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Events: The Harrowing 2014

Yesterday, I put in a good number of streaming hours playing League of Legends for the Extra Life 2014 charity event (which I am breaking up throughout the week), and I figured I’d talk about their current event, The Harrowing. It’s an annual Halloween-themed event. Looking at their promotional page for it, I’d like to break it down and describe what it does for the game.

First, let’s have a look at the event page itself and go down.

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There, you’ve got the name of the event, an evocative background, and some text to set the mood.

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Scroll down just a little, and you get a cinematic to build it up even more, along with a few links you can use to share the video with your friends. Now that the mood is fully set, they start introducing the new features of the Harrowing event. First up are a pair of skins for the champions. These are premium items, so they’re going straight for the flashy stuff to bring in revenue.

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Ravenborn LeBlanc is introduced with some fantastic art and given a price, and there’s a link to read more about that particular skin. If you head over there, there are screenshots of the skin in-game and an animated gif of its idle animation. You also learn that the skin is going into the Legacy Vault on November 4. In other words, this is a skin that can only be purchased during the limited window of this event. She’ll probably be made available for purchase again next year, but she won’t be as new and exciting.

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Scrolling down a little further, you see the Underworld Wukong skin. It’s introduced like the LeBlanc skin, but it sweetens the deal a little more. You’re given the price of 1350 RP (the game’s hard premium currency), but you’re also told that it’s on sale for just 975 through the 28th. Not only is it a new skin, it’s a new skin that’s worth more money than the skin before it, but you can get it for the same price as the previous one if you act now.

One thing I’d like to see improved here is to explain Underworld Wukong has a higher base price than Ravenborn Leblanc. I get that I’m saving money by buying Wukong now, but I haven’t yet been sold on why I should get him over LeBlanc.

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Moving on, they step away from premium items and start moving towards things that are free for all players. The Shadow Isles Crest Icon is a transitional step. It’s introduced as being available for 1500 IP, the game’s soft currency, but it’s only purchasable for IP during the event. Afterward, it’ll cost 250 RP. Now,icons aren’t terribly exciting, but it’s clear they wanted to present all premium options first. It also keeps the icon from becoming lost or forgotten after the next item, the Hexakill gameplay mode. Normally, an event-exclusive gameplay mode is given higher billing, but because it’s a returning mode from previous years, it isn’t going to be as exciting to write about.

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The game does, however, provide an incentive to play: The Mark of the Betrayer icon. Win three Hexakill games, and it’s yours. The Harrowed Puppet icon is also present for players who give gifts to another player. This is done with Riot Points, so that’s another way to encourage revenue.

There is, of course, a sale, and that’s big enough to deserve its own page, since the event page is meant to be a quick summary of the whole thing. They close out with a quote to close out the Halloween mood, and that wraps it up.

So, looking it over, the event has:

  • A new limited time skin
  • A new limited time skin on a discount
  • A new icon free for a limited time
  • A seasonal game mode
  • A new icon for participating in the seasonal event
  • A new icon for buying a gift for another player
  • A sale

What do these do for the game? The new skins generate buzz and revenue, and give a face to the event. The Shadow Isles Crest icon is a little something to get players in a spending mood, since it’s cheap, and players don’t even need to spend real money. In fact, I’d say its real purpose is to get players to visit the store. They might not intend to purchase anything else when going there, but getting them to step inside is going to make them interested in browsing.

The seasonal game mode provides something novel for players to engage with the game itself, not just the store. League of Legends normally consists of 5v5 matches on a large map. Hexakill mode uses a map normally used for 3v3 matches, then raises the number of players to make a 6v6 match. That’s a lot of player density, which means there’s going to be a lot of kills and chaos.

Some players who have played Hexakill in previous years might not be as interested in playing it again, but by creating a new icon for winning three matches in Hexakill mode, you encourage them to give it a shot for a few games, at least. It’s free and it’s available for a limited time, so why not? This helps drive player engagement.

