Previously Riot Games focused on punishing and eradicating toxic behavior via the Tribunal; a legal-like system that allows regular players to view reports and decide the final outcome via majority vote. However, recently Riot Games added a new incentive aimed at rewarding good behavior, accompanying the already successful Tribunal.
The Honor Initiative works in a similar way to reports, but in a positive capacity. At the end of each League of Legends match players are able to up vote another players reputation. Whether this be for good communication, great teamwork, a friendly approach or a difficult opponent; players can choose to award any of the listed honor or skip the system altogether.
Awarding players different initiative points stacks in their Summoner profile and after enough votes have been collected players are rewarded with either Honorable Opponent, Teamwork, Leader or Mentor crests. These crests are displayed both in the pre and post match game lobbies, accompanying the Champion portrait on the players Summoner Card.
When I first read about the system I chuckled to myself and considered it to be a complete waste of time. How will a tiny visual reward change the behavior of what I considered to be one of the worst gaming communities online? I'm still not entirely sure why people are so attracted to collecting a tiny image on their Summoner card, but there is no doubt that this new incentive has become hugely popular.
Since the Honor Initiative was put in place the League of Legends community has evolved. It has become a completely different game purely because Riot Games understood their player-base and understood what it would take to change it. Since the release of the Honor Initiative, reports have almost halved.
- Negative Attitude reports have seen a 40% combined decrease in both normal and ranked matches
- Offensive Language reports have seen an impressive 55% combined decrease in normal and ranked matches
- Verbal Abuse reports have seen a staggering 58% combined decrease in normal and ranked matches
Love or loathe the system, you cannot argue with these numbers. I took a 6 month absence from the game as I felt I could no longer enjoy it because of the community itself. Don't get me wrong, I'm a gamer and I'm quite happy to take insults, banter and threats; but at the same time I can totally understand the perspective of those that are not open to such behavior. The amount of games I experienced that were ruined by a player quitting purely because of another players behavior was astonishing. I recall, at one time, I played 12 consecutive matches with either one or two of my team leaving, resulting in an almost impossible task for the remaining players.
Riot Games have molded League of Legends into one of the most dominant gaming forces ever to grace the internet, but did they just leave it at that? They're already milking millions and millions of dollars in revenue, why bother to change anything? Why? Well, they actually give a crap. Sure the positive changes in the community will increase their revenue, as studies show people are more willing to spend cash when happy, but the true benefits have hit the players head on. If you've ever found yourself tiring of League of Legends I would highly suggest you return to the game and experience it as how it is today. Even if you left for reasons other than the community, these recent changes have combined to create one hell of a MOBA experience.