Riot Games has generated billions of dollars in the last 10 years, and in the process created a very influential esports league that covers the entire world. All this success revolved around a single video game: League of Legends. That is about to change, up to a point.
The Los Angeles-based company announced on Tuesday a list of new games, many of which are scheduled to be released next year. The new game titles will come along with an animated series based on League of Legends and a documentary funded by Riot about the origins of the game, which premiered on Netflix on Tuesday.
All new games, except one, are set in the universe of League of Legends and will feature the characters or champions of that game as the best known by League players. The new titles include a card game, a fighting game, an online multiplayer battle arena game, an open world game and an electronic sports simulator, apparently similar to the Football Manager franchise.
The non-League-based title has the code name "Project A" and is being described as a tactical shooting game, think of Rainbow Six Siege or Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, which will take place on Earth.
Fans and industry watchers have widely expected new Riot games for many years, even when the company's 10-year flagship title still sees a peak of about 8 million concurrent players daily, according to a company announcement. in September.
"We have the benefit of being able to be long term," Marc Merrill, co-founder of Riot Games, told The Washington Post. "We don't have to take out a product to meet a quarterly term or an income goal or anything else." Riot is owned by Tencent, a Chinese technology and entertainment conglomerate.
Merrill said that Hearthstone, a hugely popular card game based on Blizzard's Warcraft series, was one reason why his team reevaluated Riot's card game offer, which Merrill said has been in process for eight years and that "It has had multiple starts and stops."
"We had to adjust how we were doing things," Merrill said.
Michael Pachter, an analyst at Wedbush Securities, believes that the new games will increase Riot's revenue due to the League of Legends audience, which extends to the hundreds of millions, if all game players are included throughout the games. years.
"Their competitive advantage is the large number of League of Legends fans," he said. However, he is skeptical about the tactical shooter.
"As they expand beyond their core competencies, the risk profile increases greatly," he said. "It's like McDonald's making a steakhouse."
Merrill said the tactical shooter will try to build deeper characters and worlds compared to current games on the market, in addition to adding "wider paths for strategic depth and expression." Riot has not revealed a release date for that game.
The Riot & # 39; s League card game, called Legends of Runterra, will feature new League of Legends characters and allow players to acquire cards directly, rather than relying on luck through random packages. It is programmed for PC and mobile devices next year.
An existing League of Legends mode, called Teamfight Tactics, which is like automatic chess mixed with a real last-player battle game, will be available for mobile devices next year. League of Legend: Wild Rift, the online multiplayer arena game, will feature a five-on-five game and will be available for mobile devices next year. Riot did not announce when it will be available on consoles.
The fighting game, with the code name "Project L", is in "initial development". "Project F" is the open world game. Riot offered few details related to those games.
Current developments follow a period in which the company faced a series of problems that the media and legal actions brought to light. First came a Kotaku report and a class action lawsuit for claims of gender discrimination and sexual harassment. The class action lawsuit was resolved, although Riot said in a blog post that "gender discrimination (in payment or promotion), sexual harassment and retaliation are not systemic problems in Riot."
More than 100 Riot employees organized a strike in May for contractual clauses that require arbitration. Riot said the company will give employees the option to opt out of that clause after the current round of litigation is completed.
The Los Angeles-based company also marked its entry into Hollywood with "Arcane," an animated series that focuses on two League of Legends characters. Another new project, "League of Legends Origins," is a documentary feature film by Oscar-nominated director Leslie Iwerks. It details how the game and its community have grown over the years.
Until now, Riot's status as a single-game store contrasted with its competition in Electronic Arts and Activision Blizzard, which featured multiple high-profile games every year.
"One of the differences between Riot and Blizzard is that, in my opinion, Blizzard loves to play games in terms of being epic," Merrill said, adding that he grew up playing Blizzard games. "If Riot had a word to describe us, it would be & # 39; authentic & # 39; and good to value the things that matter most to our players and not do a lot of things that really don't matter. And I & # 39; I don't say Blizzard does that, but we're trying to be very focused. "
Now the company is ready to expand its offers.
"We always consider League of Legends as the first step for the company," he said.
© 2019 Bloomberg LP