We knew that a lot of folks were playing League of Legends, the world's most popular MOBA, but we had no idea just how many of you were so dedicated to the game. According to a recent interview with some of the higher ups at Riot Games a pretty staggering figure keeps coming back for more.
The team over at Polygon recently had a chat with Riot Games co-founders Marc Merrill and Brandon Beck. According to that duo, more than 100 million people are actively playing League of Legend. To put that figure into something resembling perspective, that's about three times the number of people who live in Canada, or about a third of the population of the United States.
So, clearly, this whole MOBA thing has taken off into the stratosphere. While League of Legends may not have invented the idea of teams of five squaring off on symmetrical maps with class-based heroes, it's certainly figured out how to make the formula soar. There have been many imitators following League of Legends' success, and the DNA of MOBAs has even started to bleed into completely different genres. Overwatch is basically an FPS take on the MOBA formula and, yep, it's been hugely successful, too.
While similar games like Epic's Paragon are only just now getting rolling, a handful of other big MOBAs have managed to find decent success over the years. SMITE has a dedicated crowd of players, as do games like Heroes of the Storm and Valve's hugely popular DOTA 2. But keep in mind that, while we say DOTA 2 is "hugely popular" (and it is), they're pulling in about 13 million unique players on a monthly basis. So compare that to the 100 million quoted for League of Legends and you should start to see why that game, in particular, is still seen as an anomaly. It's that kind of success that's allowed League of Legends to basically single-handedly revive the professional gaming scene, bringing players from around the world together to compete in regular, broadcast tournaments for buckets of cash.
According to the original interview, both Merrill and Beck expected League of Legends to remain a niche game, only pulling in enough dedicated players to keep the lights on. Again, it wasn't the first MOBA on the scene and, up until that point, there was no reason to believe the wide world of gaming was ready to go ga-ga for something like League.
Maybe it's how well they've refined the formula or how frequently they provide support and updates. Maybe it was just the right game at the exact right time. For whatever reason, 100 million users is a huge benchmark, and it appears that League's popularity is only going to continue to grow.