Grinding in Video Games, a League of Legends Perspective

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There are many games out there that like to try this “mechanic” to keep their player base attached for a long time. Grinding in Video Games means that you need to do a repetitive action to unlock certain parts of a game. This proses can take between a couple of minutes or stretch to reach a couple of days. Now, is it necessary for the development team to add this kind of mundane tasks to their games to be successful? Does it leave positive repercussions to their audience? What is the “trick” behind these procedures? I’ll try to clarify the answers to all these questions and give you a little more insight behind the mind of a “greedy” developer.

At the same time, I’ll try to clarify what methods does League of Legends contain in the game. With a comparison between its mechanics and similar implementations from other video games. With this knowledge, you’ll be able to spot some shady mechanics from developers before they get into you. See if its worth the hours that you’ll probably need to spend to complete some task or ignore the game. We all are gamers that seek to pass some hours of our free time with something worth sharing. It this is not the case, then why we should even bother playing one boring game; when we have the chance to play better ones.

The Act of Grinding

This kind of mechanic became famous with the different “MMOs” (Massively Multiplayer Online) games out there. In these games, you needed to kill a certain number of monsters to achieve specific objectives, like for example: Leveling up your character, one particular item, complete a quest. If you didn’t comply with these chores, you aren’t able to progress in the game. At first, you are given easy tasks to complete: kill ten monsters to level up. After a couple of hours, the numbers begin to rise: destroy thirty enemies to complete a quest. Finally, the “end game” wants you to burn half of your life: a specific monster has a 0.0001% chance to drop a legendary sword, go get it.

Let’s say you just bought a new MMO game called “The World of Grinding Adventures 2.” You wait for it to download and install afterward. Let it run and take about two hours in creating the best character that looks like you. You press “continue,” and the first cutscene from the game starts running. “Mr.N1c3G” (your character) appears on the screen with his trusty sword and wooden shield. A pop-up message suddenly comes up, telling you that Mr.N1c3G just got an invitation from the Realm’s Prince and you need to run there ASAP. With the aid of the “arrow keys,” your character maneuvers between open fields and gardens until you reach the entrance of a big castle. “Hang in there!” says a guard, stopping any more progress. “I cannot let you pass into the castle. Unless you kill 100 wasps on the gardens!”

Is this somehow fun to the players?

Geek Gala QuestDepends on the game itself and at the end, you’re the judge yourself. But there’s always some tendencies that cannot are too much to bear. You have already seen it in one of those video games that in the middle of everything, it stops being fun. After repeating the same thing over and over again, it starts to lose its spark. There are other video games though that this mechanic doesn’t feel like a chore at all. Time goes by, and the rewards that it gives after all that much work kind of feel acceptable. Grinding in Video Games needs to be implemented accordingly, in case that the development team wants more longevity to their games but never lose the fun of it.

Let’s review this kind of “mechanic” in League of Legends. We all know that there is no limit on how many matches we can have in a day. The more you try to improve your winning rate, the more you can get in the game. Champions remain locked behind its economy, the more you play, the higher is the chance to unlock what you want. Cosmetics have somewhat the same system, but there’s a low chance to get what you want unless you invest some money in the game. It may look shady, but to begin with, this is a “free to play” game. Cosmetics may look flashy and stuff, but you can play at full potential without them. They don’t give unfair advantages.

When is it enough?

We can all agree that when a game is no longer fun and feels more like an unrewarding job, its time to leave it behind. We are now in a time where we can conveniently discuss elements that some video games tend to lack. Create some trends about the unwanted tendencies that some companies try to implement (hello there Microtransactions), and “speak” with our wallets. Tools like Reddit can create a powerful communication between the player base and the development team to create harmony. If some foolish company feels a little over the top and shoves anything they feel is the “best” for us, they’ll soon feel the impact themselves. And sooner or later this Grinding in Video Games will decrease its effect on our beloved games.

Let’s continue with our beloved character Mr.N1c3G. After dealing with all those wasps. You return to the guard and tell him the news about your last endeavor. He now lets you pass through, and you reach to the throne in no time. The prince though is not impressed with your attire and ineffective weapons. To gain the Prince trust, he asks you to gain experience by killing around 500 wolves around the high fields. Feeling a little bit curious about the possible quest that you’ll get next in the game, you accept the request. You load some music to keep you awake and venture to the vast fields to fulfill this task.

