Riot Games is slowly but regularly revealing details on the upcoming gigantic overhaul of the current system of Runes and Masteries in League of Legends.
To sum up the original announcement from May, the developer will be tearing down the walls and rebuilding the entire foundation from scratch. Runes Reforged will see the merging of both Runes and Masteies into one singular entity. Most importantly, after years of enduring long-standing complaints and criticism, League of Legends will finally offer Runes for free.
Posting on the official forums, design director Greg “Ghostcrawler” Street shared the reason behind the development team being so cautious about the whole affair. While the Runes Reforged intiative will bring good tidings for the community, it will also result in Riot Games losing a ton of money on a global scale.
Now we are making some other changes to the system, but overall, Riot is losing money on this deal. Potentially a lot of money. This was something we had to talk about a lot internally, but everyone was ultimately behind the decision, all the way to Tryndamere and Ryze. I don’t want to make too big of a deal out of this, but if we seem cautious with some of our decisions here, this is part of the reason why. (Another big one obviously is that we are taking a gamble by overhauling such a core part of the game for something that we believe will be better.)
Runes and Rune Pages have always been a controversial subject because of the fairly expensive price tags. Indirectly, whether it was intentional or not, players were forced to spend real-world money on the game. This meant that most opted to use their hard-earned in-game currency to purchase Runes and cold cash to unlock champions. Since Runes are going free, that is a big chunk taken away from the revenue sheets of the company.
The rework for Runes is slated to arrive in November this year. However, Riot Games has warned previously that external factors could force the development team to push the date further. This is one of the largest and most important updates in the history of League of Legends. Hence, why the developer is taking it slow.