Riot Games is responsible for one of the biggest online multiplayer games in the world – League of Legends. But it’s not just that; it’s also behind the League of Legends eSports competitions, running the game and tournaments hand in hand, gaining more popularity year on year. And now it’s set to grow even further as the company announced that it’s going to be opening a brand-new studio in Shanghai, China.
The Rise of Riot Games
In 2006, Riot Games was created by two university friends who had a common love for video games and a passion for creating a game with longevity. Disillusioned by developers that release game after game, they believed games worked best if they were released for free and had updates, patches, perks, levels, and much more that came at a later date.
It was something that would give the game longevity and inspire a loyal fan base. And in 2009, along came League of Legends, a free-to-play game that is now known by millions across the globe. It’s become a game that listens to its players, becoming more of a gaming community rather than something you’d just sit down and play.
Often, gaming developers would listen to players and note their feedback to incorporate it into the next release. As the company grew and expanded its offices across the world, the game’s popularity grew as well. Not just with people playing, but with people watching, and this saw Riot Games move into the eSports arena, holding its own tournaments and championships. Now, with a move into the Far East, things are going to get even better.
Reaching Out to China
Okay, so for those of us who keep up to date with what’s going on behind the scenes, we already know that Tencent, a Chinese gaming giant, owns riot Games. And yes, there are those of us who might question how much influence Chinese companies have on Riot Games. But there’s been a lot of reassurance that Tencent acts as the publisher, letting Riot Games operate on its own.
This isn’t anything to be concerned about because when you look at how long Tencent has been in control (since 2011), they’ve let Riot Games continue as they have. All this means is that it will be easier to expand into the Chinese market and leverage the opportunities there – provided the Chinese Government allows it. Opportunities for employees and for gamers alike!
The new studio is set to open in Shanghai, focusing on creating new games for players on a global scale. It’ll also be good for the economy, with hundreds of roles being made available for games developers and designers in China. It’s also a good time for this move to happen as PC gaming is hugely popular in China, making more than 32% of game revenue and accounts for almost 45% of gamers. With so many passionate players in China enjoying League of Legends, and the continued growth of League of Legends eSports, it’s exciting times ahead.
What can we expect?
Of course, we can expect new content for League of Legends, and with more people working on it, we can probably expect it sooner too. But we’ll also see a massive contribution to the eSports side of things. Riot Games is already responsible for one of the biggest eSports leagues globally, including the League of Legends Championship Series and the World Championship.
Over the years, it’s become a commercial success, with people just enjoying watching the competition as opposed to playing. Of course, it’s also attracted the interest of sponsors and betting companies that love to find emerging markets and giving more things for fans to enjoy.
Now, with more opportunities on hand, we can expect a lot more. In 2020 the League of Legends World Championship was held in China, and again in 2021. This market is estimated to generate over $1 billion in revenue, with the majority of that sum coming from China. But as well as huge commercial opportunities, we can look forward to new games emerging from Shanghai.
Mobile games are popular, even more so in China, and make up the biggest portion of the gaming revenue. So now imagine League of Legends expanding onto mobile – more so than it has done on its Wild Rift offering. Once that launches in China, as well as any new propositions, it’s going to a gaming explosion that will take the world by storm! And will there be a mobile eSports league to follow? Let’s wait and see.