After wasting 5 hours doing the same thing over and over again, you go back to the Prince to check what may come next. He acknowledges your work and gives you a briefing for the next assignment — this time he shares his concern about a possible attack of a nearby Dragon and he’s asking a valiant champion to go and kill it. The thing though is that only a peculiar magical spear can pierce through the creature’s skin. That spear got stolen by a random thief, and to get it back; you’ll have to slaughter 2000 thieves to find it.

You now take out the game, throw it to the garbage and play something else.

Reward Systems

Reward SystemsAfter all that tedious work that you had to pass through, there is nothing better than receiving an honorable reward. We video gamers only want to obtain more entertainment from those video games that we like. Taking that into consideration, we wait for the developers to take into account what gaming mechanics are there to be fun and not exploited with more money in mind. It’s a no-brainer, we can see when the developers only aim for our wallets from miles away. One real hint in this new triple “A” era is when we see microtransactions that give us advantages in games. Some games ask for a couple of bucks (after the usual $60) in exchange for some “experience boost” or “in-game materials” to progress faster. It feels like we now pay for the “Konami Code.

Anyways, you may be asking right now what types of rewards we can expect from the current games. There can be useful sometimes or wrong, like before, you’ll always be the judge of that. They are usually divided into specific groups as follows:

RNG (Random Number Generator) Reward

After a couple of hours playing the same game and doing similar chores over and over. The video game finally rewards you with “something.” Some “loot box” that can either have something useful inside or total garbage. You cannot know what reward it would be until you “open” the price. This “trend” became famous thanks to the uprise of the mobile video games. Where unlocking a single character or items requires too much time or some cash. In the full price video games, it feels like the hardest obstacle to complete the game is not the last boss, but the lower odds from these “rewards.”

We all know that League of Legends is no strange when it comes to Grinding in Video Games. If you don’t want to spend some cash in the game, it’ll take a lot of time to complete the full roster. You have the option to spend money, in other games (especially the triple “A”), you’re always behind a paywall. “Overwatch” for example, requires for you to buy the game first and gives you the option for “loot boxes” later on. If you want a particular skin in this game, you’ll probably need a lot of luck or add $20 to your account.

Leveling up

Another way to reward your efforts is to give you some progress in the game, this time by leveling up or giving you better “gear” you’re one step closer to beat the game. The amount of progress depends on the game itself; sometimes this can be exploited by the development team in awful ways. Like for example, to level up your character, you’ll probably need to complete ~20 quests. After finishing that many tasks, another part of the game unlocks for you, where you’ll need another ~20 quests to move on. This type of progress can either be a great formula on a video game or the opposite. If you were one of those gamers that gave the first Assassins Creed a try, you’d probably understand this point. Thankfully, the new versions of the franchise are improving in this gaming mechanic.

League of Legends uses this type of method to add more champions to your collection. The more times you level up your account, the more shards you can have. The “quests” here can translate to matches, the more you play the game, the more you can unlock. This type of progress is easily exploited by all those players that have the luxury of playing the game more than 4 hours a day.

Free to Play vs. Full Price

Due to recent changes in the gaming industry, one proper question rises above all: What advantages do I have by paying a full price game? Now even $60 for a games feels like you’re paying for just the “demo” version. With all those seasons passes and limited editions, it seems like you need more than $100 to get the full experience. Plus, with the new wave of Microtransactions, the amount of cash needed to unlock everything can even feel endless. With every patch that comes with the game, other items require more money to unlock.

You can justify this type of behavior to keep the game running and support the “devs.” Everyone is free to spend their income, but no one likes those intrusive Microtransactions in our games. If we want to change these types of video game business, there’s no other way to give our opinions but with our wallets.

Let’s go a little deep and see how can the gaming business change between projects:

Mobile Games

It seems that the Mobile Gaming genre is getting some strength form the recent years. This kind of games made the “free to play” formula, somehow appealing to the public. Within minutes, you’re able to enjoy any video game that you came across the Mobile Store, see if it suits you. If this wasn’t the case, you can easily uninstall the game and try for another option. Everything kind of looks so freaking amazing, until you start to see what lies behind the hype.

