In brief: The League of Legends franchise is home to some of the most successful PC (and now, multi-platform) games ever released -- particularly League itself, the classic MOBA that never seems to stop receiving updates. To quantify that success, developer Riot Games has taken to Twitter to show off its latest player numbers. Across the entire League (AKA Runeterra) family of games, Riot pulled in 180 million active players in October alone.
That's a massive number, and it even surpasses the lifetime sales of huge releases like Grand Theft Auto V. Rockstar's satirical action title hit 150 million lifetime sales in August, but Leagues user numbers are counted monthly. Granted, League is free-to-play, whereas GTA V is still a $30 product.
Anyway, while Riot didn't clarify how it calculates monthly players in its milestone tweet, it did offer a few details to PC Gamer. First, all League of Legends games are factored in here: League of Legends, its mobile version known as Wild Rift, card battler Legends of Runeterra, auto battler Teamfight Tactics, and "Fight for the Golden Spatula," which is the Chinese variant of TFT.
Furthermore, Riot says "monthly players" refers to anyone that boots up one of their games. If the same person plays all five of the games mentioned above, they would count as five active players for Riot's calculations.
In other words, "180 million players" is perhaps not entirely accurate if we think of those players as unique individuals. However, it's still an impressive figure.
Thank you to our global community for helping Runeterra reach new heights! 180 million players in October and still growing! pic.twitter.com/7w9goYBeBM— Riot Games #RiotXArcane 💥 (@riotgames) November 1, 2021
The studio has built this global franchise from the ground up over roughly 12 years. As of 2018, the team employed around 2,500 workers, which is likely why it has been able to branch out into new genres recently. If you went back in time and spoke to a League player 10 years ago, I doubt they would've expected to hear that this indie MOBA creator would someday create an ultra-popular hero shooter to compete with Counter-Strike and Overwatch (to a lesser extent).
As an interesting side note, League's player numbers exceed Steam's monthly active users by a fair margin, with the latter sitting at roughly the 120 million MAU mark as of last year. If you'd like to learn more about Steam's recent successes, Valve's last "Year in Review" news post breaks that down in greater detail.
Anyway, we wish Riot all the best moving forward. Hopefully, the company's upcoming MMO will prove to be decent on release; the genre is far too stale for another generic entry.