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Riot’s latest defence of exorbitant $500 LoL Faker skin just makes things worse

Riot Games leadership may have been proud of its newest defense of the highly controversial $500 Faker bundle that’s stunned the League of Legends world, but their recent comments haven’t made things any better.

In fact, League game director Pu Liu’s latest suggestions during a Q&A session at Summer Game Fest, where he declared the staggering price point was “justified” and pointed out the studio has to go to these lengths because most players and esports fans enjoy the Runeterra franchise “for zero dollars,” suggest Riot’s leadership team may not yet realize just how wrong they got this one.

The comments that stood out the most though were Liu’s suggestion that $200 a month is a reasonable expectation for hobbies. While he’s not wrong⁠—$2,500 a year doesn’t seem widely anomalous⁠—it may be a misunderstanding of digital fandom.

In full, Liu said (as shared by PCGamer): “What we really think about, on the morality side, is that there are players who are willing to spend $200 a month on their hobbies. God knows how much I’ve spent on Warhammer figures. But it’s really important that we capture that willingness and that ability to spend.”

The biggest problem here is Warhammer is inherently a pretty bad comparison. The price point for buying Warhammer 40,000 or Age of Sigma-branded models is high, sure, but you spend hours painting, designing, and eventually playing with these. The hefty price tag (and that’s its own separate issue) acts more like an admission cost than a subscription expectation—and beyond all that, you walk away with a physical collectible in hand.

Another example would be trading cards like Magic: The Gathering, Pokémon, or One Piece. I collect the first and the latter and while things like booster packets and sealed product do come with a higher price tag, I often trade or sell many of the cards I pull in the community built up at my local game store. I can then play with cards I’ve opened or traded, building decks that last for lengthy metagame cycles, and keep my favorite (and the rarest) cards to display like modern-day artwork. Again, the price is steep(ish) but it acts like a ticket into that world to play.

Many League players publicly agree with this sentiment, with some suggesting as much across social media on June 12. One disgruntled fan declared they would rather spend 11 percent of the price tag on new Sisters of Battle models (these are popular Warhammer characters) that they can then “spend hours assembling and painting (i.e. enjoyable hobby work), then even more hours of using in the game.” Others pointed, ironically, to Riot’s physical Faker Ahri model as a better buy.

None of these wider fan complaints were helped when Head of League Studio Andrei “Meddler” van Roon said one of the biggest reasons it exists is to “help cover the costs of esports,” though that reasoning is more palatable as Riot looks to blend several regions into one, build a unified Americas and APAC leagues, and plug a long-wanted third international into the competitive calendar.

Riot has yet to release any figures around the Faker skin’s sales and we would be surprised if the League studio ever does. While many of the more vocal fans online have begged others to boycott the bundle, there’s every chance a larger silent majority have simply forked out the cash already.

For those interested in buying League’s most expensive bundle, it’s available from today. Riot has also added new RP packages to make buying it easier.

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