The game developer behind the MOBA sensation celebrated its 10th anniversary in style, by announcing a raft of exciting new games; but is it a coincidence that this strategy seems a little close to their chilly competitor?
We remember, way back when the online multiplayer scene was still fresh and new, you’d speak to a friend about their online games.
“Oh, you play WoW? You should try League of Legends!”
Some did, some loved it, and indeed some still play one or both games. But even though developers Riot and Blizzard were never exactly locking horns, they’ve always been oddly affiliated. Both make a massively popular, long-running, cartoonish, multiplayer fantasy game and despite those games being very different, for many there is a strong association, if not a direct link.
So as League of Legends came upon its 10th anniversary (World of Warcraft hitting its 15th around the same time) it was a huge surprise when Riot decided to go all out and take on Blizzard’s currently dominating online empire. On the 16th of October, Riot announced three games, hinted a further four and even revealed a TV show.
How does that throw down the gauntlet? Well, of the games announced, we have a card game (Hearthstone?), a mobile game (Don’t you all have phones?) and a redesigned version of LoL. The real kicker: two of the other projects in development are for an FPS and, potentially, an open world multiplayer game.
Riot obviously haven’t come out and said ‘come get some’ to Blizzard. But of these games alone, at least four of them are going head to head in the same genre as an existing Blizzard property.
|MMO||Project F||WoW or Diablo|
|Online FPS||Project A||Overwatch|
|Card game||Legends of Runeterra||Hearthstone|
|Mobile battles||LoL: Wild Rift||Diablo Immortal|
These are in addition to the other games Riot announced:
- Teamfight Tactics – mobile tactic games
- Project L: Arcade style fighting game
- Football Manager Style Esports management Sim…?
It’s clear that not all of these are in direct competition, but with Riot focusing on LoL for so long, the scope of this whole project is fascinating. We look forward to seeing how it turns out.
What’s happening with Blizzard?
Blizzard hasn’t had a great couple of years from a PR perspective. Following on from the success of Overwatch, coupled with the first good WoW expansion in some time with Legion they had quite a big boost which has been followed by stagnation.
On top of that, an increasingly corporate approach, not dissimilar to EA, hasn’t been popular with Blizzard fans, who would like to see more actual content than WoW dailies, re-skins and lootbox type mechanics.
And that’s without even mentioning the recent Hearthstone catastrophe, where a competitive Hearthstone player was immediately censored, banned and stripped of winnings for voicing their disgust at the political situation in Hong Kong, a situation which has been in the global news for months.
It wasn’t what happened; most non political companies will generally avoid political statements as they try and stay out of things. But the manner in which the player was treated sent a clear message that appeasing their biggest market was far more important than respecting their customers and fans. Since then, an additional three players have been banned for making their own statements, with others taking to social media to show their own feelings.
Will Riot really take on Blizzard?
It’s hard to say. Even though numbers for all of Blizzards properties are falling, the fact is they remain one of the largest developers in the world; and with their sister company Activision producing huge AAA titles like Call of Duty, they have the financial clout to stick around, whatever Riot throws at them.
It has to be said though, one of the reasons huge companies like EA and Blizzard get away with poor corporate practice is the lack of choice for alternatives. Want to play a football game? It’s FIFA. Wanna play an MMORPG? It’s WoW. They both produce the most polished, well-executed versions of many types of game.
So hopefully Riot, if not transforming the landscape, can at least give Blizzard something to think about by raising decent competition. We look forward to trying some of the new games from Riot over the coming months and years.
Want to know what Riot has announced? Check out our blog here for all of the LoL 10th anniversary announcements.