League of Legends, the multiplayer online battle arena game developed by Riot Games, just hit another milestone. For 10 months in a row it has been the most-played PC game, easily beating popular competitors like World of Warcraft, DOTA 2 and Counter-Strike: Global Offensive.
The statistics are measured using the social gaming site Raptr. On the website, League of Legends takes a nearly 20 percent share, almost doubling its closest competitor.
These statistics only take into account people who use Raptr, not players overall, but they are fairly representative of the game's rankings overall. According to Forbes, League of Legends has 27 million daily players and 67 million monthly players. World of Warcraft, the next most popular game, had over 10 million subscribers after the release of its expansion, Warlords of Draenor.
The game's popularity has grown so much that there are even fantasy draft sites where fans can use real money to draft League of Legends players from around the world.
League of Legends was released in October of 2009 by the California-based Riot Games, and it has since exploded in popularity, dominating the number one spots in terms of both active players and viewers. It has also helped provide a large boost to the viewership of competitive eSports, which features other popular games like Starcraft and Mortal Kombat. Though there is occasionally tension between the different gaming communities over which game has the most viewers, League of Legends' effect on the visibility of eSports is widely regarded as a positive thing.
The growth of eSports has been so large that it has started surpassing viewership numbers of many popular sports. The League of Legends Season 3 World Championship in 2013 was watched by 32 million people, more than the NBA Finals and World Series of the same year, and had a grand prize of $1 million. 2014's World Championship was even shown on ESPN3's streaming platform.
As of April 2014, eSports viewership in total reached over 70 million worldwide.
One reason for League of Legends' popularity is the fact that it is a free-to-play game. There is no initial purchase or monthly subscription, which makes the game more easily accessible.
It is also based upon a very popular game mode. Riot's developer partnered with the creator of Defense of the Ancients, a custom map from WarCraft III, a real-time strategy (RTS) game developed by Blizzard. The multiplayer online battle arena (MOBA) genre can be more accessible to players and viewers than RTS games like Starcraft, which has nevertheless enjoyed strong viewership and a dedicated fan base.
It also doesn't look like League of Legends' popularity is going to fall any time soon. Its 67 million monthly players dwarfs its late 2012 numbers of 32 million monthly players.
[Photo by Chris Yunker/Flickr]