League of Legends Director: $500 Ahri Skin for High-Spending Players

Riot recently faced backlash from League of Legends fans over the introduction of a $500 cosmetic skin, created to honor the renowned player Faker for his induction into Riot’s Hall of Legends. Many players expressed dismay that the high price excluded so many from celebrating this significant event.

During a Q&A at Summer Games Fest, game director Pu Liu addressed the issue of expensive cosmetics, indicating that Riot doesn’t intend to make it a regular practice. “I think there are people who are very upset about [the Ahri skin],” Liu said. “And I also think it’s kind of justified because when you have a 14-year-old product that starts doing new things that are expensive, when [players] are used to everything living under a certain price point, all of a sudden, it can be kind of jarring.”

In response to the controversy, League of Legends released a video explaining that the high price was intended to cover esports costs and celebrate iconic pro players. However, Riot emphasized that the majority of their bundles and skins are reasonably priced compared to other games like Overwatch and Valorant.

Liu clarified Riot’s stance on in-game purchases, emphasizing that their revenue model relies solely on cosmetic items to maintain a competitive playing field: “[League] is competitively orientated, we only sell cosmetics, we don’t want anything that even infringes upon pay to win or pay for power.”

Despite this, some cosmetics have unintentionally provided slight advantages in gameplay, resulting in certain skins being banned from professional play. However, Liu noted that such incidents are rare.

Riot acknowledges that the most expensive cosmetics, like the $500 Ahri skin, are primarily purchased by a small group of players known as “whales,” who are willing to spend significantly on games. Liu explained, “The vast majority of our revenue comes from a small, single-digit percentage of players.”

He added, “What we really think about, on the morality side, is that there are players who are willing to spend $200 a month on their hobbies. It’s really important that we capture that willingness and that ability to spend.”

While Riot offers lower-priced alternatives, such as a $40 option for the Faker celebration skin, many fans felt excluded by the steep price tag. A Reddit user commented, “Almost every League player loves Faker, and we would have loved to own the Ahri skin dedicated to him. Riot putting the full skin behind a [$500] paywall is the biggest insult imaginable to us.”

Reflecting on player spending habits, Liu expressed concern about inadvertently pushing players who don’t typically spend on League to purchase high-priced items: “If a lot of people that didn’t have a history of spending on League, all of a sudden buy the signature bundle, we’d be like, ‘Oh God, what have we done’?”

Ultimately, Riot strives to maintain a balance where their free-to-play experience remains robust relative to paid options, ensuring a fair environment for all players.

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