Its Season 3 championship drew more viewers than game seven of the NBA finals. It has earned its devotees university scholarships. It has pushed countless hours of daylight into moonlight and its formula has set a new standard for the gaming industry.
Riot Games' League of Legends (LoL) is a free-to-play game that has ingrained the multiplayer online battle arena (Moba) into popular culture.
In LoL, players pit their "champion" characters and minions against one another or the game's artificial intelligence. Players, or athletes, work to clear minions and turrets out of the three primary lanes on the maps to destroy their opponents' Nexuses, which brings the strategic madness to an end.
To keep 67 million players returning each month and 27 million playing each day, Riot Games has taken a simplistic approach to making LoL a success. The company listens to its community and releases content that the players want.
Riot Games co-founder Brandon Beck says his company is more concerned with growing its community, rather than moving onto another game. He said he was disappointed with developers who shift to the next money-making venture, leaving the task of keeping the previous game alive in the hands of the community.
"It was always disappointing when development teams would rush in to build the next game and neglect communities that were staying engaged with their game well after it launched," Beck said. "We wanted a company that paid attention to players like us, who wanted to play competitively and cooperatively."
Along with listening to the LoL community, Riot Games also made the game accessible to anyone with a computer capable of playing HD video.
LoL's free-to-play system allows anyone the opportunity to play the game. Riot Games makes money on LoL and tempts players with cosmetic enhancements, rather than locking essential functions into a marketplace governed by virtual currency.
"People told us when we started that if you don't charge up front, or if you're not selling extra power or stats, it won't work," said Riot Games co-founder Marc Merrill. "But that fails to account for the coolness factor. If you're really into cars, you don't mind spending $50,000 to soup up your Honda. That's the player we're tapping into."
Riot Games is said to actually lose money when it puts on its arena-filling tournament series, which pegs tickets at up to $50 each. But it's the attention Riot Games gives to its community that keeps gamers coming back, new players logging in and revenue going up.