It has been a pretty bad morning for Riot Games, the people responsible for League of Legends, probably the biggest game on the planet right now.
Today, Riot started what will become a quarterly update blog called Riot Pls. (An in-joke that refers to how the players of League implore Riot to do, or not do, various things.) This blog started off courteously enough, though one announcement had players, both professional and casual, up in arms.
That announcement from Pwyff at Riot was regarding Riot's position on a potential Sandbox mode, where players would be able to practice and hone important gameplay skills. This could be anything from flashing over walls to getting initiates down correctly. The blog explained their stance as such:
We want to make sure we’re clear: playing games of League of Legends should be the unequivocal best way for a player to improve. While there are very real skills one can develop in a hyperbolic time chamber, we never want that to be an expectation added onto an already high barrier to entry.
So, the guys at Riot want players to practice their skills by playing in live games. There's a point to that. However, it's a bad point, really. League has become so huge that it attracts loads of new players all the time. Some of these players will have never played a MOBA before, or even a PC game.
As Pwyff himself acknowledged, the game already has a pretty high entry barrier. Why not try to lower it by providing a sandbox where players can learn the very basics? There's the co-op vs ai mode, but that can still feel like a bunch of pressure for the uninitiated.
After the internet exploded on Riot in backlash, Pwyff took to Reddit to try and extinguish the flames. Poorly.
In a game that's oriented around players playing to improve, imagine a world where you miss one flash over a wall and your whole team tells you to quit and hop into sandbox mode?
They feel that a sandbox mode would only add a layer of negativity to the game. It's already common, in ranked play, for a player to make diparaging remarks to a teammate performing poorly. These remarks can range in variety, but a common one is to encourage the player to play normal games instead of ranked ones.
What this statement is saying is that Riot is catering more to the vocal minority of toxic players in the game, letting their behavior dictate what does and does not get included into the game. It's weak behavior, and it isn't the right way to respond to the qualms people have with this policy.