These games are usually plagued with Microtransactions, though they aren’t needed to play with everything that it has to offer. The downside is that they usually prevent to go further in the game unless you wait for a couple of hours or pay. Is that simple, you always have some “energy” that depletes with every “action” you make. The more actions, the more you’ll have to wait to continue later on.

Free to Play Games

Free to Play GamesThese types of games try to emulate the business model from mobile games and place them in other consoles/PCs. They usually let you play the entire game for free, but they still have Microtransactions. This time though is not that intrusive, and it regularly asks money for some “cosmetic” items. In other words, you only need to pay some money if you’ll like your characters look a bit shinier.

League of Legends remains with the same formula over the years. Its take on Grinding in Video Games seems to be a little harsh comparing it with the new free to play games. We still don’t know if somewhere in the future, the requirements for the champion shards will ever change. The player base doesn’t seem to mind. They all agree that this is the best take for this game. Riot in exchange tries to release more champions every year and continue with innovate abilities that could change the “META.

Triple “A” Games

It seems that the only line that can differentiate these types of games with the mobile ones is the initial price tag. Some games aren’t even that fun or lengthy in comparison with the other platform. Besides the characteristics as mentioned above, some of these games cant keep the excitement for replayability. But still, some games contain astonishing graphics and innovate gaming mechanics. Plus, we get to play with better peripherals that give us more control in the actions that we take. Taking all this into consideration, we are still uncomfortable with all those shady business methods. It has gone too far this time that some governments are investigating gambling issues in video games. “Loot Boxes” only create polemic whenever they are present, and we hope that they banish soon.

“Get out of Jail” Card

After all that paying walls we just reviewed about video games, there are some ways to keep the game running. These methods are usually acquired by the player to continue in his/her enjoyment in the “free to play” genre. We already had an in-depth discussion with the destructive ways of the Microtransactions in these types of games so that we can leave it rest for now. Still, though, other techniques can help you boost your gaming experience and keep the fun coming.

Starting Bundles

After you have installed one of those fascinating “free to play” games, you may probably get an instant notification. This message that appears on your screen contains some welcome words and some goodies that can help you in landing your feet. They usually are some offers (around $5) that give you extra currency that only works in that beautiful game. Even though it looks incredible, this particular package can only be redeemed once by a single account. There is no other goal from these packages but to start the addiction. It will always be there, waiting for you to invest your first transactions into the game.

Recently we saw this offer in the League of Legends store. The “New Player Pack” gives you the chance to unlock five champions and some extra stuff to make things brighter for you. Even in this package, we get to see some “RNG.” between the random ward and the possible skin. Once you get the package and discover its contents, there is no turning back. Just hope for the best. Luckily, the random elements of the pack are just cosmetics, which it won’t give any advantage in the game. When it comes to gameplay, we all get the same thing.

Merchandise/Social Media Promotion

There are some games out there (almost all the mobile games) that make you see some advertisement for the exchange of their premium currency. There is no hiding about this matter; you have to watch some youtube videos about other products, and you’ll soon get your reward. The more time you waste in these videos, the more premium currency you’ll have. Even though this looks kind of “cool,” we can’t help but feel like we’re doing the devil’s work. They receive some real money “cents” for our wasted time, while we get some virtual currency that is worthless outside the game.

Another way they to use their player base for their gain is through social media. Some video games give you the option to “like” their game’s Facebook page or “follow” their Tweeter. When you comply with this obnoxious endeavor, you’ll probably get some in-game rewards in exchange. After you finally get those gifts though, you are free to retract your doings and dislike/unfollow anything. If it helps you in cleaning your well-being, don’t think it twice and “dislike” it.

With the recent news about advertisement in the Street Fighter game, we can see the developers intentions. If you comply and do what the want from you, they’ll give you extra rewards. If you want to be a renegade and block all that shady garbage, you’ll get less premium currency from the game.

Seasons Pass

Besides the world of Mobile gaming, full price games tend to use some strategy to give some advantage. We already discussed the simplicity of paying the regular $60 for a triple “A” game. The less you contribute to a single game, the less content you’ll get. To make things worse, some developers try to use the “seasons pass” to give some advantage in your game. Making the extra package more appealing to their player base. Sometimes they change the name to “annual pass” to leech more money out of your pockets until you have nothing left. Sometimes though, this type of business model can be a success in a video game.

