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Voice Chat in League Banner

Have you ever wished Riot added voice chatting? Ok, scratch that, here’s why voice chat in League should never exist.



Lyte Riotlink Button Lyte: At Riot, we’re pretty hardcore gamers. Many of us have lived and breathed games like Counterstrike for many years of our lives. Given the features games like these have, every so often, there’s a heated discussion within Riot about voice chat – should we build it in League of Legends? Would it improve the player experience for the average player? Why do some games choose not to integrate voice chat, while others do? Rioters often debate for hours about the pros and cons of voice chat, so we decided to more deeply investigate the impact of voice chat. Every time the discussion comes up, we add a little bit more research to the mix and learn a little bit more about voice chat’s impact on online games.

Due to the recent rise of 3rd party voice chat applications, we decided to take a moment to share some of our findings and explain why we haven’t implemented voice chat in League of Legends, but also why we haven’t closed the doors on it being possible in the future.

Do players want this feature?

One of the critical things I want to highlight is the difference between integrated voice chat with strangers, versus with friends. We often survey League of Legends players on whether they prefer to use voice chat with friends, and over 79% of players agree that it’s a more enjoyable way to play League of Legends. But when you ask League of Legends players whether they prefer to use voice chat with strangers, the agree rate drops to 50%:  1 in 2 players do not want to voice chat with strangers, or don’t care. More importantly, 28% of players disagree. When looking at numbers like these, we have to carefully consider that adding voice chat would actually create an unwanted experience for just over 1 in 4 players. Meanwhile, players who want voice chat already enjoy it with friends using other voice options.

These numbers might seem different than results from online polls or general threads you’ve seen here on the forums, but there are two important variables at play. One, players that tend to visit online forums or communities are aunique subset of the League of Legends population. Two, online polls or questions about voice chat rarely distinguish the difference between voice chatting with friends versus strangers. If you just ask the question “Do you want voice chat in League of Legends?”, most players answer the question through their perspective. Players that prefer to voice chat with strangers say “Yes!”, but so do players that prefer voice chat with friends, leading to bloated numbers and inaccurate perceptions.

What’s the player experience like?

With the recent surge of 3rd party voice chat applications, we were able to do some neat data analysis on the impact of voice chat to the League of Legends experience. We were especially curious as to whether or not these applications created a more enjoyable experience in games where there was voice chat between strangers.

One of the things about voice chat is that more often than not, you end up with games where only a few of the players opt into the application, and the rest are still using text. In our analysis, we found that text-based communication in games where only some of the teammates were in voice chat had up to 126% more racism, sexism, homophobia, and verbal abuse that we all agree have no place in League. Not surprisingly, we also saw that players who were using voice chat with strangers received 47% more reports than your baseline League player.

There have also been a few concerning studies about gender cues and voice chat in other popular, competitive online games. For example, a published paper from Ohio University showed that just giving a cue or sign that you’re a woman on voice chat leads to 300% more negative comments compared to a male voice, or no voice at all.


At the end of the day, voice chat with friends is a great experience, and what League of Legends players actually want. Many players already use voice chat like Skype and Ventrilo with their friends and that’s awesome. But, a system that automatically or easily puts you into voice chat with strangers leads to 126% more toxicity and 47% more reports even when players can opt-out of the experience or mute each other.

Hopefully this gives players more insight into how we think about voice chat.




[ Question ] How did you calculate these statistics?


LyteRiotlink Button Lyte: Like Amazon, Google, Facebook and other tech companies, we’ve developed in-house predictive models that can analyze chat logs in real-time and assess the level of certain sentiment. For example, the model can detect whether a chat log was generally positive communication, or generally negative communication, while also being able to specifically look at the frequency of certain words that we’ve labeled or curated as racist or homophobic (like f*g and f*ggot).

Many third party companies also offer similar services, and many game studios use these services to do things like automatic sentiment analysis of social media to determine player perception of a feature, etc. We built one in-house with some experts in machine learning and language analysis because of the nuance required to build such a model for League of Legends, which has it’s own unique lingo and slang.

For issues like premade sizes vs all solos, these factors are all taken into account in most systems in League. For example, most research will take into account the current premade size when considering things like the # of reports filed in a game, and whether it’s higher or lower than the baseline for that specific premade size vs the general League average.



[ Question ] How are you so confident that talking to strangers will produce toxicity?


LyteRiotlink Button Lyte: Results will vary from app to app and implementation to implementation. For example, if a voice chat app is in Closed Beta, the players that apply for beta, install the app and try it with strangers might be more keen on using voice chat with strangers than your typical player. This experience will be completely different than an integrated voice chat solution that enables voice chat very easily for the entire playerbase.

