Is League of Legends dying? That's the eternal question that immediately follows any popular game after its initial upwards burst of success.
League of Legends is close to celebrating its 10-year anniversary. During this decade, it has remained a stalwart pillar of PC gaming, seeing the rise and fall of countless rivals and challengers aiming to take its... well, not throne, but definitely a chair on the inner council.
League of Legends certainly doesn't capture the flighty public interest and regularly make headlines, but in some ways that can be seen as indicative of its stability: it isn't a fad that sees explosive growth and then passes from the general consciousness and dwindles into irrelevancy.
If anything, reports indicate that its player base continues to grow, reaching more than 120 million players worldwide. Furthermore, it remains as the biggest and most iconic game in esports, with more than 205 million peak concurrent viewers for the 2018 League of Legends World Championship.
Part of the perception of decline might come from as a byproduct of the English-speaking world: while it's true that overall player numbers are up, this comes mostly from steady climb in Asia, specifically China. Player numbers in the Western hemisphere are not so flattering, with particular dips in the North American servers, a region prone to flights of fancy as far as its gaming community goes.
Still, it's not doom and gloom for League of Legends. Although it might not have become a cultural phenomenon like recent competitor for the crown Fortnite, and recent news surrounding developer/publisher Riot Games has been decidedly and deservedly negative, League of Legends as a product is far from irrelevant and continues to develop, innovate and iterate to maintain a sizable and loyal fanbase.
Further, its supplementary content helps keep League of Legends in the spotlight; its foray into the virtual music industry with fictional group K/DA's POP/STARS was a triumphant success, making headlines simply as a music video and succeeding as a hit song: a remarkable achievement for what is at its core a skins advertisement.
Its other products such as the Awaken trailer similarly draw attention from the casual gaming community and continue to remind that while League of Legends doesn't dominate the public awareness in the way it may have during its initial peak, it will nevertheless remain as a consistent and steady competitor in the market.
League of Legends isn't "dying" so much as it is maturing. Most games look much worse a decade after launch, if they even live that long. League of Legends is instead stabilizing at a healthy place where it isn't the big kid on the block drawing crowds with magic tricks so much as it is an adult living in a nice suburban house with a decent car and a payable mortgage, trying to take care of a cranky parent who, yes, did help raise them but probably won't be getting any "Parent of the Year" mugs so long as they continue to suffer gastric flatulence at the dinner table.
Cover image courtesy of Riot Games