League Of Legends Players Are Rebelling Against Overpriced Stuff

League Of Legends Players Are Rebelling Against Overpriced Stuff

League of Legends changes in big ways with alarming frequency. The game's tens of millions of players have learned to never be shy about letting Riot know they don't like something, therefore — usually by writing a strongly-worded forum post. This week, angry fans are doing something much more elaborate. And awesome.

The whole dramatic episode was sparked by an announcement for something Riot said it's bringing into League's "Public Beta Environment", or PBE, very soon: Chroma Packs. These are bundles of different-coloured versions of a given champion's skin. They change the champion's in-game appearance in a small but important way. Here's one Chroma Pack for Lee Sin:

League Of Legends Players Are Rebelling Against Overpriced Stuff

And another for Lucian:

League Of Legends Players Are Rebelling Against Overpriced Stuff

League of Legends players have wanted something like Chroma Packs for a while now. The whole reason Riot is even adding them is because they surveyed players about adding such a feature. So what's the problem, then? The price.

Riot's announcement said that it would make Chroma Packs available to purchase with Riot Points, one of League's two currencies and the only one that player's can only get in exchange for real-world money. Riot said in its announcement that people will only be to buy Chroma Packs for 590 RP a pop. That's a little less than five bucks in League's weird and wildly successful free-to-play monetisation scheme:

League Of Legends Players Are Rebelling Against Overpriced Stuff

League players gaped at the price of Chroma Packs. Adding almost five bucks, per individual skin, for a few different colour variations? Many implored Riot to make the new Chromas attainable with Influence Points, the other main currency in League and the one that can easily be gained over time by simply playing the game. Competing MOBA games like Heroes of the Storm and Smite make their similar features almost entirely free — colour variations for a given character in Heroes, for instance, are unlocked as you play with them in games and level them up. At the very least, disappointed League players demanded, Riot should let people pay a piecemeal rate to get the specific colour they actually want, rather than spend five bucks to get a bunch of extra stuff they don't plan to use.

OK, so...Riot makes an announcement about something it's doing to League of Legends, players get upset and fume about it online, "Rito Pls" threads proliferate on the game's forums and its massive subreddit. So far, this is just another day in the League of Legends community. What made the Chroma Pack saga uniquely interesting was what happened next.

There was one key detail in Riot's Chroma Packs announcement that really ticked people off: the reason the company gave for setting such a high price point for a feature that, while certainly appreciated, seemed more like something anyone with basic Photoshop skills could work up than the ornately gorgeous champion skins fans eagerly spend loads of RP on. In its FAQ for the Chroma Packs, Riot said the 590 RP price was established on account of "the work we put into crafting them." The full statement:

The community has been asking for recolors for a long while, but despite testing and experimenting with a few internal ideas, we couldn't find a way to build them that satisfied our high standards. The current price reflects the work we put into crafting them.

Yeah, it's possible to do a quick and dirty overlay, or shift a slider left in an editing program, but we think you would call us on that bullshit real quick, and as players ourselves, we wouldn't be satisfied with such a hacky solution.

The League community didn't buy it. "You were right, Riot," one player wrote in a post on the game's forums. "This is in fact bullshit." To prove the point, this player went ahead and made some Chroma Pack-esque custom character designs of his own. His original post, which was published just three days ago, quickly picked up steam online as other disappointed fans circulated it.

It might have begun as rhetorical exercise to call bullshit on Riot for making something overpriced. But the custom fan-made chromas quickly became something more than just that. On Wednesday night, Westborn, a 20 year-old German League player with experience creating custom visual designs for champions, put out an open call on the League of Legends subreddit saying he was "creating whatever Chroma you want for you."

"Name it, I make it," he promised. Whether to try and call his bluff or just to get a snazzy new champion model, people took him up on his offer. Westborn, whose real-world name is Max, was quick to oblige.

Custom fan-made Chromas started to pop up online on Wednesday night. Come Thursday morning, the League subreddit was so heavily inundated by people clamoring to show theirs off or asking other players to make a specific model that the forum's massive audience decided to move things over to a dedicated subreddit, "Chroma Requests."