It’s pretty easy to determine if you are using voice chat with friends vs strangers because many apps will have markers that are different when you use it with friends vs strangers. For example, if you’re using Skype with a stranger, you have to somehow exchange your Skype information over chat first. If you’re using Skype with a friend, you already have the friend on your Skype Friend List. If you’re in voice chat with someone you’ve never played a game with before in League, and never play a 2nd game with, more likely that it’s a stranger than a friend. A few simple heuristics makes it really easy to differentiate voice chat with friends vs strangers.



[ Question ] Ask your co-workers to put a live poll on the main page of this website


LyteRiotlink Button Lyte: We did a “live” poll in the game client, so that we had a better representative sample of the playerbase. If we did it on the website, we’d only sample the % of players that tend to visit the forums, which are a completely different demographic than the overall playerbase.



Chat Restriction Banner

Lyte continues his discussion on the experimental chat restricting system and how it does (and doesn’t do) its job of punishing toxic elements in the game.



Chat Restriction is an automated system and is often doing its job incorrectly


LyteRiotlink Button Lyte: I’m open to hearing your feedback. Even in the Tribunal, Player Support only manually reviews ambiguous cases, or severe cases (that result in bigger penalties).

Even in the chat restriction system, so few players are affected on most servers that Player Support does review a significant portion of the cases and Player Behavior reviews another significant portion. The teams don’t review 100% of cases.

Is the problem you have with the system that there are false positives and positive players being punished, or that we should review 100% of cases regardless of the accuracy of the system?



Players being chat restricted for not talking


LyteRiotlink Button Lyte: Regarding whether players who don’t talk at all should receive additional chat restrictions, it’s actually a very edge case. For example, let’s look at how the system works with this week’s settings and variables.

Let’s take 1000 players that have been chat restricted, and look at what happens with the current system which includes very little feedback.

1) About 67% of players improve their behaviors and never receive a 2nd set of chat restrictions.
– that’s 670 players out of 1000 that are now in neutral or positive standing

2) For many players that receive chat restrictions, not talking at all actually removes their chat restrictions if they received 3-15 game chat restrictions. This is because we agree with Ulanopo, neutral rest states like not talking at all is “good enough” to lift chat restrictions. But, why are some players getting more chat restrictions even when they don’t talk? That leads to point #3.

3) For players that are in the worst 1% of the entire playerbase, they receive 40+ chat restrictions.
– this is about 10 players out of every 1000 players
– since about 67% of players improve their behaviors enough in the 40 games, their chat restrictions are lifted
– this leaves about 3 players out of the 1000 that may receive additional penalties

4) For these worst 1% of players, for these 3 players out of the 1000, it’s sometimes taking ~100-120 games to remove their chat restrictions, even if they don’t talk at all. This means that sometimes these players are going through 3 to 4 batches of chat restrictions. This is because we have not perfected or optimized the tuning of the system, and it should have probably just given these players more chat restrictions to begin with. But, this is why we’re moving rapidly to make sure we experiment efficiently and get to the optimized state ASAP.

We can always tweak the numbers so that players seeing problem #4 need to play through fewer games to reach the “neutral” state. However, due to the lack of transparency, it’s easy to understand why players feel like the problems are more widespread than they are–that’s our fault.



[ Follow-up ] So whether I talk or don’t talk is a lose-lose situation, since I’ll be punished either way?


LyteRiotlink Button Lyte: This is untrue. Many players never talk in-game and just use in-game pings, and they aren’t banned for Refusing to Communicate. A lot of players think they get banned for Refusing to Communicate, but it’s never happened in all my years at Riot.



[ Opinion ] If I’ve moved from talking negatively to not talking at all, I’ve improved my behavior and shouldn’t be further punished


LyteRiotlink Button Lyte: I mentioned this briefly in another post, it’s a bit more nuanced than that. First of all, not talking is fine. Most players don’t talk and just use in-game pings.

However, let’s look at players who have been toxic before, and earned a few penalties. For these players, if they were toxic for 100 games, then don’t talk for 5 games… should we remove their chat penalties? Is the behavior considered fully improved? What if a player was toxic for 1000 games, then did not talk for 1 game? Should we remove their penalties?



[ Question ] So if I’m ignoring people’s offensive language and still being punished for it, what’s my incentive to improve?


