Riot is abandoning its isolationist operations, looking to the future, and expanding beyond the safe confines of its flagship MOBA.
Until recently, Riot Games was an indie developer turned isolationist gaming powerhouse. The League of Legends creator operated on a plane of existence separate from the mainstream gaming industry.
Appearances at gaming shows of the ilk of The Game Awards were all but nonexistent. It has its own publishing arm, doesn’t feature on digital storefronts, runs its own events, and fundamentally plays by a different set of rules.
With the might of a game that has secured a seemingly immovable berth as the world’s premier eSport and millions of daily players, there was no reason for Riot to do otherwise. It’s an enviable position that few other games apart from maybe Fortnite can relate to.
Now, Riot Games seems to be re-adjusting. Reshaping its operations, looking to the future, and expanding beyond the safe confines of its flagship MOBA.
In October, the winds of change sweeping through Riot were clear for all to see. To commemorate the tenth anniversary of League of Legends, the studio drew back the curtain on six new games. From digital collectible card game Runeterra to Diablo-like dungeon crawler MMO Project F, by way of Project F, a tactical FPS redolent of Overwatch, Riot heads into uncharted territory.
Riot lined up in earnest alongside the greats of the gaming world yesterday and featured for the first time in The Game Awards’ kaleidoscopic conveyor belt of reveals and announcements, unveiling no less than two games.
Unsurprisingly, both are based on the League of Legends franchise, but they are single-player narrative-driven titles. Both are via Riot’s newly announced Riot Forge, a publishing branch that sees third-party partner studios pitch and then develop ‘completable’ games set in the League of Legends universe.
Ruined King: A League of Legends Story is a turn-based role-playing game from Airship Syndicate. CONV/RGENCE: A League of Legends Story is an action platformer starring League favorite Ekko percolating over at Double Stallion Games.
League of Legends as a standalone multiplayer MOBA has an expiry date. The problem is that we don’t know when that day will come. Riot Games appears all too aware of this and is cleverly hedging its bets elsewhere. If that means cozying up to the rest of the industry, then so be it.