Quick LoL Thoughts: June 19

Little Legends on ARAM, how we assess skin themes.

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Hi folks,

Usual Disclaimers

These posts will often contain talk about future work we're doing, or planning to do, that isn't yet guaranteed to ship. The nature of the work could change or, depending on what we discover, projects mentioned may get delayed or even stopped. If you'd like to see a Tweet whenever a new one of these posts goes up:

A Recap

This year RiotScruffy and I are alternating posts. He’ll cover in depth balance and other gameplay topics every second week (Quick Gameplay Thoughts). I’ll cover a wider range of issues in the other weeks (Quick LoL Thoughts). My posts will sometimes contain gameplay content too, though usually won’t.

Removing Little Legends from ARAM

In patch 10.15 we’ll be removing Little Legends (LLs) from ARAM. Key factors behind that:

  • LLs on ARAM meaningfully undermine visual clarity, with the motion and brightness they add making it harder to track champions and their spells. We’d hoped to avoid that being an issue by having LLs usually avoid central areas where combat happens. That hasn’t been sufficient however.
  • Very few players have been interested in acquiring LLs specifically for ARAM use. While some players who’ve acquired them for TFT do use them on ARAM almost no one has purchased them for ARAM specifically. Overall player sentiment about their presence on ARAM is also quite low.
  • We’ve been constraining our LL designs because they also need to exist on ARAM. That means limitations to things like silhouettes (need to ensure they never read as champion), size, emotes (animations shouldn’t look like spellcasts) etc. Making them purely a TFT feature gives us more freedom when creating future LLs to do cool things.

Having said that, there are some players who have very much enjoyed the presence of LLs on ARAM. For those of you in that situation our apologies. We think this is the right call for ARAM players overall, we realize for some of you it will be a downgrade in your experience though. For those of you who bought LLs specifically for ARAM who haven’t played TFT we’ll be refunding the RP spent on them. Details about how that will work:

  • Refunds will be applied to accounts that own LLs but have never played TFT. It doesn't look at specific LL usage, it's an account-level "TFT yes/no" flag.
  • The refund process will start when 10.15 goes out and should be finished before patch 10.16.
  • It will remove all Little Legends from your account and refund the RP spent on them, both the LLs you used on ARAM and the ones you didn't.
  • Non RP LL unlocks (e.g. Twitch Prime rewards) will not be refunded.

How we assess skin line themes

When we assess a group of skins that share a theme we look at four things:

  1. How did the skin perform relative to expectations? We don’t expect a skin for a niche champion to be acquired by as many players as one for a really popular champion, so this is about acquisition relative to the base champion’s popularity. Skin acquisition equates to both player happiness (who liked the skin enough to get it) and revenue for Riot.
  2. Player surveys about the theme. Are players more interested in seeing this theme return than most other themes? This is about the theme’s potential, rather than the specific skins we just released using the theme. It’s not a survey of players who acquired the skins, but players in general.
  3. Did this skin release get more or less support from us than usual? This means things like trailers, prominent space in the client, overall amount of time taken building the skins relative to others at the same tier etc.
  4. How many more champions exist that players are telling us they think would fit well into this theme? A skin line might be well loved and perform well, but if we’ve used up all the good fits it makes more sense to focus on other themes instead.

Based off those factors we’ll decide whether to continue with the skin line as a high profile theme, continue with the theme as a regular set of skins, rework the theme to try and better deliver on the promise we and players think it has, or vault the theme (no plans for further skins).

Some concrete examples:

  • High Noon - The original High Noon skins didn’t perform particularly well. We believed though that there was a lot of potential in them so rebooted the skin line with the 2018 release. That release didn’t have a large amount of support (limited publishing assets like trailers etc). It performed very well though and players gave us really positive feedback about it. As a result we’ve made High Noon a higher visibility/priority skin line since.
  • Sugar Rush - We’ve tried Sugar Rush a couple of times and unfortunately it’s done poorly in both cases. Sugar Rush 2019 for example was in the bottom 10% of skin lines versus expectations for the year. Reluctantly we’ve decided to vault Sugar Rush as a result. It’s possible that there are approaches that would work for a meaningful number of players, we think spending time on other options looks a lot more promising at this point though.
  • Star Guardian - Started off strong and continued strong. People were excited for these skins immediately, a lot of players acquired them and those that did use them a lot, suggesting that they’re favorites relative to other skins for the champs that have them. Very few skin lines perform so consistently well. We still want to make sure we don’t return to themes like SG too quickly, bring a somewhat different spin on things each time, force the theme onto a champ that doesn’t make sense etc. It’s a great example of a theme that seems to have lasting appeal though provided we make the right choices with it.
  • Debonair - Debonair has had very mixed performance. Some skins have done, others have very much missed the mark. We think there’s potential there though, so we’re exploring a possible reboot for a 2021+ Debonair line, along with possible reboots to a lot of other older skin thematics. One thing we’ve identified is that Debonair’s too thin at present. Well dressed champions is a good starting point, but we need more to deliver a strong skin (e.g. High Noon benefited from getting the Hellfire/Demons/Angels elements added to its Old West base). No guarantees Debonair specifically comes back, we expect to return so some older thematics with new takes next year though.

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