History of Riot Games

Riot Games has become arguably one of the biggest game companies in the world in the last decade. They had the highest number of online player base at one point with around 110 million players a month, which is roughly 1/68 people around the world. Brandon Beck & Marc Merrill, two business students from the University of Southern California founded Riot Games in September of 2006 in Santa Monica, California. This was done with the help of angel investors and family funds wherein they raised a sum of US$1.5 million to launch their esteemed company.

Steve Feak was one of the first people Riot hired as a developer, who made DotA Allstars, a game that has been said to lay path to all future Multiplayer Online Battle Arena games to come in the years. Steve Feak was also part of the original team that created a game Defence of the Ancients. A Warcraft 3 modification that was inspired by a StarCraft map. The mod entailed that two players spawn at opposite sides of the map who would take down the opponent’s “Ancient” or base. This served as a base as they created their own IP, “Onslaught” which in later years started to be called League of Legends.

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E-Sports & Tournaments

The most novel attribute to League of Legend’s business model is that it’s completely free-to-play. The micro-transactions that the game introduces after the release are merely for cosmetics, wherein the addition content added to the game ever after are through free updates. Valve’s own exclusive MOBA title Dota 2 released in July 2013, which quickly garnered a player base of its own. With League of Legends being one of their most successful MOBAs, Riot was able to mould their formula for the perfect e-sports entertainment across the years.

Each year more and more millions of people were starting to watch League of Legends: Worlds, essentially the World Cup for League of Legends. In 2011, Worlds saw nine-hundred and fifty thousand unique viewers, with every year gaining an average of fifteen million viewers. In 2019, the Worlds series for League of Legends peaked at one billion unique viewers. They were able to accelerate this growth not just because it was a sport, but the games themselves were a spectacle. The grandeur of the production levels was complimented with live commentators who would amass the culture of memes and fan theories from the internet.

Riot & the Music Industry

From the early years of promotions, Riot has partnered with the music industry in a way that the visuals they create have the desired impact on the demographics that are targeted. Namely, artists like Imagine Dragons, Zedd, Bea Miller, Denzel Curry & Becky G have collaborated on music videos that are released periodically for new characters, maps, or seasonal updates for the game.

Besides collaborations, Riot has created three virtual bands with original characters that play live shows with holographic projections. These bands ranged from Pentakill playing metal music, K/DA being a virtual K-pop group and True Damage, a experimental electro-pop collaboration with various artists- Becky G, Keke Palmer, SOYEON, Thutmose & Duckworth. The music collaboration of True Damage put up an Opening Ceremony show of the 2019 World Championship Finals of their song “GIANTS”. The holographic projections allowed the League champions who are part of the virtual band group to glitch in and out of existence and exchanging places with the artist representing them in the real world. The stage and lighting were so meticulously planned that sometimes when the lights dim, digital recreations of the real-life singer could be shown doing impossible feats.

Besides entertainment, Riot released the SPECTRUM cosmetic skin bundle for their first-person shooting game Valorant. This was in collaboration with the electronic DJ and producer, Zedd, who used his music with the game’s in-game mechanics to augment a superior gaming performance, whilst making use of the cosmetic.


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Arcane: A Netflix Special

The recent Netflix series adapted Arcane: League of Legends as an exclusive series, that was adapted by French animation studio Fortiche under the supervision of Riot Games. It serves to give a prequel story about a number of characters from Piltover, the city the game is set in including one of the game’s most recognizable character: Jinx.

The series has been hailed as a visual masterpiece as the style of animation used includes 3-D models with 2-D shading and flat colours. This gives the show an overall airbrushed look as though of a painting, and along with the weight of action, emotions and character stories, really delivers an impactful visual story. With the action scenes packing quite heavy punches towards the fag end of the show, the whole of Season 1 is distinctly separated into three acts. Each of the acts was released over consecutive weeks, as they are connected stories that form the bigger picture of the lore and backstory that is trying to be introduced. The icing on the cake includes an impressive voice cast that provide a layer of emotion that makes the show even more immersive. Forums on animated movies are in the talks of how this unique style of art that come to life in emotional fight sequences which is paralleled to that of another animated masterpiece- Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse. Bringing compelling characters and an endearing story, Arcane works on world-building through a form of visual storytelling from the very beginning of the series. The striking visuals only help building the lore and break barriers as to what is possible in making TV great again.

The Importance of Debugging

Riot’s free-to-play business model has been an archetype for many games that have been garnering popularity in the last few years. This business model makes it so that the only paid feature of the game is for cosmetic reasons, and they do not affect the gameplay mechanics of the game in question. This also means that developers intend to prologue the life cycle of these projects until the next most innovative game is announced from their end.

This means that developers are constantly on their feet, fixing bugs, glitches and sending in patch notes to help their communities get the quickest fix. The constant debugging helps to understand better what the community needs with regular feedbacks from the gamers and also keeps the game testers’ minds sharp.

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A Riotous Lifestyle

Riot Games is now an agent of the video games industry that is going to be a constant for the foreseeable future. They are now attempting to do what top tech giants like Amazon, Apple and Google are doing- dipping their toes in a variety of industries to expand further using their brand recognition, reputation & capital as a means of gaining market share quickly. An ecosystem based around their brand such as what Nintendo has created with the development of Pokémon GO. Riot’s methodology to do the same is through creating three virtual bands, arcade games, a board name, merchandise, an anime series, mobile games and seven newer projects that have not been disclosed yet. The company is set to create an entertainment industry unto itself and is going on a path that is unique, true and clear.

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