If you play League of Legends and were a good boy or girl in 2014, you might have something special waiting for you from Riot. If you’ve suddenly received a mystery gift, it’s because you kept your nose clean over the course of the past year.
Riot says it is distributing the gifts to players that received no chat restrictions, ranked restrictions, 14-day bans, or permanent bans. You also need to be at least level five and have at least ten skins you don’t yet own.
Riot says that this is part of a new behavior improvement strategy. The developer has combatted toxic behavior in a variety of ways in the past, including the institution of a player-involved Tribunal system to adjudicate offenses.
This part of the approach is designed to surprise players at irregular intervals with a variety of bonuses. According to Jeffrey Lin, lead designer of social systems at Riot, a schedule of rewards doesn’t work.
“Because players aren’t sure what the next reward is (or when it is), players will strive to be sportsmanlike in a larger range of games to try to get all the surprises,” Lin writes on Reddit. “For positive players in the game, this won’t really affect them and they’ll just get surprises every so often for being awesome. For neutral players, this effort might convince some of them to put in that extra effort in a few more games to get the next surprise. For toxic players, this effort might also encourage a few to change their ways though we expect the biggest impact to be with the neutral players.”
Other news out of Riot this week involves the developer’s attempts to improve network connections for its players. In a post from brand strategist Charlie Hauser, the company discusses its plans to create a dedicated network for League of Legends data traffic.
“Currently, ISPs focus primarily on moving large volumes of data in seconds or minutes, which is good for buffered applications like YouTube or Netflix but not so good for real-time games, which need to move very small amounts of data in milliseconds,” Hauser writes. “On top of that, your internet connection might bounce all over the country instead of running directly to where it needs to go, which can impact your network quality and ping whether the game server is across the country or right down the street.”
Riot is working with internet service providers to connect their customers to this League of Legends gaming network. This is intended to ease traffic problems experienced by some players, especially those on the east coast of the United States.
The first phase of the company’s “North America Server Roadmap” involved rebuilding the server infrastructure to create more stable connections. Work with the ISPs is part of phase two. Finally, Riot is investigating a new physical location for its servers.