Welcome to Summoner’s Rift: Why a Free Start Can be Better for Business
Introducing games with free starts can help solidify the position of your game in the market, but only if you make it easy and worth playing.
The “league of legends map” is a game that has been around for more than 10 years. It is also one of the most popular games in the world. The developers have recently decided to make it free-to-play and now, some companies are seeing benefits from this decision.
The business idea is absurd at first glance—a game that you can download and play for free. The game may be played indefinitely without paying a single dime, and it does not need a free trial or a basic account. Yes, you read it correctly: the game is completely free. Anyone may play it for as long as they like without ever having to pay anything. While it may seem like an unrealistic economic strategy, it is the precise concept used by “League of Legends,” a competitive battle arena game developed by Riot Games in California.
If you’re unfamiliar with “League of Legends,” it’s a game in which two teams of individual champions compete in a number of game types on a variety of maps, each with their own play style and skill level. Two teams of five battle on Summoner’s Rift, a map with three primary “lanes” surrounded by jungle, in the normal game style. The goal of the game is to destroy the enemy team’s Nexus, a fountain-like crystalline structure that facilitates champion and minion spawning, by fighting through waves of minions and turrets. The game itself has a daily user base of over 27 million people, with a monthly user base of over 67 million. In North America and Europe, the game is the most popular online game, with more play hours than any other PC game.
That’s correct, a completely free game has become the most popular on two continents. Not only that, but it did so in a short period of time. The game was initially released in 2009, and it is now in its fourth “season.” The “season” element refers to the League Championship Series, a global event in which professional teams compete in an electronic sports league culminating in the League World Championship. For comparison, the live event in the Staples Center in Los Angeles in 2013 was sold out, while the online broadcast was seen by 32 million people. The live audience of 8.2 million people outperformed the average viewership of 5.6 million for college football bowl games in 2013-14. The 2013 winners, the South Korean team SK Telecom T1, were awarded a one-million-dollar reward.
So Riot Games took a free-to-play game and turned it into a sensation that attracts an audience often reserved for athletic events, as well as a customer base that surpasses the population of all but 19 nations on the planet, in only five years. Not only that, but they give out million-dollar prizes, and the 2014 League World Championship was just sold out at the South Korean Olympic Stadium. You may be wondering how Riot accomplished this. It’s simple: they got rid of the addiction.
League of Legends is a free game, but that doesn’t mean you can’t pay to play it. While a small number of champions, the arena’s user-controlled warriors, are released for free each week, the great majority are not. While you can save up influence points (IP) to unlock champions permanently, it’s much simpler to just buy Riot Points (RP), which can be purchased online with a credit card or in shops as a gift card. Similarly, Riot Points (which are equivalent to real-world money) may be used to purchase skins for your champions, allowing you to customize the appearance of your in-game character.
While each purchase costs between $5 and $20, which is far less than the usual video game, these purchases may rapidly mount up if you get immersed in the game. Find a champion that suits your style of play. Buy him or her now, since they will not be available for more than a week, and it may be months before they become available again. Do you want to stand out among the hundreds of gamers who are playing your champion at any one time? You’ll have to fork out some bucks to get a skin. Because it’s simple to make purchases while playing, and they’re seldom more than $10 at a time, the system allows gamers to make the odd low-cost purchase without even realizing it, which may add up to a lot of money over time.
That’s where Riot’s model’s brilliance shines through. A typical video game costs $60 up front, after which you get full access to all of the game’s features. Some games, such as the enduringly successful Call of Duty series, may ultimately release Downloadable Content (DLC) to enhance the game’s experience, although the game itself does not alter over time. League of Legends, on the other hand, is a game that is always changing. New champions, game modes, skins, and other items are launched on a regular basis. The weekly patch introduces a new wave of huge and little adjustments, ensuring that the game remains fresh no matter how many hours you put in. There are no two matches that are alike. Once you’ve been addicted to the game, it’s simple to justify spending $5 every now and again to improve your gaming experience. While these little purchases are inexpensive when compared to the $60 cost of a normal game, they mount up over time, particularly for long-term gamers. As they accumulate their armory of champions, many gamers wind up spending hundreds of dollars on the game over time.
The free start option is a highly appealing choice for new enterprises. Why force your prospective consumers to risk their hard-earned money on your product when you can give it a trial, hook them, and then profit from them in the long run? This isn’t only limited to free-to-play games. By providing a free sample of your goods to a consumer, you may ensure that they will have a positive attitude about you. Those that like your product will most likely become repeat consumers, and you will have established a stronger customer base. People like receiving free gifts. If you give them anything for free, they are more likely to become repeat consumers. A one-time purchase benefits your business less in the long term than a return client, and providing them the goods for free initially might lead to many more sales than the free trial cost.
The idea is to create a product or service that customers desire to use more than once. Make them want to come back. Make them want to return to you again and again for years to come. I’ve been playing League of Legends for almost two years and, despite my initial reservations, I’m still here. I just downloaded the game because a buddy requested it, and there was no risk since it was free. I became enamored with the game and rapidly violated my commitment not to buy it. Now that I’m a Riot customer (fellow summoners, if you’re searching for me after this, my name is StupidtheWise), they’ve gained themselves not just a one-time purchase of me purchasing the game, but a customer who will return and pay to better my experience. That’s the kind of client you should aim for. Consider the possibility of a free start, and keep in mind how effective it may be.
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