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10-15-2013   #1 (permalink)
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Default Riot's eCommerce AMA Summary - Questions on Skins, upcoming features and more.

Surrender at 20: Riot's eCommerce AMA Summary - Questions on Skins, upcoming features, future priorities, and more!

Quote:
As promised in the Vintage limited skins announcement, Riot's eCommerce team has been over on reddit answering summoner's questions with topics ranging from future content and promotions to the return of the limited skins and refunds.
Continue reading for a summary of the Q&A!

( Note: This is just the first part of the AMA, the team will be back round tomorrow and after that concludes I'll UPDATE THIS POST with the new posts! )

The following Rioters participated in this AMA:

Here's the introduction post, complete with a few interesting poitns of it's own:
"Hi all, the eCommerce team will be answering questions for the next few hours and then again tomorrow starting at 12:00 PM PDT, so feel free to ask us anything and everything related to eCommerce at Riot.
Overall, eCommerce is responsible for assessing player interest in new store features, content types, etc. and working with different teams at Riot to make the best ideas happen. Most of our efforts are non-controversial (player gifting, new types of sales, flexible bundle technology, etc.) while others can be highly controversial. We do a ton of research (surveys, focus groups, etc.) to understand player views and interests, and we all also play the game whenever we have free time (most for 3+ years). We have no input into champion balance or other gameplay issues, and little input into which champions and skins get made, so we’ll have to defer on those types of questions.
Here are some of the other projects that the eCommerce team has either driven or heavily supported over the past year or so:
  • Champion/skin pricing structure and availability
  • Weekly champion/skin sales
  • New types of discounts (2 for 1 rune pages, extra bonus RP, boost and summoner name change sales)
  • Self service refunds
  • Ward skins
  • Gifting RP and content
  • Earnable and purchasable summoner icons
  • Flexible bundle technology and new themed bundles
Looking forward, here are some of our top priorities for the rest of the year and 2014:
  • Veteran rewards
  • Champion/skin trials
  • Improved store experience
  • Purchasing on the web
  • Physical merchandise
  • Personalized offers
  • New types of in-game customization
  • Runes
We usually won't be able to provide precise details on future efforts, but feel free to ask us questions about any of the above or anything else related to eCommerce."
Before we head into the fray, I want to point out that I've sorted the responses based on general themes and similar questions rather than just list them chronologically. Enjoy.
Skins

Q: SKT T1 skins?
A: There will definitely be skins to commemorate their victory, but as to the design, we'll have to wait and see! - Udyr
Q: What are your guys plan on future limited edition skins? Do you plan on making any others besides the Victorious skins or do you guys think it is best to just make legacy skins?
A: We are looking for some ways to scratch the "limited edition" itch.
For example, we are creating a limited edition Season 3 ward skin. It won't be ready for the end of season, but will be available shortly after.
For skins, we will likely create very few limited edition skins in the future, if any. - Udyr
Q: Which skin is the all time best sold skin?
A: " The ultimate skins are #1 and #2. Outside of that, Championship Thresh is setting new records every day." - Riot Hippalus

Follow Up A: "Assassin Master Yi is #1 in all time units sold, mostly with free RP. But just looking at the first two weeks after the skin launch, the three I mentioned make up the top 3 in both the % of players that bought them and in RP spent." - Riot Hippalus
Q: Would it be possible to get a list of the most popular and unpopular skins? I'd love to see more stats on purchasable content - maybe an infographic?
A: That might not be a bad idea. We recently put something like this together for the Denewbification class that all new Rioters go through, so maybe it could be adapted for the public. I'll have to check where that rates on the super secret scale. - Riot Hippalus
Q: can we expect cheaper ward skins? and more of them? and maybe temporary ward skins for IP again?plus: can we finally expect a new rumble skin? (he still only got the 3 skins he was released with)
A: We will definitely be making more ward skins; pricing isn't something we think about though when making cool content.
Temporary ward skins for IP wasn't well received last Harrowing, but depending on player demand, we might reconsider it. - Udyr
Follow up Q:"pricing isn't something we think about though when making cool content."
Haha, good one.
A: I think what he meant is that the content designers don't think about price while they're making the content (they just try to make something cool that they would enjoy using in-game). Pricing is determined afterwards.
For ward skins, we decided on the 640 RP price once we saw the first set of permanent ward skins and we have no plans at this time for any other price points. That will probably evolve in the future. - Riot Hippalus

Q: When thinking about new skins/reviewing skin concepts, what's the overall threshold a skin has to pass in order to approved for production and eventually put on the store?

