League of Legend: Why It's So Popular
When we play a game the things we pay the most attention to are the graphics, the story, and the gameplay. It's very rare that we notice or wonder about the communication strategy of the game's company or the content/lore centric culture they have adopted or even the design choices.
Since I started playing MOBAs around 2013 I've always wondered why people seem to prefer League of Legends above basically every other MOBA around. It wasn't until recently that I actually found myself analyzing every facet of the game both inside and out with a more discerning eye.
The first thing I had to understand was why people were more drawn into this game then DOTA, Heroes of the Storm or Smite, all which have better graphics and more complex interfaces.
That first question led me to reflect on the design choices and the communication strategy that the game had.
When you first open the game's client, the first thing you're presented with is an animated character art with a soundtrack specific to that character's story and background. Then you notice a visually clean interface and a very colorful, vibrant one, and different from the other MOBAs. League of Legends is not full screen which I believe makes it easier to travel through websites, information, and social networks without having to exit the game's client.
After you log in, you have the main space of the interface with featured news and the website's content generated for the community. Aside from this main space, there are your social contacts, and anything else is located on the top, including the play button. But every box and the sound they send you when you hover over them is meant to create a sense of magic, like a wand drawing a spell on the air.
The communication strategy and design choices focus on the color gold (that together with the minimalistic interface create a premium/legend feeling) and subtle light effects on the client interface. In the actual game, there are digital paintings and 3D elements full of very vibrant colors and, again, subtle light effects that give a very magical and cartoony atmosphere to the game's map, characters, and character's skills.
The second topic emerged when I realized that all these elements are made to attract people to a rich, social and competitive fantasy realm, but the main pillar that supports this whole intent is the vast lore and content behind the gameplay. Every character has its own story and its own city or origin place, that also has its own characteristics and story.
Every character is also easy to become attached primarily because their own unique look is a wholly original creation from Riot Games. In DOTA it's a basic description like "Dragon Knight" or "Vengeful Spirit", in Heroes of the Storm the names are a reference to characters in other games of the company, so if you never played another Blizzard game or didn't like them much, you will not empathize with the characters. In Smite the names are a reference to mythological gods so if you're not into mythology you more than likely will have zero interest in the game.
Every little detail in League of Legends is about getting closer to the player, being an extension of their imagination, giving them a realm that will allow them to experience and feel what it would be like to be inside an epic fantasy.