Free to play online game set to crest $1 billion in revenue

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SHAFAQNA (International Shia News Association) – It may seem odd to think that a free to play game is a major money-making operation, but that’s just what’s happening with League of Legends, a real-time action strategy brawler developed by Riot Games.

Riot says there are 67 million registered accounts for League of Legends worldwide. Of that, around 30 million users are active players – and while it’s completely free to play, users can spend money in a cash shop to purchase upgrades and unlock additional features like different player characters. It’s these online purchases that have driven League of Legends into such a major money-making phenomenon; not only that, but it’s a cornerstone of the rapidly growing group of competitions between players known as e-sports.

Like their more athletic counterparts, e-sports competitors often form teams, receive endorsements, and battle it out for bragging rights on a professional competition circuit. Riot Games sponsors many of these tournaments, and even though such events are incredibly expensive to produce the company is still raking in cash left and right.

It’s not just League of Legends that is played professionally, though; the impetus began with competitive first-person shooter tournaments, but the real-time strategy genre is apparently where the big money is. Games like Activison-Blizzard’s Starcraft and its sequel attract a large following, and it’s another Blizzard game – Warcraft III – that originally spawned the popularity of games such as League of Legends.

The genre is often referred to as a multiplayer online battle arena, and it began when amateur modders created a Warcraft III map known as Defense of the Ancients. Soon DoTA became a phenomenon of its own, spawning countless imitators and an official sequel of its own. League of Legends, though, remains one of the biggest – if not the biggest – MOBA to emerge from the early days of DoTA.

MOBA games offer team-based competitive gaming environments that promote strategy, teamwork and clever thinking in ways similar to other online games, and with the price of admission typically low – or nonexistent – it’s only natural that games such as League of Legends have become and remain so popular.

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