Riot Games are "retiring" the Dominion mode from League of Legends [official site]. They launched the control point-capturing mode in 2011 to shake up LoL's three-lane pushing with shorter, more murdersome rounds, for people who just wanted to hop on and kill some wizards. But with "fewer than 0.5% of players" actively playing Dominion, according to Riot, it's in a death spiral of long queue times and imbalance. It's sad in any game when a mode goes to a home. So long. Ta-ra. We may come visit.
Yes, no, don't worry, I will get to The Sisters of Mercy in a bit.
Riot say in last night's announcement that they've since learned that "alternative game modes work better in short cycles rather than as standalone queues." Dominion as a permanent fixture, without the buzz of events and short lifespan drawing players in, hasn't worked out so well. They explain:
"We haven't been supporting Dominion, and we've trapped ourselves in a vicious cycle where the queue isn't large enough to warrant major attention, but falls prey to bugs and periods of imbalance from the introduction of new champs and items (which then drives down the size of the queue, and so on).
"In the absence of our attention, matchmaking and game quality in Dominion varies wildly based on daily engagement. Because of how matchmaking works, the longer someone looking to play Dominion waits in queue, the wider the pool of potential foes the matchmaker can pull from -- with such a small population, Dominion games can match up widely divergent skill levels after long enough queue times. Unhealthy queues that force players to endure long waits with fluctuating match quality ultimately creates an overall poor experience -- one we take responsibility for."
Retiring modes from a multiplayer game is always prickly. Titanfall pulling Capture the Flag from its regular mode rotation was enough for Graham to rescind his recommendation (it returned, by popular demand). Evidently some are still enjoying Dominion even with these problems, and LoL has millions of players so "fewer than 0.5%" is still a fair few thousand. But Riot don't want a mode which they think is subpar, which isn't representative of what they want LoL to be, isn't something they'd want new players to try.
"We're considering other ways to use the Dominion map (as a featured game mode, for example) but nothing is set in stone," they say.
Dominion will be pulled on Monday, February 22nd. As a memento, Riot are giving players who won over 100 Dominion games a special icon they can wear on their profile with pride.
I'm pretty sure Kieron would return to fire me if I didn't embed this: