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League of Legends - Addiction Sets In
I am now effectively a confirmed League of Legends addict. I don't know what it is about multiplayer games that makes their effective game life ten or a hundreds beyond that of single player games, but LoL is no exception. I have played around 150 matches at this point, which, going by some rough math, adds up to a horrible amount of time. I'm still only level 20, out of a possible 30, and ranked games have just now opened up - though I personally would consider playing them before hitting cap ill advised. Judging by the rate at which I'm leveling up now, I imagine a solid 250 games will be necessary to hit cap, which puts the game in World of Warcraft bracket of time commitments. Again, were this a single player game, the mechanics would have gotten old dozens of hours ago, but somehow the cooperative and competitive nature of it makes it fun.

There are a few aspects of the game that I find particularly interesting - mostly in the details of how it's run, really. LoL is, for me at this particular point, a $40 game, up significantly from the $0 initial investment. I still have about $10 worth of that money banked, and the rest has gone mostly to characters, with a few boosts in there as well. I consider it money well spent, and the game's rates fair enough, for the most part. Old champions cost a few dollars, ones that have been around awhile $5 or so, and new ones around $9. The real money makers, it would seem, are skins. They have no effect on gameplay at all - they're purely cosmetic - and range between ~$2 for cheap, almost inconsequential ones, to ~$9 for new, decent looking ones, all the way to nearly $20 for a select few complete overhauls of character visuals. $2 I consider fair for a cosmetic change to my characters, which is why I own precisely 0 skins. $9 I find ridiculously unreasonable, and $20 just about drops my jaw. I've yet to see any of those, but I have seen several of the $9 skins. The amount of money Riot Games must be raking in is astounding.

Speaking of, Riot puts out a new character roughly three times every two months, which seems a rather impressive rate to me, and there are typically two new skins to go for each new character now, as well as about three skins for other characters in that same patch. The total cost to unlock all characters in the game boggles the mind. As a very rough estimate, I'd guess $300, and if you add in the skins, I'm sure the game is well over $500, and pushing nearly a thousand. It puts something of a new perspective on free to play games. Yes, they are free to play, but one or two heavy spenders will easily make up for five or six who never spend anything.

Of course, all of that falls flat if the game itself is no good, and LoL's brilliance is mostly in the gameplay. I'm still amazed that a game with two maps and four abilities per character can remain complex and entertaining past twenty games, but it does quite a fine job. I have a decent command of seven characters, and there's still plenty of room for improvement on each. As with most things competitive, it is often a game of inches, which means that one small tweak to your item build or your runes - or more relevantly, one small increase in your skill - can make a huge difference in matches. And that, I suppose - along with the fun of shared victory and defeat - is what keeps me coming back and spending money on a game that doesn't require it of me.


 
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