LyteRiotlink Button Lyte: If you ignore it all and stay focused on the game, you should stop receiving chat restrictions in the near future. It all depends on a number of factors; for example, if you were being toxic before for 100 games, then ignoring stuff and being positive for 5 games… the system won’t immediately remove your penalties and give you 0 chat restrictions.

At the end of the day, if you continue being sportsmanlike and ignore the trolls, you’ll stop receiving chat restrictions–it might seem slow now, but we’re still tweaking the values on a pretty consistent basis.



[ Follow-up ] 


LyteRiotlink Button Lyte: Players that have never received any penalties before, and not behaved toxic before, will never have an issue not talking.

Players that have been punished before or behaved toxic before are treated differently by systems. So, if players that have been punished recently for toxic behavior do not chat in games, it’s treated as “neutral-negative” and not necessarily positive.



A computer should not be the final say in people getting punished for behavioural issues, regardless of accuracy. The Tribunal was at least managed by people


LyteRiotlink Button Lyte: I agree with many of your points, which is why the chat restriction system is temporary and very experimental. The goal is to take many of the lessons from chat restrictions and incorporate them into the new Tribunal so that we can speed up the Tribunal. 

We’re investigating things like how accurate systems like this can be, and how different types of information can influence the accuracy of the system. For example, is analysis of the chat log more or less important than analysis of player-submitted reports? Or, the comments included in player-submitted reports? Given all the things we record, what data leads to the most accurate decisions?

In the future, we can use a highly sophisticated system like this to determine which Tribunal cases are “ambiguous” and may need more votes, or which are more clear-cut. Alternatively, we could do things like figure out which Tribunal cases are more severe and deserve harsher penalties.



[ Question ] How can you guarantee innocent players aren’t being chat restricted?


LyteRiotlink Button Lyte: As you’ve seen on the forums several times, there’s very few cases of players getting chat restrictions by accident. A lot of players post about their unfair bans, then someone from Player Support will typically reveal that it was well-deserved. It’s 100% not OK for positive players or neutral players to be affected by the system, and we act immediately when such an incident occurs. 

But right now, only 1-2 cases have been overturned since the chat restriction system started handing out penalties.



[ Suggestion ] When a player is punished, email him/her their chat logs


LyteRiotlink Button Lyte: The Tribunal does this, and when the feature comes back it’ll start doing this again.



[ Question ] What can a chat restricted player do to avoid a secondary “neutral-negative” chat restriction?


LyteRiotlink Button Lyte: Right now, approximately 70% of players don’t receive a 2nd set of chat restrictions after their first on ends. Just because you’re chat restricted doesn’t mean you can’t communicate in positive ways.



Feedback is important for punished players so they know how to reform


LyteRiotlink Button Lyte: 100% agree that feedback is necessary and right now it’s disabled because the Tribunal is in upgrade mode. But, chat restrictions are a temporary system, and it’s being experimented with a lot to learn as much as we can about punishment systems so we can incorporate the lessons into the new Tribunal. For example, being able to sort through Tribunal cases with more accuracy, or even better funnel the right cases urgently to Player Support to expedite appeals or harsher bans. Every week with chat restrictions, a few things change, and some parameters change. As a side note, we agree with being more transparent about the system, but we’re still waiting on some servers to get chat restrictions implemented and are waiting for that roll-out before we talk more in-depth about the system.

What’s constructive and super helpful is posts like Ulanopo’s and Eleshkai’s that give us feedback about the concept of chat restrictions; for example, if players feel it’s mandatory for cases to be human-reviewed, that’s an important point that we know the Tribunal will help resolve when it’s back up. What I don’t want to get into the weeds about is the actual tweaking of the variables because those are easily changed in the system when we bring back the Tribunal.



[ Question ] Why isn’t failure to communicate with the players a much bigger deal?


LyteRiotlink Button Lyte: It is a big deal. I mentioned several times that we will strive to be more transparent, but we’re still working overtime on some servers to implement chat restrictions at all. Historically, we’ve done a poor job at making sure every server has the full player behavior feature set; for example, to this day, some servers have never experienced a Tribunal at all and in some servers they don’t have access to LeaverBuster. We need to get these features rolling on these other servers so they can at least match a baseline of player behavior before we keep forging ahead on NA. One of our core goals of the new Tribunal was to make sure that the tech was globally viable, so that we could launch Tribunal globally for the first time in League of Legends. 

But, because standardizing player behavior features across the globe is a massive undertaking, it’s greatly slowed down our communication with players in specific regions (like NA). We’ve been trying to figure out how we can maintain the quality of dialogue, while still ensuring that every player around the world has access to that information. But, it’s a challenge when everything we’d want to discuss needs to be translated and localized in dozens of languages, then we need people like myself who are familiar with the systems actually interacting in every language at every timezone around the world. We’re learning every day on how to do this better, and we aren’t doing a great job today.



