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How League of Legends is upending the video game business

New research from Superdata reveals just how dominant Riot's multiplayer online battle arena League of Legends has become in the MMO sector, and how its success is impacting gaming as a whole

In the global MMO market, one in every eight dollars spent goes to Riot and its international partners, via League of Legends players. The game holds a 12 percent share of the market, generating $946 million so far in 2014.

League of Legends has moved up the international MMO spending league, from fourth place in 2013, to first in 2014, surpassing Nexon's Dungeon Fighter Online.


The worldwide MMO market is on track to generate $11 billion this year, growing to $13 billion by 2017, according to Superdata. MMOs now represent 21 percent of the overall digital games market.

The revenues generated by MMOs and games like League of Legends do not even begin to address the impact such games have had on gaming as a whole. The vast majority of MMO players do not pay any money to play. Only a tiny percentage pays money. Superdata points out that although League of Legends commands a huge audience, it manages to monetize a small percentage of players, in comparison to competitors like World of Tanks.

Even so, MOBA (Multiplayer Online Battle Arena) games like League of Legends continue to dominate the MMO market, growing their genre share from 16 percent to 24 percent in the last year. They have seen "spectacular growth," says Superdata, in countries like Turkey, Brazil and Russia and continue to be massive in Asia.


But although older Asian games and pay-to-play stalwarts like World of Warcraft continue to hold sway in the revenue charts, newer games from the United States are having an impact. Valve's Dota 2 has generated $136 million in 2014, moving into the top ten games. Blizzard's Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft is straight in at number 10, making $114 million since launch.

Superdata's research is included in a new analysis called MMO Market Report 2015.