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League of Legends draws more daily players than Zynga's biggest hits
 League of Legends  draws more daily players than Zynga's biggest hits
October 12, 2012 | By Eric Caoili

How popular is Riot Games free-to-play PC game League of Legends? It has 12 million daily active players -- that's more than Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3, World of Warcraft, or any social game on Facebook.

The most popular game on Facebook, Zynga's FarmVille 2, draws only 8 million daily users, according to AppData. World of Warcraft currently has a little over 10 million subscribers, while Modern Warfare 3, one of the biggest console releases ever, at its peak hit 3.3 million daily players.

And thanks to microtransactions for purchasing playable characters and items, League of Legends is also likely generating a lot of revenue from those players -- Ngmoco GM and free-to-play expert Ben Cousins estimates that the core-targeted game grosses $5-10 million every day.

Unlike most free-to-play social or casual games, League of Legends is still growing rapidly three years after its launch, too. The game's daily user count was just 4.2 million last November, and its monthly active player numbers also increased from 11.5 million back then to now 32 million.

That's nearing the number of paid subscribers to Xbox Live, which is about 40 million. Riot, a U.S.-based subsidiary of China's Tencent Holdings, also claims that when looking at total hours played per month (1 billion per month on average) by all users, League of Legends is "the most played video game in the world."

The developer shared more stats about League of Legends and its community in an infographic published Thursday night.

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Michael Wenk
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5-10 million a day? I highly doubt that. Why? If they were pulling in around 3 billion a year, they would be acting a lot different than they are. That money would have to go somewhere. And while I'm sure they're doing well, I don't think they're doing that well.

Robert Boyd
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5-10 million a day would be a monthly ARPU of $4.69-$9.38. Seems awfully high. What's the typical monthly ARPU for a successful freemium game?

Robert Carter
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The money is going somewhere. They are currently hiring people as fast as they can from what I can see. Rumor is they might even be working on another game, which would take vast amounts of resources. Growing a company without seeking investors and without using publishers is more expensive than most realize.

I'm confused by how you think they "would be acting a lot different than [how] they are" currently though. How would you expect them to act?

Robert Boyd
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Yeah, League of Legends had probably a bigger presence at PAX this year than any other company. They basically rented half a floor just for the big tournament and they had LoL stuff elsewhere as well. They obviously have money.

Zach Grant
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They are holding world championships for their own game. The monetary logistics for that must be quite large. Not to mention they are providing the 2 million dollar purse themselves. You can only have so many cooks in the kitchen when making a game. At some point throwing more dollars and employees at LOL wouldn't work.

Michael Wenk
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"I'm confused by how you think they "would be acting a lot different than [how] they are" currently though. How would you expect them to act?'

I would expect more expansion. More games, more facilities. Yes, I see they are hiring, but they're still relatively small, especially for a company with that much projected revenue. And I'd be expecting more press, especially mainstream press on Riot.

At the very least I would have expected their world championship prize pool to be a ton higher than it was. Yes, I realize 2 million is a lot of money. But at 5-10 million a day, that's anywhere from 1.8 to 3.6 BILLION dollars, and that means the pool was around 0.05% of their revenue and that strikes me as low.

Now, I'm not saying Riot's poor. I doubt that. But they are not behaving like a billion dollar company. I'd expect their yearly revenue to be good, but not THAT good.

Cody Miracle
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Considering Riot is building their own arena in California for their Season 3 championship series, where they are putting top tier teams on Salary and hosting weekly tournaments, as well as putting the prize pools together for IPL and MLG tournaments, they definitely use their money.

They are also getting Season 3 televised, so I'm sure a lot of money is going into that as well. They also bought out and several other urls, hinting at a new game potentially.

Nooh Ha
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Remember, as a wholly owned subsidiary of Tencent (a company listed on the HK stock exchange), Riot's revenues are included in Tencent's quarterly filings, if not explicitly stated. In its most recently reported quarter (to end June) Tencent's games division reported around RMB5.56bn (US$880m) in revenue. Tencent is China's largest games publisher operating in the mobile, MMOG and social network markets so to suggest $10m a day would produce more revenue than Tencent actually reports. Even $5m a day would represent more than half Tencent's total quarterly games revenues which IMO is unrealistic given the extent of its other MMO business (it operates some massive titles in China) as well as its social network and mobile games. It is also worth noting that LoL gets no mention in Tencent's quarterly highlights (

Ramin Shokrizade
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I don't think making successful games like this is all that difficult. The complexity of LoL is much lower than what we achieved in Shattered Galaxy (the first MMORTS) in 2001. If companies would stop chasing both Blizzard and Zynga, there might be some investment dollars left over to make more games like this. Competing with simple games does not require a lot of money either, since the barrier to entry is relatively modest. The Facebook bubble sucked so much investment money out of non-FB game development in the last year that we are going to see a real shortage of titles available for other platforms. This means reduced competition and great profit potential for those that did not go the FB (or mobile, since that is flooded also) route.

Eric McVinney
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This. A thousand times "THIS" :)

Adam Rebika
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Can't agree more.

Kellam Templeton-Smith
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I agree...but they are chasing Blizzard. They're even chasing a Warcraft title, just not World Of.

Derek Poole
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They're not a small company at all. They originally started small and then LoL exploded. So although they are aggressively hiring, I think that they are taking their next steps cautiously and thoughtfully. From what I've gathered, they're trying to turn LoL into more of a AAA game, as well as working on a new game.

Luis Blondet
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Wait for Zynga's next hit: LegendVille.

Adam Bishop
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How many of these players are in non-Western markets? The numbers are somewhat interesting just to give a general idea about how the game is doing, but I don't think the comparisons hold up if you're comparing games in markets with vastly different populations. Does LoL have anywhere close to the number of active users in North America/Europe as Call of Duty or World of Warcraft? I would be extremely surprised if that was the case.

Jeremie Sinic
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The game has been consistently at the top of Korea's PC bang (cyber cafes) most played games ranking for 12 weeks now (roughly 20% of the total, in other words 1 in 5 PC bang gamers playing it).
I wonder if it's going to be called "the new Starcraft" some day, but it's pretty big already.

David Fried
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It should also be pointed out that Tencent purchased Riot Games for 400 million USD.
Riot is no longer independent... However, for a Chinese company like Tencent to invest THAT much into purchasing a company. Their income had to be incredibly significant. Such that the fear of not being able to compete with LoL in China, and thus get a piece of the pie with a competing product, forced them to buy Riot outright.

Curtiss Murphy
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As fast as they've grown, $400M was a steal. Their success could be the thing that makes E-Sports a household term. The quality of events, announcers, and pro-teams is improving so drastically, that Season 3 will likely see significant coverage on mainstream networks (FOX, CNN, ESPN). Personally, the Championship coverage was equal or better quality than many televised events and I would have watched it on my TV, if it had been available.

Kudos to them for having the best free-to-play model in the gaming industry. The entire game IS free; there's no pay-to-win button; and yet, a purchase makes the experience more fun. I'm a fan.