[ Question ] Why don’t you ask players on the Tribunal Ban Inquiries sub-forums for advice?


LyteRiotlink Button Lyte: We also know that there’s tons of bright players in TBI/PB forums, and we’ve rewarded them several times for their direct assistance on issues and in giving us a stronger player-perspective on certain things. We’ve invited players several times (if they live locally) to meet with us and talk about the features currently in progress. But right now, we know exactly what the problems are, exactly what we need to change in the systems, and exactly what dialogues we need to re-boot–we’re just trying to figure out how to do it better everywhere, instead of just NA. For example, TBI/PB forums on some servers have gotten 0 responses from anyone in Player Behavior in the entire server’s existence–we need to fix that.

Give us time, and we’ll figure it out. In the past, we’d just post the KB article in NA and sometimes it’d take months before it reached other servers–we can’t be that irresponsible anymore.



Caitlyn's Design Banner

Caitlyn’s been a hot topic recently, so here are more questions about her re-design answered by our favourite parrot!


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[ Suggestion ] Give Caitlyn a real hunting rifle


IronStylus Riotlink Button IronStylus: The way I see her gun is something of an heirloom. A trusty rifle that has served as her tool of choice and that’s a bit anachronistic compared to the other hextech weapons around her.




[ Question ] Will the team enhance her lore to connect more with Vi, Jinx and others from Piltover?


IronStylus Riotlink Button IronStylus: I think there’s some agreement that if we did tackle her we’d want to bring her more in line with Vi, Jayce and Jinx. That story and those connections should be strengthened in my opinion.




[ Question ] Did you aim for an actual officer look with Officer Caitlyn or was the design more of a pinup?


IronStylus Riotlink Button IronStylus: Can’t say at this point about skin production stuff but I wouldn’t see why anything on her Officer skin would change. It’s pretty much understood that she’s as much of an “officer” as you can be if you went into a costume shop to procure such a getup. It’s not supposed to represent the place where the cop fantasy lives. It’s pure novelty. 




[ Question ] Who is the artist behind Caitlyn’s new splash?


IronStylus Riotlink Button IronStylus: Not sure who made it. I’m not too in the loop when it comes to Splash’s cadence or stuff in production.




[ Question ] Where are you in the hierarchy of the concept art team as a Senior artist?


IronStylus Riotlink Button IronStylus: It goes: Intern -> Associate -> “artist”, there’s no “mid-level title -> Senior – Lead or Principle -> Director. 

That’s the rough version of the ladder.



[ Follow-up ] Is it “Director of art” or “Director of concepts”?


IronStylus Riotlink Button IronStylus: Usually it’s some sort of Art Director, but the director level often gets less craft-intensive, often focusing on broad initiatives, style, helping people with career development and other leadership duties. There aren’t often specific disciplines that have directors, though RiotBamDragon is our Animation Director, so some do.



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[ Question ] Is Joon Ahn a new recruit at Riot?


Note: Joon is a Concept Artist for Riot. I recently shared some of his art; you can check his full gallery here.


Zyra_WildfireRiotlink Button fafafafrani: He actually has been at Riot for about a year and a half. His summoner name is boogergames, but if you want to play with him you’ll need to keep in mind that he pretty much only plays Kat mid

You’ve seen his work before, when we had the freljord event
Here is the link to the Freljord image he worked on.…4_max_1200.jpg



[ Suggestion ] Use character design ideas from Dynasty Warriors 8 for future Warring Kingdoms Skins


Riot Whist Riotlink Button Riot Whist: I would love to get involved in creating more Warring Kingdom skins personally. There are a ton of cool things we could do.

I’ll bug the concept artists about it.



[ Suggestion ] No Fog of War Game Mode


Riot Tiki Riotlink Button Riot Tiki: I think a mode that plays around with FoW would be interesting, but one that removes and specifically targets new players is a bit tricky. One issue it might face is teaching something that’s going to be hard to unlearn. Namely that your early experience is having so much vision while the harsh reality is that for most games you play you never will have that much vision.

That begin said, it could be cool to have some variant of this idea as a teaching tool. I agree that the importance of vision is huge and something we could probably do a better of conveying to new players. Might make the lives of new and veteran players better 



Bonus! An Awesome Nami plushie by LittleForestWorkshop!







If you have any questions, feel free to ask me at @NoL_Chefo or e-mail me at [email protected]