Finally, there’s an icon for buying a gift for another player. Exchanging mystery boxes with another player is popular, so this encourages purchasing, even for players who might not necessarily want anything specific. Presenting that at the end also gets the players thinking about the store again, which is when they bring up the big thing: The sale.

The sale gets its very own page

The sale page starts off on a strong foot: Flash sales. Some skins will be on sale for six hours, then those will rotate out to be replaced by another set of skins. Players leave their clients open during the event and periodically check the store to see if a skin they’ve had their eye on is going to be discounted.

Next, they talk about the two new Halloween skins, then come some big-ticket bundles with the skins from previous years. This is one of the things I like about seasonal events, where the longer the game runs, the better the seasonal event becomes with every new year. New content for old players and an enormous amount of content for new ones. One thing that I notice is that the 2013 bundle is only two skins, and in 2014, they also only introduced two new skins. My guess is that because skins require development time, they’re spending that time creating new skins that will generate revenue throughout the year instead of spending it on items that will only roll out in late October. Of course, I’d like to see more holiday skins, but more than that, I’d like to see more content throughout the year.

Legacy skins and ward skins are, of course, available for sale again. The whole thing closes out with a final mention of the mystery gifts, which now drop Harrowing content at twice the normal rate. The gifting is, of course, encouraged with the new summoner icon for giving a gift to people.

So, yeah. That about covers it. New content, new sale items, sales on previous items, an incentive to keep the client open, an incentive to buy things for other people, and a seasonal game mode. It’s all limited availability, so it’s all urgent, encouraging the players to check it out ASAP. There’s stuff in here for free players and paying players alike, and free players aren’t penalized for participation at all.

As usual, leave whatever comments and questions you like! Happy Harrowing, everyone!

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Posted by on October 26, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

Extra Life 2014 Game Streaming

My Extra Life 2014 stream is live! Check it out over here.

Also, please consider pledging to the Oakland Children’s Hospital and Research Center.

Current game: League of Legends

 
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Posted by on October 25, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

Extra Life

This isn’t strictly related to game design, but this Saturday, I’ll be starting an Extra Life stream to raise money for childrens’ hospitals. Starting at 8 AM, I’ll be streaming 24 hours of gameplay (broken up through the weekend). My goal is to raise $100. If you’d like to pledge, please head over here and sign up!

I’ll add a link for the stream later. I haven’t decided fully on the games I’ll be streaming, but if you have suggestions, please let me know!

My current ideas are:

  • Neverwinter
  • Civilization: Beyond Earth
  • League of Legends
  • XCOM: Enemy Within
  • Typing of the Dead: Overkill
  • Spelunky
 
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Posted by on October 22, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

What have you been playing?

Stepping aside from the topic of game design, I’m curious about what people have been playing. Here’s my list. I tried to figure out the line between playing for research and playing for entertainment, and it’s pretty entangled, so I’m not going to try to differentiate them.

  • League of Legends
  • Neverwinter
  • Super Smash Bros.
  • Crypt of the Necrodancer
  • Marvel: Avengers Alliance
  • Criminal Case
  • Candy Crush
  • Cookie Jam
  • Hay Day
  • Clicker Heroes

On top of this, I’m thinking about sinking more time into XCOM or Civ 5. I dumped 500 hours into those, but they’ve still got their hooks in me. A new Civilization game is coming out later this month too, and I know I’m probably going to disappear into that game.

So, what games have you been playing?

 
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Posted by on October 3, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

Finally

comingsoon

I’ve beaten every single level in Angry Birds Stella. It’s got two episodes, each containing about 70 levels. I’m going to give myself a little time to think it over a bit. I’ve also started playing League of Legends more seriously. I figure I should try to achieve a decent level of skill in at least one competitive game, and League seems to have the largest audience. Expect a return to my usual update schedule soon.

 
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Posted by on September 11, 2014 in Uncategorized