Riot is revamping its Refer-a-Friend reward program for League Of Legends. That's almost entirely because the "Friends" being referred are often bot accounts and the whole thing is being used to load up accounts with currency and skins before selling them on.
What's supposed to happen is newcomers to League of Legends enter the details of the friend who
wouldn't shut up about LoL until they agreed to give it a go introduced them to the game. Once the new player reaches level 5 the referrer earns 250 Influence Points and when they reach level 10 there are other prizes on offer. Basically, the idea is that if your friend sticks with the game you'll be rewarded.
That goes for bot accounts too, unfortunately. In order to reap the referral rewards the bot accounts need to be levelled up. According to Riot the majority of this used to take place in custom private games so its effect on the genuine LoL-loving populace was negligible. It's now started to spill over into new player games and the Dominion mode. Instead of sticking with the current punishments (removing content acquired through nefarious means, banning players from the program, and sometimes suspending or banning the entire account) Riot decided to re-evaluate the whole scheme.
"Ultimately, the best way to attack RAF abuse is to address the underlying symptoms that make it attractive to abuse in the first place. Specifically, the key cause of most misuse is actually the nature of the program itself. Basically, abusers could make a ton of RP and real money by conducting large-scale botting for the purpose of selling accounts. Worse still, the average player faces a dilemma where attractive rewards like Grey Warwick and Medieval Twitch are prohibitively difficult to obtain honestly."
The Grey Warwick skin is available to anyone who refers 25 friends to LoL who EACH then go on to reach a summoner level of 10. The Medieval Twitch skin is similar but needs 50 of these successful referrals. Riot admit that of the accounts with 10 or more friend referrals 70 percent are attempting to abuse the system. Of the accounts with 100 or more referrals it's 99 percent.
Apparently most players refer between 1-5 people which makes sense because you're often looking for regular playmates in order not to get matched with randoms. As such the program is being scaled accordingly. 1000 IP will be your reward for a referral hitting level 10, Grey Warwick is unlocked on the third referral and Medieval Twitch comes with the fifth. You can only refer a total of five friends. It won't suit everyone but the new approach seems more reflective of real human behaviour and healthier for the community.
Riot is still looking at ways to reward people with high numbers of genuine referrals like those YouTube 'slebs we've heard so much about. They don't say what happens if you, JUST TO PLUCK AN EXAMPLE OUT OF THIN AIR, didn't have any real friends to refer and ended up setting up hundreds of bot accounts in case League of Legends turned out to be a literal popularity contest and not an eSport after all.