With 180 million players, League of Legends games have more active users than Steam

(Image credit: Riot Games)

These days you can't write a tweet about League of Legends without some wiseass popping up in the replies saying 'dead game lol.' That has never been true: it's one of the bits of community flotsam that attaches to any live service game that's been around for a while. But now Riot's released a new player statistic that shows just how alive and kicking the League series is.

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The tweet seemed a little fuzzy so I reached out to Riot to clarify exactly what games this includes and the methodology. While the publisher wouldn't give a breakdown of the numbers across different titles, it says the figure is based on games set in the League of Legends universe. "This includes League of Legends, League of Legends: Wild Rift, Legends of Runeterra, Teamfight Tactics and Fight for the Golden Spatula (licensed in China)." So: no Valorant (which would have added around 14 million players a month).

League of Legends: Wild Rift is likely contributing some big numbers here: a slimmed-down take on LoL designed for mobile, it's had a staggered release worldwide and was published by Tencent on October 8 in China.

Some publishers put out figures like these and what they actually reflect is total accounts created over the game's lifetime: not so here. Riot's astonishing figure is based on accounts that have been used to play at least one of its games in the last month.

Here's what Riot told us about how it defines monthly active users: "Monthly active users ('MAUs') are defined as the number of players who accessed a game, and in this case, the calendar month of October. A player who accesses two of our games would be counted as two users.”

Even if there are accounts in there playing two or more LoL games a month, and even if mobile is inflating the stats to an unknown but probably large degree, these figures are still mind-blowing. To give an idea of scale, in 2020 it was estimated that Steam had 120 million monthly active users. With stuff like the Netflix show Arcane imminent, and even larger game projects in the works, Riot's momentum seems unstoppable.

Rich Stanton

Rich is a games journalist with 15 years' experience, beginning his career on Edge magazine before working for a wide range of outlets, including Ars Technica, Eurogamer, GamesRadar+, Gamespot, the Guardian, IGN, the New Statesman, Polygon, and Vice. He was the editor of Kotaku UK, the UK arm of Kotaku, for three years before joining PC Gamer. He is the author of a Brief History of Video Games, a full history of the medium, which the Midwest Book Review described as "[a] must-read for serious minded game historians and curious video game connoisseurs alike."