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Rioter Maple Nectar shares hotfix philosophy in wake of recent Janna nerfs

Rioter Maple Nectar explained the general philosophy of League of Legends hotfixes with a dev corner post on Monday.
Rioter Maple Nectar explained the general philosophy of League of Legends hotfixes with a dev corner post on Monday. Photo courtesy of Riot Games

Rioter Maple Nectar explained the general philosophy of League of Legends hotfixes with a dev corner post on Monday, in the context of the recent hotfix nerfs to Janna.

“Balance hotfixing is incredibly powerful, but it’s also dangerous,” he wrote. “Hotfix too much and it looks like we don’t have our shit together, hotfix too little (when it’s necessary), and players may have to deal with a shitty situation longer than they’re happy with. When it comes to newly released content, be it a new champion, new item, or an update, our stance is that we’re going to be more than happy to pull the hotfix trigger if we feel the situation necessitates it. When their power ends up being stronger/weaker than we’re happy with, we believe it’s overall better to quickly hotfix out some numbers changes before everyone settles into the update, versus waiting two weeks and then making everyone do more re-learning in the next full patch.”

Maple Nectar explains that the recent increase of hotfixes has been thanks to improved technology called “micropatching” that allows the team to ship quick changes in a short time frame. Before micropatching, hotfixes were a daunting challenge for the team, as it took a lot of time and effort in order to ship those changes in a timely manner.

In the context of the most recent hotfix with Janna, Riot seems to have based their decisions largely on her win rate, although Maple Nectar clarifies that it wasn’t the only factor. In the current patch 7.19, Riot shipped a number of changes to her kit, making aggressive play more appealing with boosts to her basic attacks while toning down her passive nature with nerfs to her shield. Yet the already high win rate increased even further, which triggered another look into her change.

“We underestimated how quickly Janna players would adapt to the more aggro playstyle, and overestimated how quickly players would figure out how to play around Janna in the lane phase,” Maple Nectar wrote. “This is borne out in her initial performance stats, which were on the high side, so we reacted.”

Any further changes to Janna might be pushed back to a later time as she’s sitting at a much more reasonable win rate of 53.8 percent, and more time may be needed since the new rune system will shake up the meta in a large way. Maple Nectar expects the future “to be a hot mess for a little bit,” and will make any hotfixes in the near future rather “temporal.”

Janna isn’t the first champion to get immediate hotfix changes after a patch was shipped. Sivir got one for patch 7.15 and Ornn got a hotfix in the middle of 7.17. As hotfixes become a more viable tool to address issues in the game, hotfixes will continue to be in League of Legends’ future.

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