EDIT: What metrics do you guy use to judge which skins are gonna succeed, which skins are gonna be most profitable, etc?
A: Well, for the first question, we don't decide which skins are made, the skins team does that. We have very little input.
For the question about our prediction metrics, we try to look at how popular a champion is, how long it has been since their last skin, how many skins they have, and other similar factors. I also think a great metric is "how cool do I (personally) think this skin is." - WizardCrab


Q: What can you tell us about skins like Red Riding Annie? Will they ever be back?
A: She is Legacy and may return the next time we open the vault. - Udyr
Harrowing Content

Q: Will there be new halloween skins for the harrowing this year, or are you just going with the old ones?
A: There will be new Halloween skins - Udyr
Q: When are you starting the sale on the October limited skins?
A: All of the new and old Harrowing content is currently planned for release very close to the end of the month. I will be as sad as you if it slips into November. - Riot Hippalus
Follow Up Q: Piggy backing to ask, how do you guys determine the timing of when these releases happen.
A: Halloween is only really big in the US whereas the Harrowing is big throughout all of Runeterra In other words, the teams who decide on release dates mainly focus on when they'll be able to ensure an epic holiday, and they're less worried about hitting any specific date. - Riot Hippalus
Q: I know a lot of the people would want a definite answer for this question.
For this year's harrowing event, will there be a flexible bundle for the harrowing skins?
Will there be a flexible bundle for the vintage skins?
Thank you
A: There will be some Harrowing bundles, but I'm not telling you whats in them - Udyr
Q: What kind of time frame (lengthwise) will the harrowing content be available for?
I'm going to be stuck on a naval ship going underway from the 22 Oct - 04 November, and I already missed out on last years harrowing due to deployment
A: The content will be available for around 2 weeks. - Udyr
Physical Merchandise

Q: Physical Merchandise is a big one. I think everyone out there is hoping to be able to purchase a Blitzcrank hoodie!

Question for eCommerce team: How are you looking to evolve the store to complement are horde of veteran LoL players? For example: I have 40k IP on my account because I simply don't have anything left to buy (that I want).
A: We are actively looking for new content and options for IP purchases, but there aren't any concrete plans right now.
Any ideas or feedback on this area would be greatly appreciated! - Udyr
Follow Up Q: "Physical Merchandise"
I'd be a sucker for anything that comes with skin codes or champion unlocks as a nice little bonus.
A: We'll definitely be evaluating tons of ideas, so keep em coming on Reddit and the forums. - Udyr
Purchasing on the Web / Shop Improvements

Q: Is this "Purchasing on the web" going to be world wide? I mean, every country will have it's own website such as the Latin America, Brazil, and Australia?
A: It will depend on the rollout and the overall plan.
The goal with "purchasing on the web" is to make LoL content easier for people to acquire on the go, or when they aren't logged into the client. - Udyr
Q: Hello Riot-eCommerce team. I just wanted to say Im looking forward to the VU and imporvement of the store experience. I just dont get the league of legends "feel" whenever I'm browsing there. It also seems to restock very slowly for alot of products . My question: Im guessing from your job description, that you are all marketeers. With more than 30 million players and tens of different regions and cultures constantly interacting with the game, I imagine that you must have a pretty difficult time assessing player interest. How do you do it? Do you segment markets based on servers and customize each idea to tailor each regions most ideal need? Thank you
A: When it comes to store improvement, we're exploring the overall player experience and individual customization more so than regional nuances. - DontHassleDaHoff
Limited Skins Returning


Q: On the limited skins returning, one comment I've been seeing over and over again is summoner upset there is only one vintage summoner icon available for everyone rather than something to signify which event they had special skins from ( i.e World Cup vs Harrowing '10 ).

