The TL;DR for those of you who just want to get back into game: we’re making some changes to Refer-a-Friend in the upcoming weeks to combat abuses like botting and fraud.
We started RAF to reward players for their part in growing League. Refer-a-Friend has quite the history at this point, with multiple incarnations dating back to the original launch of the game, and it’s been a rewarding experience for lots of players.
However, despite the best intentions of almost everyone, a small group of people have severely abused the system, creating negative play experiences for others, particularly new players.
Any rewards program like RAF runs the risk of some participants trying to game the system, and ordinarily we might tolerate low levels of fringe misuse if it meant we were still doing right by the vast majority of players. However, RAF abuse was increasingly degrading the average players' experience, forcing us to contemplate changes.
We’ll start with the symptoms of RAF abuse - things like account selling and botting (i.e. the use of scripts, programs, or other hacks to automate playing a game of League of Legends). The two are closely related in the case of RAF, as botting referrals enables account sellers to create accounts loaded with currency and skins.
In the past, RAF botting mostly took place in private custom games, where players’ experiences weren’t affected. However, as we said, we've recently seen bot usage swell in volume and spill into places like new player games and into game modes like Dominion. We'll be taking action against an array of offenders with the goal of stemming this trend. Additionally, to most effectively combat this type of botting we have to widen our toolkit to include more than just reactive measures like bans.
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.
Let’s talk numbers. 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. Consider that Grey Warwick and Medieval Twitch currently require 25 and 50 referrals, respectively, and the issue is clear. We understand that the current RAF reward structure isn’t ideal for the average player, which is why the reactive efforts we mentioned earlier are focused specifically on dedicated and repeated offenders - no one's going to be punished for referring a smurf or two.
We're working on updates to the Refer-a-Friend program to simultaneously remove incentives for abuse and better serve most League players. One of the key issues here is that it’s difficult for a single program to fully meet the needs of both the average player who might refer a couple friends and a hypothetical YouTube personality who might refer thousands.
We found that the majority of League players refer between one and five friends, and we’ve designed the RAF update to reward you for bringing those friends into the game. With the new update, for every friend you refer who reaches level 10, you’ll earn 1000 IP. You can refer a total of five friends, and with three successful referrals, you’ll unlock the Grey Warwick skin. Recruit five friends and you’ll unlock Medieval Twitch.
There are no additional rewards to earn, and everyone who has participated in Refer-a-Friend in the past will be transferred to the new program with the same number of referrals as they currently have. For example, if you’ve already referred four friends, you’ll earn 4000 IP and Grey Warwick.
As you can see with the plans for the updated Refer-a-Friend, we’re still looking into separate ways of rewarding the highest-volume referrers that don't compromise the experiences of everyone else.
Keep in mind that these changes are focused specifically on combating RAF misuse and its impact on the average player. Botting, account selling, and other forms of fraud have causes beyond RAF, and we continue to cast a wide net when it comes to investigating and fighting them.
We wanted to give to you a heads up on upcoming changes to RAF as well as give you some insight into the motivations behind what we’re doing. Please leave your comments or feedback below!