Skip to main content

Why it took a decade for Riot to follow League of Legends with a new game

Why it took a decade for Riot to follow League of Legends with a new game

Share this story

Illustrations by Alex Castro / The Verge

A decade after League of Legends first debuted, Riot Games is finally ready to announce its next release — or releases, as it turns out. At its 10th anniversary celebration this evening, the company unveiled a huge slate of upcoming games.

There are multiple League spinoffs, including a fighting game, digital card game, and animated series. There’s also a mysterious, in-the-works shooter codenamed “Project A” that takes place in a brand-new universe. If the first 10 years of Riot were defined almost entirely by a single game, it looks like the next decade will be about building on that foundation.

“It feels awesome,” Riot co-founder Marc Merrill tells The Verge of the company’s new lineup announcement. “It is a really exciting time as a developer when you’ve been working on things for, in many cases, years, to finally start to expose those things to the rest of the world.”

“It is a really exciting time as a developer.”

Of course, following up a game like League is an intimidating task. Despite its age, it still ranks among the most popular titles in the world, with an estimated 8 million peak concurrent daily players and vibrant professional leagues spanning multiple continents. That long-term success will inevitably put a lot of pressure on any follow-up game, but Merrill says that isn’t necessarily the reason it took so long to announce Riot’s next title.

League of Legends: Wild Rift.
League of Legends: Wild Rift.

“Riot is probably the biggest game company ever to only have one game,” he explains. “I think that there are very valid ways to look at that and critique it. On the flip side, I think there are very valid ways to talk about why that focus actually may be part of the secret sauce of the company’s success.”

According to Merrill, the scale of League allowed the company to attract new people, which in turn made it possible to form new teams around specific projects. “In order to deliver and create incredible games, you need the best people, you need the best teams,” he says. “And you don’t do that overnight.”

Along those same lines, the ongoing success of League gave the company the luxury of time. They didn’t have to rush out a new game, but instead could figure out what made sense to tackle next. Merrill says that Riot’s R&D department has explored many different ideas, the majority of which don’t make it to the actual production phase.

“Riot is only going to do a few big games over time.”

“It only makes sense to do something if we’re confident that we can elevate the experience for players,” he says. “Riot is only going to do a few big games over time, because we want players to know what to expect from Riot in terms of commitment: quality of service, great IP, really high-quality gameplay.” (He notes that smaller projects like animated shorts were a way to “build the muscle” for these more ambitious ventures.)

“Project A”
“Project A”

One of the more surprising announcements Riot made was the aforementioned “Project A.” Every other title the company spoke about today was related in some way to League, whether it’s a card game set in the same fantasy universe or a 2D fighter starring familiar characters. But “Project A” goes in a different direction: it’s a tactical shooter set in a brand-new universe. Merrill says the reason for this is simple: the world of League — in particular the silhouettes of its characters — wouldn’t work for that kind of shooter experience.

“We believe that the [intellectual property] needs to support the gameplay,” Merrill says. “In many cases, League of Legends really enhances a particular game. We think that’s true in Legends of Runeterra, we think that will be true in ‘Project L.’ With a super competitive tactical shooter, that has incredibly tight gunplay, where the skill ceiling is kind of an infinite curve, League IP would actually do a disservice to that game.”

According to Merrill, it also made sense to announce a group of games, rather than one title that would have the burden of being the game to follow up League of Legends. As the company looks toward its next decade, this was a chance to show a new direction for Riot, one that aims to build off of the success of League in a variety of ways. “We think that when people see it all together, rather than one in isolation, they’re going to understand it more,” says Merrill.

Today’s Storystream

Feed refreshed Sep 24 Striking out

E
External Link
Emma RothSep 24
California Governor Gavin Newsom vetoes the state’s “BitLicense” law.

The bill, called the Digital Financial Assets Law, would establish a regulatory framework for companies that transact with cryptocurrency in the state, similar to New York’s BitLicense system. In a statement, Newsom says it’s “premature to lock a licensing structure” and that implementing such a program is a “costly undertaking:”

A more flexible approach is needed to ensure regulatory oversight can keep up with rapidly evolving technology and use cases, and is tailored with the proper tools to address trends and mitigate consumer harm.


A
Youtube
Andrew WebsterSep 24
Look at this Thing.

At its Tudum event today, Netflix showed off a new clip from the Tim Burton series Wednesday, which focused on a very important character: the sentient hand known as Thing. The full series starts streaming on November 23rd.


A
The Verge
Andrew WebsterSep 24
Get ready for some Netflix news.

At 1PM ET today Netflix is streaming its second annual Tudum event, where you can expect to hear news about and see trailers from its biggest franchises, including The Witcher and Bridgerton. I’ll be covering the event live alongside my colleague Charles Pulliam-Moore, and you can also watch along at the link below. There will be lots of expected names during the stream, but I have my fingers crossed for a new season of Hemlock Grove.


A
Andrew WebsterSep 24
Looking for something to do this weekend?

Why not hang out on the couch playing video games and watching TV. It’s a good time for it, with intriguing recent releases like Return to Monkey Island, Session: Skate Sim, and the Star Wars spinoff Andor. Or you could check out some of the new anime on Netflix, including Thermae Romae Novae (pictured below), which is my personal favorite time-traveling story about bathing.


A screenshot from the Netflix anime Thermae Romae Novae.
Thermae Romae Novae.
Image: Netflix
J
Twitter
Jay PetersSep 23
Twitch’s creators SVP is leaving the company.

Constance Knight, Twitch’s senior vice president of global creators, is leaving for a new opportunity, according to Bloomberg’s Cecilia D’Anastasio. Knight shared her departure with staff on the same day Twitch announced impending cuts to how much its biggest streamers will earn from subscriptions.


T
Twitter
Tom WarrenSep 23
Has the Windows 11 2022 Update made your gaming PC stutter?

Nvidia GPU owners have been complaining of stuttering and poor frame rates with the latest Windows 11 update, but thankfully there’s a fix. Nvidia has identified an issue with its GeForce Experience overlay and the Windows 11 2022 Update (22H2). A fix is available in beta from Nvidia’s website.


A
External Link
If you’re using crash detection on the iPhone 14, invest in a really good phone mount.

Motorcycle owner Douglas Sonders has a cautionary tale in Jalopnik today about the iPhone 14’s new crash detection feature. He was riding his LiveWire One motorcycle down the West Side Highway at about 60 mph when he hit a bump, causing his iPhone 14 Pro Max to fly off its handlebar mount. Soon after, his girlfriend and parents received text messages that he had been in a horrible accident, causing several hours of panic. The phone even called the police, all because it fell off the handlebars. All thanks to crash detection.

Riding a motorcycle is very dangerous, and the last thing anyone needs is to think their loved one was in a horrible crash when they weren’t. This is obviously an edge case, but it makes me wonder what other sort of false positives we see as more phones adopt this technology.


A
External Link
Ford is running out of its own Blue Oval badges.

Running out of semiconductors is one thing, but running out of your own iconic nameplates is just downright brutal. The Wall Street Journal reports badge and nameplate shortages are impacting the automaker's popular F-series pickup lineup, delaying deliveries and causing general chaos.

Some executives are even proposing a 3D printing workaround, but they didn’t feel like the substitutes would clear the bar. All in all, it's been a dreadful summer of supply chain setbacks for Ford, leading the company to reorganize its org chart to bring some sort of relief.