Just curious about your thoughts on this piece of feedback
A: We're planning to survey all of the original limited edition skin owners (or at least those that have valid email addresses) after the Harrowing to find out what they liked most and least about our solution, and what else they'd like to see happen. Our plan is to iterate over time to ensure we recapture some of the benefits of owning those vintage skins. - Riot Hippalus
Q: I've noticed with past legacy skins that they've been released at half price/reduced prices, in addition to this I noticed that in the vintage skin article you said that original owners of the skin would be refunded the 'amount of RP they originally paid'... Does this mean the skins are going to be released at lower prices than they were originally released at?
A: No, the Harrowing skins will all come back at their price from when they were originally in the store. - Riot Hippalus


Q: Hey eCommerce team, let me start off by thanking you guys for taking the time out of your day to do this AMA!

A while back, the Turkish League of Legends server hosted a sale featuring skins such as Candy Cane Miss Fortunate and Lollipoppy.

With the sure promise issued by Riot that the skins would never return, many NA server summoners (including myself) flocked to the Turkish server, paying a total cost of 5200 RP for the transfer there and back to purchase the 975 skin(s).

I really am glad to hear that you guys are finally releasing these limited skins for everyone to have, i think it's really great and will allow more people to enjoy something that they probably deserve to have, but i'm still very, very upset with the amount of RP i lost as a result.

The only reason I transferred to the turkish server was to obtain a miss fortune skin that was said to never return, and as a result, i ended up losing 5200 rp.

Is there any chance those who had to transfer to the Turkish could receive a minor refund for the server transfer costs? Even if it was just a partial refund for one direction of the transfer (2600 RP) it would still help ease the pain, im sure all the individuals who are in my situation feel the same way :/
A: "The only reason I transferred to the turkish server was to obtain a miss fortune skin that was said to never return, and as a result, i ended up losing 5200 rp."
We will be refunding the transfer cost, but those players will not receive vintage treatment or refunds for the purchase of the skin. - Udyr

Q: In light of the recent announcements on the revival of Limited Edition skins, I wanted to ask about the reasons for excluding some LE skins, notably Championship Riven.

As you stated in your news you believe "[...] skins are primarily about self-expression and fun, not exclusivity." This is exactly how I feel about skins, I honestly couldn't care less about exclusivity, but i.e. in my case as a Riven main with over 200 ranked games since I started playing in March '13, there is simply no skin besides the Championship skin that I would enjoy playing (and thus I mainly play without a skin at all).

This is especially valid for Riven as a champion, because all her other skins besides Battle Bunny (which is not my style at all) are relatively old and thus lower quality, but her one high quality, serious-themed skin has to be Limited Edition.

So ever since I fell in love with Riven I continously and desperately look for possibilities to get that skin, but besides buying one for an absurd price on ebay, it seems impossible. This fact takes away quite a bit of enjoyment I would otherwise have with this already amazing game.

So, will some of those excluded skins maybe be reconsidered for future revival phases?
A: The short answer is yes. Any limited edition skin that has been sold in our store may come back. Championship Riven is one of those skins. At this moment we don't have any definite plans for bringing them back. If we do bring them back, they will be treated in the same manner as the other limited skins. - WizardCrab
Life Time RP / Veteran Rewards

