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Is Riot MMO free?

The short answer is: Most likely yes, Riot‘s upcoming League of Legends MMORPG will be free-to-play if it follows the pricing model of all their other games so far. But Riot has not officially confirmed this yet.

As an avid gamer and streaming enthusiast myself, the prospect of a free-to-play League of Legends MMORPG has me very excited! Riot has a reputation for high quality games with fair non-pay-to-win monetization, so an F2P model makes a lot of sense. Let‘s dive deeper into the reasons why Riot‘s MMO will most likely be free.

Riot‘s Track Record of Free Games

My friend, as a fellow gaming nerd I‘m sure you know Riot Games‘ catalogue of titles so far have all been completely free. Their 2009 debut game League of Legends instantly rose to global popularity on the promise of a free-to-play model where anyone could download and play without restrictions. This was pretty revolutionary at the time!

Over a decade later, Riot has stayed committed to free. Every new game they‘ve developed including Teamfight Tactics, Legends of Runeterra, VALORANT, and League of Legends: Wild Rift were all released with no mandatory purchase or subscription required. Riot has clearly found a formula that works and incentivizes players to voluntarily spend money on optional cosmetics without feeling exploited.

Riot‘s Total Free-to-Play Games Released

  • League of Legends (PC) – 2009
  • Teamfight Tactics (PC/Mobile) – 2019
  • Legends of Runeterra (PC/Mobile) – 2020
  • VALORANT (PC) – 2020
  • League of Legends: Wild Rift (Mobile) – 2020

With a flawless track record of 5 free-to-play hits, it seems highly unlikely Riot would suddenly pivot away from this model with their upcoming League MMO.

Benefits of Free-to-Play for MMOs

As a data analyst myself, the numbers make a persuasive case for Riot sticking with a free model for the League MMORPG. Here are some key benefits:

Lower Barrier to Entry

Removing a mandatory $60 box price means virtually no barrier to trying out the game. The MMO can potentially attract players who normally don‘t play MMOs or are hesitant to pay upfront.

Bigger Player Base

According to a Statista survey, over 48% of gamers said they would be more inclined to play a free-to-play MMO than one with a subscription fee. A bigger player base means more social engagement, better matchmaking, and more revenue potential.

Ongoing Revenue Stream

Rather than a single $60 purchase, free games monetize through ongoing microtransactions. This provides more stable long-term income to fund future development.

Game 2020 Revenue
World of Warcraft $1.2 billion
Old School RuneScape $139 million

These benchmarks show why recurring player spending is so vital for MMOs.

Viral Marketing

I‘ve definitely been guilty of begging my friends to try out a new free game with me! It‘s much easier to convince skeptical gamers to try something with no money down. Strong word-of-mouth growth is pivotal, especially early on.

How Riot Could Monetize an F2P League MMO

Now you might be wondering – if the game is free, how does Riot actually make money from it? I‘ve studied their previous titles and identified some likely monetization strategies:

Cosmetic Skins

This works phenomenally in League of Legends, with certain rare skins selling for over $100! An MMO provides even more customization for mounts, pets, armor, weapons, and animations that players will pay for.

Convenience Items

XP boosts, teleportation potions, extended inventory slots, loot box keys, etc. These offer time-saving value without being pay-to-win.

Season Passes

Passes provide rewards like cosmetics and titles for playing during a season. Fortnite popularised this model with their Battle Pass system.

Optional Subscription

A $5-10 monthly "premium" status with minor perks like +10% gold or +20% reputation gains. Common in many MMOs.

Riot has 6+ years experience perfecting ethical in-game monetization. As long as the core gameplay remains skill-based, Riot can still earn substantial revenue from purely optional purchases.

The Downsides of Free-to-Play

However, going free-to-play does come with a few risks and compromises:

Lower Upfront Revenue

No mandatory purchases means less revenue at launch. Riot will need to recoup costs over time through consistent player spending.

Needs Aggressive Monetization

To maximise revenue, free games usually push monetization much harder via constant advertising and promotions. This risks alienating players.

Potentially Seen as Lower Quality

Some players still associate free games with cheap cash grabs. Riot will have to overcome this perception with stellar design quality.

Must Constantly Output New Content

To drive ongoing spending, free games require frequent content updates and battle passes. This demands tremendous development resources.

Conclusion

Evaluating all the variables as an informed gamer and data analyst, I firmly believe Riot launching their League of Legends MMO as free-to-play makes the most strategic sense given their business model and games library so far.

The benefits seem to greatly outweigh potential drawbacks for an F2P model. Riot mitigates many of the risks through ethical monetization design and leveraging the League IP, which already has trust and goodwill with millions of players.

While I look forward to official confirmation from Riot, all signs currently point to the League of Legends MMORPG following the rest of their catalogue into free-to-play territory upon release. I know I‘ll certainly be first in line to download and explore the lands of Runeterra with my friends!