Traditionally, most software patches have primarily fixed bugs or improved performance in previously released software. However, modern computer games use patches not only to fix software but to change gameplay, as well. Despite the importance of changes in gameplay to both the players and the game designers, there is little or no published results nor 3rd party Websites that analyze game data along with patch data. We analyzed the effect of patches on gameplay for what may be the most popular computer game in the world, Riot Games League of Legends (LoL). Our methods: (1) harvested all available patch data—over 160 patch files with over 7700 patch changes—and created a novel taxonomy to classifying the patch changes; (2) gathered game statistics from over 11,000 players and over 465,000 games; (3) analyzed game data and patch data separately and in combination to gather insights into the impact of patching; and (4) developed a publicly accessible Web site that allows for interactive exploration of game data and the corresponding patches. Analysis of the data shows that Riot Games applies patch changes to LoL gameplay twice each day on average, about 10× more often than Riot Games patches LoL bugs. Patches tend to keep player-chosen champions close to a win rate of 50%. While most gameplay patch changes can be categorized and quantified, the effects of patches are not straightforward and require interpretation of patch text in order to fully understand their impact.
Claypool, M., Kica, A., La Manna, A., O’Donnell, L., & Paolillo, T. (2017). On the Impact of Software Patching on Gameplay for the League of Legends Computer Game. The Computer Games Journal, 6(1–2), 33–61. https://doi.org/10.1007/s40869-017-0032-9
*denotes a WPI undergraduate student author