Q: A long time ago, IIRC, you guys said something about rewards based on Lifetime RP? Any updates on that? Or did I potentially miss a red post that probably got buried?
A: We're looking to have something for the community by the end of the year - we haven't forgotten about you! - DontHassleDaHoff
Follow Up Q: Would this be counting the RP we had purchased before something like this was put in the game?
A: Yes - everything since the day the store opened. - Riot Hippalus
Q: Just wondering how much RP would it have to be overall for you to reward people and does the amount of RP increase the amount of rewards. I'm asking because I would be sad to see someone who has purchased let's say, 4000RP lifetime get the same amount of rewards, or the same rewards as me, taking into concideration that I've purchased about 35k RP or something maybe even a lot more, don't really remember how much.
A: The plan is to have an evolving summoner icon that gets progressively cooler every time another threshold is hit. It's taken WAY too long to get it right but it has not been forgotten. - Riot Hippalus
Q: Can we expect rewards for the future to be something larger than just a summoner icon? And how do you expect to change runes?
A: Initially, veteran rewards will be mainly focused on summoner icons and potentially additional refund tokens. What kind of rewards are you looking for?
On runes, the leading ecommerce-related ideas at this point are either allowing players to upgrade from one tier to the next, or eliminating tier 2 runes altogether. The gameplay dudes have other plans for runes for Season 4 that will likely happen before any of our stuff. - Riot Hippalus

Q: Any plans for some sort of loyalty reward type thing, like playing for 2 years gives you x RP?
A: We have been looking into a plan for this and are currently working out the details. - DontHassleDaHoff
Runes

Q: So what's in store for runes? This is a pretty big deal.
A: There will likely be some rune changes for Season 4 - Udyr
Q: Have you ever considered selling Rune bundles?
For example, an ADC/Marksman bundle might have:
  • 9x Greater Marks of Damage
  • 9x Greater Seal of Armor
  • 9x Greater Glyph of Magic Resist
  • 3x Greater Quintessence of Life Steal
I realize this depends heavily on the meta and is liable to change as different builds become popularized, but I don't think it is too different from having role labels on certain champions (eg. Marksman, Support, etc).
A: We like this idea too but we're waiting to see how the Season 4 changes shake out. - Riot Hippalus
A: We've considered it, but one of the common situations is that most players don't have significant quantities of IP lying around. So it would be a very limited subset of players that could purchase a bundle even if we introduced it.
Not to say that we won't consider it in the future. - Udyr
New Features / Ideas

Q: Hey all! Thanks for doing this. What are some of the biggest deciding factors on whether or not an idea (i.e gifting) should be put into place or not?
A: Mostly it comes down to dev cost + opportunity cost of not doing another feature.
A lot of our features are also more about player value (i.e. Refunds) so we try to maximize things that help players and help Riot. Gifting is a great example of where we can meet both needs. Flexible bundle tech as well. - Udyr
Q: Have you ever considered "Renting" a champion for some Ip/Rp, helps with trying out champs and getting rid of a couple extra ip/rp you have
A: That's the concept behind trials - Udyr
Q: Can you elaborate on ideas you have considered for "new types of in-game customization"? Do you plan to sell any of the following?:
  • Announcer packs
  • Custom map styles
  • Custom HUD styles
A: All of those are potential focus areas although nothing is super near term and I can't go into much detail here. Feel free to share your favorite ideas along these lines. - Riot Hippalus
Q: This is a really far fetched idea, but I think Riot is capable, and has possibly thought of this before.

A reward for playing a certain amount of games with a champion, possible in game effect, or loading screen graphic.

Has this ever crossed the team's mind, and how likely is it on a scale of 1-10?
A: Things like this have definitely crossed our minds all of the time. There are a number of obstacles to this and similar ideas. For instance with your idea, we'd be concerned that it would lead to increased champ select issues when a player couldn't get the champion they are trying to get the reward for. We really don't want to encourage more trolling/dodging :/ - WizardCrab
A: We're investigating this at the moment. What we don't want to do is to cause negative behavior - imagine the games you'll get in when someone instalocks Annie cause they want that reward. - DontHassleDaHoff
Q: Is there ever any chance players will be able to temporarily gift a skin to a teammate when trading champions in draft mode?

(For example, I have Old Saint Zilean and Mighty Jax. I've often wanted to, when picking that champion for other people, be able to let them use that skin.)
A: That's a cool idea!
Never considered it before. - Udyr
Q: Since it appears to be off the table (and effectively unneeded with the upcoming vintage skin sales), what were - assuming this was a commerce and not programming issue - the biggest challenges and obstacles to a marketplace to sell/trade rare/limited skins?