The formula to win about this approach is to give more than take. Players that want to support the work of a gaming company need to feel appreciated. Because in the long run, without your player base, any video game company won’t last that long. Anything that can make the Grinding in Video Games nothing like a chore is better for the company’s image. And the memories of that particular video game will always be positive.

Time vs. Money

Time vs. MoneyWhit all those types of the gaming business, it all comes to this. You always have the options to burn almost all your free time in a single game or spend some cash to progress quicker. We all know that according to your age, the income may vary. Some kids of teenagers have a little more free time to share in these games, while the adults aren’t that lucky. To compensate for the lack of freedom, we may need to reduce the thickness of our wallets to keep the pace. This system although it may be unfair to the young population can sustain a “free to play” game in a long time; especially on those types of software that contain some competition gaming mechanics.

Even single player games have the option for competitive gameplay. The developers need to add some leaderboards across different parts of their games. With a little information, you can compare the effectiveness of your gaming skills and how difficult a video game may be to your friends. This type of mechanic is why the “social media” stuff can be important for any games. After you link your accounts, the game can obtain some information about you and your friend list. At the same time, compare the scores and put you and your social connections in a list to see who is the best.

With the recent news about Facebook though, this can be dangerous. Without even knowing it, this social media was able to share too much information with shady companies. Their primary goal was just pure advertising. The more they know about us, the more accurate they can be to place some products for us to buy. Behaviors like these make it easier to spot those companies that don’t care for their customers at all.

League of Legends Formula

There are different aspects that Riot games use to add longevity to their unique video game. In League of Legends, we get to experience a little piece of everything that I shared with you in this article. At first, they (thankfully) established the “free to play” feature. Almost everything in the game can be unlocked by just playing a few matches from time to time. The more time you share to the game, the more options you’ll have to open more champions. This unlocking progression may feel a little old if you compare the recent games from the same genre.

Nevertheless, it still proves that it can be useful when it comes to maintaining their player base. A new player can have the incentive to unlock as much as he/she can in the champion roster, hoping to get the preferred ones (Like Caitlyn for example). On the other hand, a veteran player may feel a little more attached to his/her account because it was hard work to obtain the champions on their list.

Smurfs

After all that hard work in a single account, there may come the time that you’ll require more options. But you already know the essential stuff and probably know how tedious it is to start from scratch. Do not fear though; some cool websites can help you skip those moments. In a matter of minutes, you can set up a different path for you to discover. These accounts can also help you to ease the burden. Your main account may be on top of the ranks, and you know how stressing it may be to play another match. So change to another account where your level may be lower, but it won’t require your full concentration to win. You still have the option to brag about the different accounts that you were able to get in the higher positions.

Final Words

ConclusionThe gaming industry is ever changing with every year that passes by. Long gone are the ways that “Id Software” established their peculiar ways of gaming distribution. Where they shipped a demo of their games in floppy disks if you liked the game, you made some calls, and the rest of the game was sent to you. Now everything can be done over the Internet. With just the magic of some correct numbers, and your credit card can give you more games for you to download. This type of distribution made the gaming industry more profitable. It won’t be strange that in the next year the game’s “physical disks.” disappear for good, and console gamers will only get an empty shell with a downloading code.

At the same rate, the multiplayer feature in games no longer requires that it would only be available with friends in a single room. Now everyone has the chance to “gather” online and play some matches in the luxury of their home. Sometimes your “online friends” can even live across the World and have a good time. Thanks to this progress, games like League of Legends was able to establish an entertaining way to spend a few hours of our free time.

Also, with the inclusion of the Mobile Stores, developers had it more comfortable to distribute their software. To the point that you can discover their games quickly in the store, and enjoy their creations in a matter of minutes. Grinding in Video Games became the best formula that aids the “free to play” genre and made this way profitable. Because you cannot have “Grinding” without “Microtransactions.” These two mechanics made a strong bond that may survive with us for a couple of years to come.

Hope you grew in knowledge a little bit more about gaming through this article. There’s nothing left for me to “write” but to give you the best wishes for the upcoming days — happy holidays from the LoLfinity team.

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