Riot Games president Marc Merrill doesn't take insults lightly. After gamers accused the League of Legends studio of being greedy, Merrill defended his company with a stern, profane reply.
Players took to Reddit yesterday to complain that Riot wasn't creating a new League of Legends client for Season 4 of competitive play. They also criticized the studio for shutting down player efforts to create custom clients. The user-made clients squelched by Riot include Wintermint, a program said to use 80% less memory than the official LoL client.
The conversation led to broader gripes about the company. One user said that Riot has become "very, very greedy." He cited the rising price of the game's microtransactions and new restrictions on refunds as examples of the company's "money-hungry" nature. These attacks drove Merrill to chime in.
"It's pretty frustrating when people try to position us as greedy," Merrill said. He pointed out that Riot created one of the most popular free online games in the West. Even if you do spend money, Merrill says, LoL is still far cheaper than most other forms of entertainment including films, books and other games. Furthermore, Riot spent millions of dollars creating an eSports scene and an ad-free TV show.
"We do all this because Ryze and I are gamers. Always have been, always will be. We play the shit out of League of Legends. When servers go down, we flip out. When we don't deliver on something we promised, we flip out (Magma chamber where?) and change the world internally. When we overreach on legal language with eSports contracts to prevent competitors from paying our pros to promote their games, we acknowledge the error and change it immediately."
Merrill added that Riot thinks about finances differently than other developers. Companies like Zynga focus on how to boost the average revenue per player. Riot, however, focuses on making the game as fun as possible and keeping players' attention.
"So, no offense - but I completely disagree with your greed accusation and yes, it pisses me off because I've spent the last 8 years of my life building this company, game and team to deliver great value and to treat players well - and largely because the Rioter to player ratio has changed from like 1:5,000 to 1:50,000, our core message and passion is being diluted," Merrill said. "So, thanks for the additional reminder we need to do better at explaining who we are. But FUCK me if I don't allow a little emotion to slip in when the takeaway is so utterly wrong for who we are as a company."
League of Legends has become a global sensation over the past few years. The game now attracts over 32 million monthly players. While many of those players don't spend a dime, it's estimated that Riot takes in $200 million annually. Accusations of greed, deserved or not, come with the territory. It's almost impossible to earn that much money and not get accused of caring about money. If you do call Riot greedy, though, don't be surprised if Riot responds.
Season 4 of League of Legends will launch later this year and culminate with a global championship in Korea in the fall. While Riot hasn't released a new client for the upcoming season, Merrill says that they are working on improvements.
"We have talked to the author of Wintermint (and other cool client projects) and our first thought is to collaborate and potentially hire these creative, talented and passionate LoL players who want to help us develop great things for our players. These discussions continue."