Riot Games has not had a particularly great time in the spotlight as of late. From the backlash that erupted following the gender discrimination saga to the racism row with Rick Fox and Echo Fox to the rumours of conflict between their parent company Tencent and themselves, this could be a year and a bit that Riot Games would like to forget.
As a company that is owned by a Chinese firm, matters could have gotten considerably worse for them, as evident by the constant missteps of Activision-Blizzard, yet Riot Games has gone ahead and set themselves up to potentially become a bigger juggernaut than Valve if everything goes their way.
And not just in the esports scene.
Riot Games has notoriously taken flak for the “s” in “Games” as up until now, it only had League of Legends to talk about. Which is no small thing, the game is one of the biggest in the world. As the company celebrated ten years of such an impactful game, it revealed the wealth of projects that it had been working on and really stunned the community in the best way possible.
Whilst many of the projects had been rumoured before, from the fighting game to the animated series, seeing it all for real and just how far along it all was in development, sent the community and large parts outside of it into a frenzy. Especially those fans who had been craving more ways to delve into the landof Runeterra, the fictional world that League of Legends is based in.
The big reveal
One of the big reveals is that League of Legends is coming to mobile, being redesigned to work intuitively and seamlessly on your phone and not just a garbage port as is so often the case. Teamfight Tactics, Riot Games’ version of the Dota 2 mod Auto Chess, which is already played on desktop will also be coming to mobile.
The announcement that is arguably one of the most exciting ones is the launch of their animated series titled Arcane. From the teaser trailer and with the discussion in the subreddit, it was revealed that the show will unpack the origin story of Vi and Jinx, two playable characters in League of Legends. Because it features their origin stories, there are theories that other playable characters such as Ekko, Viktor, Warwick and many others may also feature in Arcane.
A project that had been making the rounds in the rumour mill for some time now, Riot Games’ fighting game currently titled Project L was teased during the ten year celebration, showcasing Darius dunking on Ahri. The fighting game was already confirmed to be in the works earlier this year at EVO 2019, so this was probably the least surprising announcement.
Despite the absolute failure that was Artifact, Valve’s attempt at a card game, Riot Games clearly feel they can do better and announced their own card game, called Legends of Runeterra. The timing will be even better than they expected, as Activision-Blizzard is embroiled in a Hearthstone backlash following the punishment of players supporting the Free Hong Kong movement.
Riot games also announced an RPG game titled Project F which looks exciting, along with a LoL Esports Manager game, which is a no-brainer really and something the League of Legends community has requested for years now.
The drop that was the most controversial however, had to be Riot Games’ shooter, currently titled Project Ares or Project A. The game looks to be a mix of Counter-Strike, Team Fortress 2 and Overwatch. Essentially, it’s an ability-based team shooter. The controversy really comes from various FPS communities feeling threatened by its arrival and immediately dismissing it as a copycat game that isn’t worth the attention.
To watch all the video footage detailing the above, check out our post collating them here.
Riot Games is just a copycat studio
The ludicrous statement that Riot Games just steals games is rooted in its origin story that leaves the Dota and League community in a constant, bitter and petty war. Can you hear the Valve fanboys raise their pitchforks as they scream the name Pendragon? When Apex Legends came out, everyone praised the game for revitalising the Battle Royale genre, not accusing them of copying another game.
However when Riot Games is concerned, people can’t seem to be sensible and have to embark on hot takes that end up sounding stupid. The same people that are playing Apex Legends every night are accusing Riot Games of copying shooter games to create Project A. To quote one of my favourite films in the form of The Social Network:
Look, a guy who builds a nice chair doesn’t owe money to everyone who ever has built a chair, okay?Mark Zuckerberg (Jesse Eisenberg)
Riot Games clearly feels they can do a better job or at least bring something new to the genre and so that’s what they’re attempting to do. The market will decide if they’ve succeeded or not. Acting threatened that there’s a new contender to the throne is churlish and reeks of insecurity. Dressing it up as some moral argument is downright stupid.
A large part of the business world we live in is taking something that already exists and making it better. In this day and age where everything is being created almost daily, the reality is very rarely can you come up with something entirely original. Where was the outrage of “copycat” when Valve released Artifact?
Artifact is also a great example that trying to improve on an existing model is also not a surefire way to succeed. It still requires doing something new and doing it well and as we all know by now, Valve failed dismally with Artifact. The very same fate could await Riot Games.
Another reason I’m perplexed that people seem upset with Riot Games is that this is good for gaming as a whole. Valve players have complained since the beginning of time about how little the company listens to them and how they have no way of forcing the company to speak more or take them more seriously.
A strong competitor in the scene does just that. It forces Valve to work harder to keep their fanbase happy and prevent them from moving elsewhere. The same goes for Activision-Blizzard. If anything, they will be more threatened by the moves Riot Games have made. Even Riot Games knows this, as one developer quipped during the announcement of its mobile games with the line “It turns out that you guys actually do have phones,” which referenced the awful way that Activision-Blizzard handled the negative feedback to their mobile Diablo game announcement.
Whether you like it or not, Riot Games has laid down the gauntlet. They’re here to shake up the industry and take a shot at the throne. That goes for the animation community too, as it shouldn’t be underestimated just how in demand an animation series for League of Legends is. Whether they succeed at this ambitious plan or not remains to be seen.
A misstep in the Free Hong Kong movement could be damaging, particularly because these projects are still in the early, vulnerable stages. What we do know is that this is a studio that built one of the largest games and esports scenes in the world. You’d either be brave or stupid, or both, to bet against them.
Last Updated: October 17, 2019