Riot Games is updating their Refer-A-Friend system to combat abuses by a small percentage of the community. The update is aimed at taking away the incentive for abuses, and not to punish the majority of the League of Legends community. This is not the first time that Riot has changed the Refer-A-Friend system, and depending on how effective this is, it may not be the last.
The main problem was people creating bot accounts, which would automate a game of League of Legends, but have worse tactics than a five year old. These fake accounts would give the referring account experience and various rare skins, specifically the Grey Warwick skin at 25 referrals and the Medieval Twitch skin at 50 referrals. With enough of these bot accounts an abuser could then sell off their account that got the referrals for a lot of real world money while it was filled with skins and currency.
In Riot’s blog post about the update they give some numbers to help show the problem. “We found that while only about 1.4% of RAF participants attempt to abuse the system, if we isolate accounts with 10 or more referrals the percentage jumps to 70%, and then skyrockets to 99% when you count only those with 100 or more referrals.”
As these numbers show you, the abuse of the Refer-A-Friend system in League of Legends is fairly bad. However, when it came to developing a solution to this problem, Riot Games tried to help the average player, along with eliminating the reward for such an abuse. According to Riot’s research, “the majority of League players refer between one and five friends.” Because of this, they changed the reward system for Refer-A-Friend so that players will get rewarded for referring up to five friends. However, they will only receive a reward when and if those friends reach level 10. Once they do, the referring account will receive 1,000 IP, and at three successful referrals they will receive the Grey Warwick skin, and at five successful ones they will receive the Medieval Twitch skin.
The rewards cap out at five, so Riot Games hopes to cut down on the botting that was caused by these rewards. However, they are also taking into consideration how they can reward players who can and have legitimately brought in many other players to League of Legends, but they have not yet announced how they will be doing that. Hopefully this new change will keep bots from showing up as often and ruining the experience for new players.