The latest figure for monthly active League of Legends players worldwide is in, and it’s a big one. Riot Games estimates over 100 million players actively play each month, as co-founders Marc “Tryndamere” Merrill and Brandon “Ryze” Beck told Polygon’s Phil Kollar in an exclusive interview this week.
The most recent figure available, from a few years ago, was an estimated 67 million monthly players. For comparison, competitor Valve announced in June that Dota 2 has over 13 million monthly unique players.
The game’s success took both co-founders by surprise, who expected League’s appeal to be niche due to the high mastery level and time commitment required to be good at the game.
“The idea that a lot of people would be pumped on that kind of experience was certainly something we didn’t predict,” Beck said. “We’ve actually had to sort of react to ‘Wow, there’s a lot of folks who are comfortable with this uncompromising game that wouldn’t spend an ounce of time on single-player or campaign.’ It was all about pouring everything we could into that competitive experience to make it as good as it could possibly be. We’ve kind of been in a reactionary mode. Just like, holy crap, the game is getting really big and we have to keep up with the demands of our players. “
Here’s another excerpt from that interview that gives you an idea of how big that 100 million number really is.
MM: I remember sending the internal e-mail when we hit 100,000 - how incredibly pumped we were. We busted out the champagne.
PK: How early in the game’s life was this?
MM: That was probably a couple months in. I should say 100,000 CCU, which is concurrent players. That was a big milestone. That blew away our wildest expectations. It’s continued to be weird.
BB: Yeah, it’s hard to parse, but at the end of the day, those things don’t even feel real. The coolest thing is actually when we’re at the live events and get to meet fans face to face. Only then does it start to feel real. Otherwise, they’re just numbers on a screen all over the world. Going and visiting a PC bang in Thailand or being at an esport tournament in Shanghai or -
MM: A LAN cafe in Turkey.
BB: Or like a meet up at a local university or something. That’s when it feels real.
You can read the whole interview with Merrill and Beck over at Polygon.