Like other longtime League players, Westborn has been making custom stuff for a long time. He told me over Skype today that he first began tinkering with this aspect of the game three years ago when he wanted to see unique icons for the character Udyr's rejiggered abilities in the game. Riot hadn't added new icons, and since the developer has generally been cool with players adding their own stuff as long as it doesn't mess with the game (say, by giving a champion an unfair advantage), he went ahead and did it himself.

There's an existing world of player-created goodies for League of Legends, then. The only difference now, Westborn told me, is that he felt a special obligation to start putting out custom work en masse because Riot had fucked up.

"My threads' original intent was to just show how easy it actually is to create these," Westborn said. "This random nerd from Germany can do it and so can anyone else that cares enough to learn the absolute basics of picture editing."

The price of Chroma Packs seem particularly egregious to longtime League players like Westborn, meanwhile, because being charged for something as small as base-level colour variations feels like a real slap in the face after you've given years of your life and hundreds (if not thousands) of dollars to the game.

"This is not a work that is worth 5€," he continued. "This should be a nice thing they do for the community to give back. I invested close to a 1000€ in the game and there are many more like me. And I never minded to spend that Money. I had the option to, I was never forced to buy myself into the game or get crazy advantages for 5 bucks."

"It's the same with chromas," he concluded. But unlike skins, chromas are something you don't have to invest tons of resources and time into. Chromas are a plaything — something small that just makes people happy. Charging Money for them is a, pardon my language, absolute dickmove."

I asked Riot if the developer has any plans to change the price of League's Chroma Packs given the community's overwhelmingly negative reaction to it so far, and if they will continue to allow players to use custom-made stuff in the game given just how much is showing up at present. Representatives from the company did not respond by press time.

Regardless of what Riot chooses to do with its Chroma Packs now, though, the League of Legends community's spin on the new feature has already taken on a life of its own.

Now that his work has taken off, Westborn is planning to start building a new website that will serve as a hub for the League community to come and find custom work for any given champion that they can download and install for their personal copy of the game.

"The entire thing was surprising," Westborn said of his custom chroma's sudden explosion in popularity. "I never expected it to blow up like that. Now there's a entire subreddit specifically for requests. Players are discovering their creative talents and it's just amazing. The thought that I am partially responsible for creating such an interest is truly humbling and a bit surreal."


    Ahh Riot, your greed always amuses me. I'm looking forward to their next announcement of charging for balance patches because of the work they put in.

    They will complain. They will still purchase.

      There are people who complain about things and then don't purchase... I haven't bought an Ubi game in years because of the way they treat their customers.

    Why does anyone play this when there's Dota 2 and HOTS?

      While I'm not really that into League anymore, have played maybe 2-3 matches this year, I just prefer it.

      Can't really tell you why, I just enjoy it more than Dota 2 or HotS... And I really wanted to enjoy HotS, but I simply do not.

        I've heard that alot from my Dota 2 friends. I haven't tried HotS yet, and when I ask them how it plays, they keep saying there's nothing wrong with it, but the whole time they are playing they are thinking 'I could be playing Dota right now'.

        I refuse to touch LoL though. Just seems like a dumbed-down version of Dota, and Riot seem to be terrible compared to Valve.

          Played LoL since 2008 and stopped late 2014. ( stopped so I could be more productive in life)
          Played a bit of Dota 2 every now and then
          Played a bit of HoTs since Beta.

          Things I have noticed.

          Reason I preferred LoL (why it's the most popular) is that you can feel connected to the character you are playing since each action you do is responsive to the character on screen, it's instant, hard to explain but the best example I can think of is the feeling you get when you place a fighter game like street fighter/tekken, each action you do is instant and in relation to the character on screen, LoL is a well made competitive MOBA.

          I can't really say much for Dota 2, I played it on a casual basis when I wanted to take a rest from LoL, It's different as the actions you do have a game set delay, certain character respond differently to each interaction, ie the turn around speed of character when moving back and forward. This causes the feel of disconnection to the Character as in your just giving orders to it.

          HOTS is not even comparable to the 2, It's a novelty MOBA at best.
          I can't see it ever becoming a true competitive MOBA it's like comparing WoW (dota and Lol) to Wizards 101 (HOTS)

          Last edited 10/04/15 3:17 pm

            There isn't a delay with Dota. Characters have turn rates, so it can take a bit of time for a character to turn around and face where you want them to go. Attacks can also have a small wind-up (and there's projectile travel distance) that you have to get used to.