Also, if you can't/already have/don't want to answer that, how did you get into the economic side of eSports, and what would you recommend others do to follow in your footsteps.
Thanks!
A: There were a few obstacles with the marketplace, but the most unsolvable one was that for some of these skins there would be so few sellers compared to buyers that it would not solve the core problem of deserving players being able to acquire their favorite skin for their favorite champion.
As for eSports, we all love it as fans and we've seen that eSports related content is typically purchased by an above average number of players. It's not enough of a difference to cover all of the salaries, events, production, etc. but even though it's hard to make the math work on eSports, we all believe the investment is worth it in the long run. - Riot Hippalus
General / Other

Q: Can you give us a hint for when the next summoner name change sales is going to happen, if at all? I've created my nickname when I didn't thought I'd have so much interest in the game, and I'm always reluctant in paying 1300 RP for that feature instead of skins and/or champions.
A: We are working on an alternate solution for Summoner Name Change that wouldn't rely on a mass cleanse.
We plan to bring back sales on Summoner Name Change at some point in the future. - Udyr
Q: will we ever be seeing the return of themed skins and champ sales? I really loved having them.
A: The community has filled that role very well in my opinion, adding additional flavor to each sale.
But not having a specific theme for each sale, it saves us a lot of time and were able to be a lot more flexible with the content that we put on sale. - Udyr
Q: Thoughts on making bundles giftable? Will this ever be possible?
A: It's on the list, but its a little more complicated, so there isn't a timetable I can share. - Udyr
Q: Will team summoner icons not in NA/EU, such as Samsung Galazy Ozone icon, be planned to be made available for purchase in store?
A: It's tough because there are contractual and legal things to get these things in the store.
Even if we were to sell them for IP only, there would probably need to be a contract of some sort, so I can't really say. - Udyr
Q: Hello Rioters! First things first, been noticing A TON of feedback from you guys lately in everything from champ testing to skin sales and more, just wanted to say thank you for all your hard work and your openness with the community. Now, can we expect some Christmas themed skins or even Christmas wards? Secondly, what type of veteran rewards are in the works? If you can tell me your super secret plans.....voyboy......
A: There might be some snow themed content. Depends on how cold we can keep it - Udyr
Q: Hi Economics student here!

I was just wondering what kind of approaches you guys take just with approaching and analysing your e-commerce metrics. Because you essentially have an unlimited supply of any skins you're selling to players and with no competition you're free to set whatever price point you deem fair. So more or less how do you determine the optimum price to maximise the number of units sold? I know Hippalus posted a while back regarding the new pricing tiers for skins based on vfx, but it'd be interesting to hear what the team's approach is regarding sales and quantity sold.

I understand if you guys are unable to release any of this information, but thanks for doing this ama nonetheless!
A: To be 100% honest, we don't have our skins priced to maximize profits. We try to price them to maximize player experience. This means a lot of different things, one of which is generating enough revenue to continue to produce a great product for you. Many players may or may not believe this, but I can tell you that our prices are not "profit maximizing." - WizardCrab
Q: Will there ever be a sale for legendary skins like Pulsefire Ezreal?
A: We consider Legendary and Ultimate skins to be price-protected tiers.
The only discounts for Ultimate skins are launch discounts. - Udyr
Q: Obviously League is already a huge, and you guys are constantly getting new players, but what I think is really hurting the new players to fully experience League like many of the old players are now is the prices of champions and runes. So many champions are 4800+ and it is extremely difficult to get that much IP. I love the idea with the decrease the amount of a Champion price each time a new champion comes out.
  1. So my question is, did you guys or will you guys ever start thinking about doing several champion reductions at one time?
  2. Somehow getting free Runes for playing games?
A:
  • Yes. Every third champion we release, we reduce the price of two older ones. For instance, when Jinx came out, we reduced the price on both Xerath and Miss Fortune.
  • No plans for this. Do you want to elaborate on how you'd like a feature like this to work? - WizardCrab
Q: Is it possible that, in the foresee-able future, Riot will accept bitcoin transactions/trades for RP?
A: We are always looking for better ways for players to use providers that make sense.
If there was a big enough need, we would consider it. - Udyr
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