League of Legends isn’t exactly known for being one of the most balanced games in the market. Those who aren’t familiar with the game may be skeptical about the skin economy and cash shop that might provide an unfair advantage. The big question that players may ask about the game is if there’s any part that makes League of Legends pay to win. The question to that isn’t simply yes or no because there are sensitive areas that some people might not understand right away.
What Makes a Game Pay to Win?
Before we discuss the matter of whether or not League of Legends pay to win issue is real or not, let’s talk about what makes a game P2W. A game is pay to win when it offers items or services that give boosts (regardless of whether it’s minor or major) in exchange for real-life currency. No matter how small the boost, the game is considered pay to win because it instantly offers an unfair advantage to the players with more money to spend on the game.
Most games incorporate things like paid item sets, loot boxes, battle passes that offer exclusive rewards, cosmetic items that contain bonus stats, and subscriptions to passive bonuses. Even if there were alternate ways to acquire these products and services, it doesn’t change the fact that the person who can pay money will instantly be able to acquire them and be able to utilize those perks without the need to spend as much time as the free-to-play user.
Is League of Legends Pay to Win?
League of Legends in the early stages was definitely pay to win because of the old rune mechanic. Back in the day, players could purchase runes using RP, which gave bonus stats. In addition, runes couldn’t be changed in-game, so players needed to purchase multiple rune pages if they want to be able to play champions decently using the stats that they need. That mechanic made League of Legends pay to win, but they reworked it after some time.
Nowadays, League of Legends has removed everything that can make it pay to win. They try not to add anything that will give players an advantage in terms of in-game boosts, but some mechanics have unintentionally become pay to win. Of course, it’s not exactly as bad as other games’ pay to win mechanics, but we already mentioned that it doesn’t matter how small or big the difference it makes as long as it can affect the gameplay. Here are some examples of pay to win features:
1. Pay to Win Skins
Skins are League of Legends primary source of income and with so many of them, there have been some designs that offered an unfair advantage. Unlike other games, cosmetics in League of Legends don’t really add anything other than aesthetic value but there are times the designers go overboard which can affect the game. This is by changing the champion’s ability animations due to the skin’s design that can offer an unfair advantage.
A good example of a pay to win skin is Lux’s Steel Legion design which makes all her abilities a little bit harder to see. This means that skill shots are harder to dodge and her overall hit rate increases without the opponent even realizing the subtle difference that the cosmetic makes in the game. These skins are so unfair that Riot Games has them officially banned in esports tournaments to prevent pros from gaining advantages from them.
2. Champion Availability
This isn’t really that much of an issue, but having a wider champion pool is definitely an advantage. Of course, having every champion in the game or even just having a wide champion pool is not really an advantage if the player doesn’t have a deep mastery over every champion in the game. However, if we were to put things in perspective, the player who has a wider champion pool is able to learn how to play more champions whenever they liked.
It’s not one of the worst types of pay to win features in any video game, but many players are bothered by the fact that they can’t play the champions they want and it’s extremely difficult to find a way to get the resources needed to purchase them. Nowadays, Blue Essence is such as difficult resource to farm that you simply can’t blame people for using RP to purchase the champions they need instead of waiting months just to complete their roster.
Can You Play League of Legends Even If You Don’t Spend Money?
Absolutely. League of Legends isn’t a game that’s hindered by your ability to spend money or not. Most of the game is skill-based and even those minor P2W factors that we discussed won’t really have any major effect in your experience. League of Legends may have some P2W features, but it’s one of the friendliest games for F2P users who can’t spend any of their resources on the game aside from their time.
From champion collection to skin acquisition, players can farm out all of these things by simply playing the game. They can even get the most expensive items on the shop by getting them from Hextech Chests. If you’re looking for a game where everybody starts and ends on equal footing, League of Legends is definitely a game that will meet your expectations. These don’t make League of Legends pay to win.
How Does Riot Games Earn Profit?
Riot Games mostly earns their profit from cosmetics. The skin economy is extremely large with players around the world regularly purchasing skins that they like. Even though Riot Games has introduced multiple ways to get skins for free, the players still spend money so that they can get the skins that they want immediately without having to wait for the chance to get it.