League of Legends is easily the most popular MOBA out there, with millions of players logging in to play every single day. With that being said, one thing players have been asking from Riot has been for them to change their client. However, what so many players don’t know is the truth behind why Riot can’t change the League of Legends client, at least yet.
Riot can not change the League of Legends client because of technical debt, which is the term used to refer to the cost of upholding and updating existing code. Although Riot has said they’re working on a new client, the task of creating a completely new client from scratch, especially for such a huge game like League of Legends is a monumental one.
We’ll be diving deep into the mystery of the League of Legends client issue and why Riot hasn’t changed it despite the player base asking for it for so many years.
Before going through why Riot hasn’t changed their current client, we thought it would be a good idea to go through it first. When we say League of Legends client, we’re talking about the program players use to launch and play the game. It’s used for a variety of things, such as logging into the game, managing accounts, opening items, purchasing new content, inviting friends, and, of course, launching matches.
However, the client has always been notoriously slow and buggy, often freezing at the most random of times or giving various errors like the infamous black screen error. As you can imagine, this can lead to some infuriating moments and even lost matches at times. Because of all of this, players have been on Riot’s case for years now asking for them to change the client, or at least make enough changes to get rid of the bugginess.
However, Riot has, to this day, not made any significant steps in combating the buggy client. We know it isn’t because of a lack of knowledge on their part, as the company has commented on the issue before. So then why hasn’t the client been changed yet?
Now, there are a couple of major reasons why Riot can’t change the League of Legends clients and we’ll be going in depth on both of them. One thing we have to clarify is that Riot themselves have not commented on why it’s taking so long for them to come out with a new client, though we have more than enough evidence to make some safe assumptions.
The first and likely biggest reason for Riot not changing their client is technical debt. For those unfamiliar with technical jargon, technical debt is the term used to refer to the cost of maintaining and updating existing code. In other words, the more programming and information a code has, the more difficult it is to create or update it.
As is to be expected, creating a new client is much more difficult and costly (both in terms of time and manpower) than updating an already existing client. This is especially important because you have to keep in mind that League of Legends is around a decade old at this point, and that means there’s a decade's worth of data and information the new client will need to have.
Every single time the client has been updated during this game’s lifetime, new code has been added to the already massive pile of code, making it larger and more complex every time. This means that making a new client will be much more difficult than it must have been all these years ago when the code for the current client was written.
Riot Games have already accepted this fact and have said that they’re working on a new client, but because of the aforementioned reason, we highly doubt doing it will be an easy task, especially for a game that’s as big as League of Legends.
The next point we want to make is that the current League of Legends client is already deeply integrated with the game itself. This is to be expected as the game has been using this same client for over a decade at this point, so one might argue that the game wouldn’t be able to maintain its identity without it.
Changing the client might make it so certain features of the game are affected, such as the movement speed of certain characters, the game’s stability, and how the hit registration of certain moves works. Of course, if this had been any other game then it might have been a necessary risk, but not for League of Legends.
After all, League of Legends is one of the most widely played competitive games of all time, and any changes made to the movement, hit registration, fps drops, or overall balance of the game would really have a negative impact on the player base. If it’s too bad, there’s a chance that many players might even leave the game for other substitutes such as Pokemon Unite or DOTA 2.
We believe Riot Games is also aware of this point, and as such is rather apprehensive about making any changes to the client before they’ve given the developers the necessary time to ensure nothing goes wrong.
Regardless of how big Riot Games has gotten or how much money they’ve been able to make with all of the content they put out, the fact of the matter is that the company, like any other company on the planet, has a limited amount of resources.
Creating a new client from scratch would require an insane amount of money, time, and manpower. Resources that Riot might not be able to afford at this time, especially since there are so many other projects that are being worked on such as the various spin off games and the rumored second season of Arcane.
Not to mention, the game’s player base is huge, and players have all sorts of internet speeds, device specifications, and gaming preferences. Before anything about the client changes, it’s important for everything to be tried and tested. Isolating a part of the player base would be much more damaging to the company than delaying the launch of a new client would after all.
Now, the fact of the matter is that this testing can take lord knows how long. Because of the sheer number of tests they would have to do, a safe assumption would be the testing process would take anywhere between several months to over a year. This might sound like a bit of a stretch, but when over 117 million players are playing monthly, there’s a lot of testing to be done if you want to ensure everyone’s able to run the client smoothly.
Now, with how many years it is been since League of Legends has been around, it’s only natural that the player base has come out with several third party companion applications. No, we don’t mean those that allow you to cheat, but the harmless ones that increase your enjoyment of the game, such as giving you the ability to change the skin of your character.
Although Riot might at first seem to be against the usage of such third party applications, the fact of the matter is that some players have worked hard on these third party applications. However, since the implementation of a new client has the potential to make it so these apps would no longer be compatible, Riot might be delaying it. After all, this would make the game much less accessible for many players out there.
Additionally, there’s also the matter of compatibility with other versions of League of Legends. Riot has stated in the past that they’re also working on versions of the game on other devices and consoles, with cross platform between these platforms being a given.
However, with the implementation of a new client, not only would the PC version of the game be impacted, but the console and potentially mobile versions of the game would be impacted as well. With how long the development team has been working on the console versions of the game, this would make a major dent in their work and increase their workload by a lot.
As we’ve mentioned many times in this article before, the player base of League of Legends comes from all over the world. Therefore, it’s a given that different parts of the world also speak different languages. After all, the current client also offers various language options to make the game more accessible for the players.
However, with a new client will come the issue of needing to have every single message translated again. Every feature, option, and message, regardless of how minor they might be to the game or players, will have to be translated again into every language offered.
Now, some of you might be thinking that they should launch the English version first and then slowly push out the other language options, but that really wouldn’t work. Although it’ll eventually fix the issue, it would also isolate a VERY large segment of the player base in the process. Imagine having to play a game without understanding a single word of it. We don’t know about you, but it doesn’t sound fun to us.
Because of this, Riot Games would have to go through the extremely time consuming and expensive process of translating everything before they even think of launching a new client for League of Legends.
The last point we want to make might sound a little silly at first, but the more you read the more it’ll make sense. Some of you might remember when Riot Games changed the League of Legends cursor without warning the player base about it. If you remember this, you might also remember how much resistance they were met with.
As a matter of fact, so many prominent players were speaking out against the new forceful cursor update that Riot Games eventually caved in and gave players the option to switch to the old cursor if they wanted.
Now, imagine if the same thing happens with the new client, and various players end up resisting the update and asking for the old client. The thing with clients is that they’re much different than cursors. To give players the option to switch between the old and new clients, they would have to put in a bunch of time, money, and manpower in ensuring both clients are updated simultaneously every single time which isn’t feasible for the long run.
However, if they DON’T give players this option, then they might risk isolating a portion of the player base. That portion will feel as though the developers don’t care about their opinions and eventually lose interest in the game.
Now that you know why League of Legends hasn’t been changing its client, what does this mean for the players? Well, although Riot Games have said that they’re working on a new client, you really shouldn’t expect it to be implemented or even announced any time soon because of all the reasons we listed above.
However, we do hope Riot decides to make the current client more user friendly and less buggy in the mean time, so that the players that have been asking for a new client can be satisfied at least.
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