Riot says spike in League of Legends skin prices is ‘justified’
4 mins read

Riot says spike in League of Legends skin prices is ‘justified’

League of LegendsLee “Faker” Sang-hyeok’s new Ahri skin has reignited the discussion around the MOBA “rarity” market, a term coined by former executive producer Jeremy “Brightmoon” Lee following last year’s backlash against the Dark Cosmic Erasure Jhin livery. During a roundtable at Riot’s headquarters in Santa Monica, Los Angeles, I asked game director Pu “PuPuLasers” Liu about Riot’s future plans for rarer skins and whether we’ll see more of them in the future.

When I state that some players were “a little nervous” about the $300 Ahri skin (the signature pack costs $430, but to get Ahri’s Immortalized Legend you have to buy the mid-tier pack), Liu responds that the League of Legends team is aware that “people were very, not just a little, upset about it.”

“I also think it’s justified in some way,” he continues, noting that MOBAs are “a 14-year-old product” and gamers have “become used to anything that costs at a certain price point.”

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“We have to own (these rare skins). These types of products are intended for a very small percentage of our players to be able to purchase and flexibly. In terms of the role they (will) play in our skincare portfolio, it will still (be) a very small minority – I think last year we probably released over 130 or 140 skins, with a smaller number priced at this point of them. I would expect it would still be a minority, not a majority.

“That being said, it’s very important that we share the current state of League of Legends with players,” he continues. “It’s a competitive game; we only sell cosmetics, we don’t want anything that violates the pay-to-win or pay-for-power principles. As a result, the vast majority of our players play League, watch esports, and enjoy all content, videos and music for $0.

“The majority of our revenue comes from a small, single-digit percentage of gamers; this is simply the reality that hobbyists who spend a lot of money have a disproportionate impact on the profitability of the business.”

Pretty woman with long white hair and fox ears sitting on a throne, holding a crown, tails waving behind her, wearing a black tight-fitting outfit with gold trim

“What we were really thinking about is that, morally speaking, there are gamers who are willing to spend $200 a month on their hobby – God knows how much I spent on Warhammer figures,” he tells me. “But what’s really important is that we capture that willingness and ability to spend money that doesn’t bring people to work who shouldn’t be there. It would look bad for us if a lot of people who had no history of spending on League suddenly bought the Signature package – we’d be like, “Oh God, what have we done?”

“But if someone says, ‘Oh, these people have spent money on skins in the past,’ now it gives them a new avenue in the esports ecosystem with a 30% revenue share, and that means revenue growth, not profit. We would rather venture into this space (rather than) trying to acquire people who are currently spending $0 – whether it’s because they’re students or because they don’t have the opportunity.

“We believe there is such a thing as too high a percentage of players spending on free-to-play games,” he concludes. “This means your free-to-play experience is not good enough compared to paid ones.”

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The Faker-inspired League of Legends Hall of Legends event will take place on Wednesday, June 12 at 11:00 PST / 14:00 EST / 19:00 BST / 20:00 CEST. If you’re willing to spend the money, you’ll be able to get Ahri’s Immortalized Legend, as well as a brand new event pass.

In the meantime, however, it’s worth checking out our LoL tier list; after all, some heroes are just built differently. Or, if you’re looking for new skins but can’t afford to spend $300, we’ve got a look at the current League of Legends Mythic store – and it’s one of the best yet.

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