            In League, it's a bit like asking someone to throw you a ball and it just magically leaves their hand while in Dota they have to go through the motions.

            It gives both games a different feel but I definitely don't feel a disconnect when playing Dota.

              I did not mean delay as in it was bad, pretty much what you said is what I was referring too.

              The disconnected feel comes from the roots of Dota 2 that it's based off Dota WC3 which is essentially using the same mechanics as an RTS since dota came from WC3, hence why you are giving orders to your character, that's where the feel of disconnect comes from.

              I'm not saying Lol it better than Dota 2 or the other it's just what I have noticed playing both.

              I enjoy both games

              Last edited 10/04/15 6:09 pm

            I think you're pretty spot on about HOTS... Anytime I play it is always the same. For lack of a better way to put it, to me it feels like the 'kiddy' version of a MOBA.

            I somewhat agree with what you're saying. I played LoL closed beta for a while then played HoN (DoTA 1.5) then went back to LoL and then DOTA (Valve) for a few months and then back to LoL ever since. I felt the community was always worse in DoTA and HoN which might be because I'm ranked Platinum, I do know lower ranks have a lot of abusive players though.

            In LoL you react instantly to everything as said, there are projectile travel times and Riot is actually removing a lot of the always hit skills and making them skill shots to try and make characters less click on target and hit with everything. Also one thing that annoyed me was the whole denying system in DoTA and HoN, for me it meant instead of focusing on trying to kill the enemy hero or finding an opening to do something, it turned into deny for the first 7-10 minutes and only do something when someone majorly stuffs up. In LoL you're actively always engaging the enemy hero, even when you last hit your mobs you're trying to harass the opposing team. It means more interaction with the opposing players and the game seems to move faster because of it, there isn't this sought of phase where everyone sits there farming and denying.

              Interesting. I love the last-hit and deny mechanics, and it's one of the reasons I refuse to shift to LoL. Particularly in the mid lane, it makes it more of a contest between players. You can still focus on harassing the enemy (indeed, some safelane supports are just there to keep the enemy offlaner away from the creep wave by harassing them), but there is another avenue to dominate them in the lane.

              I also can't get my head around Riot's forced meta. Being forced to run a player in the jungle sounds terrible. Don't get me wrong, I have played plenty of jungler games over the years, but it's so easy to shut down the enemy jungle with a bit of coordination. Taking away the freedom to run trilanes, or roaming supports, or whatever you feel like, it just seems so needlessly restrictive.

              I also think the turn rates, and cast/attack windups are a great part of the game... particularly because I like playing batrider, who's Sticky Napalm skill ruins enemy turn rates and just generally makes them sad.

    Complaining about something that has zero effect on the actual game itself, it is a choice to purchase them for aesthetic value, you choose to purchase them at the price they are offered or you wait for them to hit the on special zone. If it was something that had a direct impact on the performance of something then the complaints are well founded but they don't.

    Reminds me a bit of Capcom putting DLC on disks and charging people to unlock it. I don't think it's 100% bad, but a lot of people get upset depending on what it is, and how much it costs. The interesting thing to note is that some games like Dota2 are free and amazing... but then their costs are made up in other ways. I love Dota2(even though I haven't played it in awhile), but I never free like I want to spend money on the extras... whereas if it had an initial outlay for the game itself, I'd get it. WoW is also a money sink... subs every month, plus the game itself, plus your $10-???each for cosmetic pets and mounts... but the WoW zombies pay for it anyway, whereas Capcom players got upset and it's in financial trouble. Boggling. It's good to see ppl staying up for inflated prices though.

      People pay for WoW because its an enjoyable game. And the cosmetic items are that, Cosmetic and optional. No different to any other game. I more than happy to pay for my WoW sub. I am not a zombie because i am

      A: not undead
      B: fully aware and consciously making the purchase decision

        I wasn't trying to offend WoW players(I myself am one), I was just trying to draw attention to the disparity between say someone who plays WoW and spends hundreds of $'s(depending) compared to say someone buying UMvC3 for ~US$40 and getting upset over DLC prices which aren't close to being as much as say Blizzard's(it was maybe $25-35 for all of UMvC3's DLC?).

          Ah, my bad for misinterpreting. But WoW players and LoL players are different consumers and different games. You cant really compare the two.

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