One of League of Legends’ most popular game modes makes people stop playing. According to a recent Ask Riot post, the game’s Ultra Rapid Fire (URF) saw significant drop-off in player count every time it was re-introduced.
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URF began as an April Fools joke in 2014, and was intended to drastically speed up games of League of Legends. Abilities now had no resource cost, cooldowns were reduced by 80%, all champions moved faster, and gold was earned five times faster than in normal games. The game mode proved incredibly popular, and returned twice in 2015, but since then has only appeared rarely, in the form of All-Random URF, in which characters were randomly picked at the beginning of matches. This year, a Christmas-themed version of the game has appeared on Summoner’s Rift, prompting some players to ask why vanilla URF seems to have disappeared.
The simple answer to that is that “URF makes some people stop playing League.” The mode would regularly cause a spike in the number of games being played, but according to Rioters Ghostcrawler and Cactopus, “the numbers actually dropped back down to a level that’s lower than it was just before we ran URF.” While it’s normal for people to come and go, and for players to leave the game over time, Riot say that “whenever we ran URF we’d usually see over twice as many longtime players leave the game compared to what we would’ve normally expected.” Once those numbers drop “they don’t recover for a long time, if ever.”
That’s the reason for the series of ‘experiments’ Riot have been conducting around the mode for the past two years, such as ARURF and its current winter variation. The team say they’ll continue to experiment with the mode until they get it right, but it’s safe to assume that we won’t be going back to the original version; at the very least, the random element will be sticking around.