How does Riot Games balance ‘League of Legends?’ The answer is a bit meta. – The Washington Post

How does Riot Games balance ‘League of Legends?’ The answer is a bit meta. – The Washington Post

“You’re trying to do it so everyone is as happy as possible,” Leesman said. “But you understand that you have to make trade-offs sometimes.”

There are around 8 million concurrent players across all regions at any given time, all playing at different skill levels. “League of Legends’” primary game mode is Summoner’s Rift, where teams of 5 players fight to destroy their opponent’s base while each controlling a single champion. These characters have a unique set of abilities that levels up and grows stronger as players kill their opponents. To keep the game fresh and fair for as many of these players as possible, “League of Legends” is changed — in varying degrees of severity — with a new patch every two weeks. It’s a big responsibility, one that falls to around 15 developers at Riot.

There’s a tension inherent to these updates, which sometimes dramatically — and often inadvertently — create new optimal ways to play. But while some players in the “League of Legends” ecosystem will actively seek out the most powerful and efficient ways to play, others simply want a balanced, even playing field, and a stable game experience. The tension is compounded by a professional scene that will eagerly take advantage of the strengths and weaknesses of a patch, disregarding the idea of balance in favor of winning.