Monday, April 14, 2014

Give Them What They Want?

League of Legends came out with a joke game mode for April Fool's this year. URF mode, where everyone had infinite mana and stupidly short ability cooldowns. It was meant to be a silly thing, up for a week. It was rather popular and they extended it for another week on top of that. It went away earlier today and people are not happy. Reading comments on any big internet post is probably a bad idea in general... Reading the comments on the removal announcement was not a terribly productive use of my time.

My first instinct is that removing it is a fine idea. Riot has an established policy of bringing out new game modes for short periods of time and then rotating them out. All for one where everyone on a team played the same champion, or hexakill where you played 6 on 6 instead of 5 on 5. The justifications for that policy make a fair amount of sense. Only putting these wacky game modes out for a short period of time puts the focus on them when they're up, increasing the number of people playing at once and reducing launch times for individual people waiting to play. Having 20 or 30 different game modes would risk fragmenting the user base to the point where the least popular ones might not launch. Rotating game modes out also gives the development team a chance to 'fix' any problems with it before they relaunch it. And limiting the number of modes available at any given time limits complexity when it comes to how other changes to the game engine might impact them. It's bad enough that they need to finesse the numbers for 120 champions on 3 maps as it is. Running 30 different maps with different durations for Singed's ult on each of them would be a bit of a nightmare.

On the other hand there seem to be a lot of people who want to play a game. This game exists. But these people can't play the game because the game owners just turned it off. The idea that games I want to play can just disappear on the whims of other people is one that makes me sad. I play lots of games that aren't necessarily popular (and that are often quite old) and that couldn't happen if the companies behind them could just make them disappear in order to further their other business interests. Why let me play Final Fantasy IV when they could try to make me pay them a bunch of money and play Final Fantasy XIII-2 instead?

Though in that case I own Final Fantasy IV in cartridge form, having paid for it already, and there's nothing Square needs to do in order for me to play it now. Here no one is paying Riot for a specific game mode and it is costing them bandwidth both real and developmental...

Maybe it's just a problem with online games in general. I don't know. Maybe I'm just getting old and crotchety. Back in my day I could play any game that I had in my hands!

Regardless, Riot gets to do what it thinks is best. Apparently that is to remove URF mode for the time being. So I went and played 4 ranked games today instead of URF mode, and I had fun. Woo!

1 comment:

Sthenno said...

Maybe Riot is trying to teach their fanbase about the impermanence of all things?