the Oceanic server seems to have quite a roller-coaster effect as well where it goes up and down each month, but it drastically changes instead of small rises or drops during the months.
Finally we have LAS and LAN servers which have been pretty much going in decline since of January 2016 in terms of traffic. While LAS did rise on March 2016 it did eventually started to drop and same applies for LAN but that one had more of a smooth decline since its inception January 2016 to end of June 2016.
Watch Time in Twitch.tv for LoL
Up for next we are going to watch time hours for LoL (Includes all channels), this chart is based on stats taken from https://newzoo.com and kudos to them for collecting info about eSports and games. So the numbers are rather fluctuating if you ask me, there are bunch of reason why they look like this – for one November – December is off season so there is no eSports tournaments then except few IEM’s who lot of people detest these days.
But the same thing happens here again compared to all other sources we have looked up today April 2016 starts a drop in numbers, here it starts in March 2016. While June does go up almost a million versus may, its still significantly lower to the March 2016 where the last peak was.
Korean Internet Cafe (PC방)
It’s also important to look the data outside the western space (i mean we did look at the Korean domain already) getting access to stats from baidu for example can be rather hard among other Korean sites like Naver, which would perhaps give more detail into Asian decline of the game (if there is any) but one piece of evidence we do have is PC Bang charts and which games are being played the most there.
For Long period of time League of Legends was #1 most played game on PC Bangs but on June OverWatch went pass LoL, this heavily implicates that lot of people transferred to play OverWatch instead of League Of Legends. There has been lot of outcry about Riot Korea not banning hackers on their servers and this has caused some dissatisfaction on Korean player-base.
I might be adding more data to this post later, but for now its “done”.