It’s no surprise that League of Legends fans don’t like Garena, the Singapore-based company that received the license from Riot Games to run LoL in Southeast Asia and Taiwan. Some players from that region have even admitted to playing on North American servers, willing to deal with 200 ping just to avoid dealing with Garena.
So what has Garena done to be so often called “shady” and “scummy” by the community at large? One Reddit user looked closely into Garena’s Vietnamese branch recently to shed some light on exactly why players in Southeast Asia are sick of dealing with them. Riot announced their partnership with Garena in the summer of 2010 and fans were resentful almost immediately when they witnessed how Garena blatantly attempted to “milk” League of Legends players for more money.
Upon logging in, players would be greeted by pop-ups advertising sales and minigames that Garena had in their own catalog. But even more offensive were their events, of which they have a lot of. The events basically consisted of purchasing Riot Points to earn lootboxes and backgrounds. They even used these events to lock new or popular skins. For one to two weeks, certain skins would be “locked” unless players participated in the events, which consisted of luck-based games.
Fans became even more frustrated when Garena started to permanently lock some skins without any explanation. The Reddit poster recalled that it’s been happening since 2016, when Garena locked a number of skins from the Worldbreakers set behind paid events. They recalled various skins being locked including Nightbringer Vladimir, Pulsefire Thresh, and Mecha Asol. To get the skins, players would have to purchase RP and then participate in a random drawing event. Some of the skins were only available if you purchased an “expensive version” of the event pass.
Last year, Garena Singapore announced that their currency, Shells, would have a new Riot Points conversion rate. This was to fix pricing in an attempt to match global skin prices, but Garena Vietnam did not participate. Some have felt that Garena Vietnam was refusing to abide Riot’s new price chart, since their own prices varied greatly.
Epic tier one skins are tagged at varying amounts. Nightbringer Lee Sin was priced higher than some Legendary skins despite being just Epic. The Legendary skins themselves also seemed to be marked up by almost 100 Riot Points, much higher than other regions’ default amount.
To make the skin situation even worse, the Vietnamese region has 45 Mythic skins and 180 Legendary skins. By comparison, English clients only have 59 Legendary skins.
It has been posited that Garena has only increased its more shady dealings after significant financial losses at its parent company.
A Vietnamese League of Legends player noted that Riot had promised a free Legendary skin for all players during their 10th Anniversary event. Players on Vietnamese servers received an Epic skin instead, “because Garena treats the skin as a Legendary.”
Riot doesn’t seem particularly interested in commenting on its partner’s business practices. Riot does not enforce its pricing on Garena, which acts with significant autonomy. Sadly for fans and players in the region, it appears that nothing can really be done for the time being.