League of Legends starts sending leavers to server purgatory

One of the most frustrating aspects of League of Legends is playing a game down a man

One of the most frustrating aspects of League of Legends is playing a game down a man. You’d think it’d be a rarity. But once, I wrote up a spreadsheet to keep track of just how many games someone afked or left for most of it. I had many nights where half or more were affected.

It ruins the experience for everyone involved—the losing team feels hopeless and cheated out of their time, considering they need to wait until the 20 minute mark to surrender. The winning team feels like they’re victimizing players who were already cheated.

Riot Games’ LeaverBuster is supposed to punish players who leave games and AFK, but it hasn’t been very effective. The company announced last night that that’s going to change.

An updated LeaverBuster debuted on the Public Beta Environment (PBE) last night, aiming to more effectively punish offenders with a stricter system with better feedback to players.

LeaverBuster will warn players who leave their team without a full lineup, showing them a pop-up explaining that leaving is not allowed in League, and place repeat offenders into a low priority queue where they’ll be stuck with other players who leave and AFK during games.

In the past, Riot Games “erred on the side of caution,” writes lead designer of social systems Jeffrey Lin. But it’s time to throw caution to the wind.

Offenders will be notified of just how many games they are stuck in the lower priority queue, where queue times will be as high as 20 minutes longer than a player who didn’t leave games.

They’ll also be publicly shamed if they try to join a pre-made group, notifying every member that a leaver has poisoned their queue time by joining them. Those stuck in the low priority jail will be banned if they continue to offend.

Ranked players will suffer stiffer and swifter punishment. Lin says that leaving even one time in a ranked match could induce a penalty.

Players are understandably worried that connection issues may doom them to fall prey to the LeaverBuster if they get a little bit unlucky. Lin had a response a bit uncharacteristic of how a game company might usually handle that issue: “Players with internet connections DCing are still ruining the entire match for 4-9 other players in the game.”

For players who live in places where stable internet isn’t available, that’s little solace. Though the vast majority of players will likely be unaffected.

As for players worried about intermittent disconnects or random crashes, fear not. If you reconnect to the game and finish the match, you won’t be punished as long as you weren’t gone for 20 minutes, the bulk of a match.

The lower priority queue is a punishment technique used in many other titles, like Valve’s Dota 2. It’s the first time that kind of system has made it into League of Legends, where things like chat restrictions and temporary bans seem to be the punishment of choice.

League of Legends should be just a bit more enjoyable once the LeaverBuster goes live. While leavers will still surely plague plenty of games, they won’t be in nearly as many of them with slower queues.

Image via Riot Games