Riot Look Set to Excel in 2020
Riot have been doing incredibly well recently. Not only did they deliver an absolutely incredible World Series finale but they also innovated in so many other ways. Whether it was True Damage, insane holographic projections, the reveal of multiple other working titles, or the recent Riot Forge: they’re taking no prisoners in 2020.
So with that in mind, how’s Riot really doing, and what can we expect from these new titles, but also their crowning glory, League of Legends?
First up, and to digress a little, Teamfight Tactics needs to be talked about. Arriving to a huge audience, and smashing Twitch viewing numbers, it now sits at around 16,000 active viewers. This is down considerably from where it used to be, at around 30,000. What’s interesting about this, is that DOTA Underlords, which - for all intents and purposes - is muscling in on the same territory, is also struggling. From an all-time peak of 200,000 concurrent players, to 12,000, the question has to be asked whether autochess has longevity. Fundamentally, a players getting bored of its long match times, and odd rules?
In contrast, and back to League of Legends, the game continues to go from strength to strength. With an estimated 115 million active players, it’s fair to say the game continues to grow at an incredible pace. You only have to look at the Worlds Finals viewing figures, at over 90 million views, to see that Riot are still doing incredible work in the MOBA scene. Again, and to contrast, DOTA 2 continues to lose players, with a far small concurrent following (700,000). By any standing, Riot is killing Valve.
If Riot is doing anything right with League of Legends, it’s involving the community across multiple mediums. Whether it’s True Damage and their live performances, comics, lore entries - even the new Champion reveals. It’s an exciting community to be a part of, and one that is constantly providing updates, feedback and and tidbits to its fans. Not only that, but there’s a Champion for everyone, and each have brilliant personalities.
As its community continues to grow, alongside its ESports push, it’s no surprise that multiple companies want to get in on the action. Whether it’s sponsors, casinos (with new slots that will arrive in 2020) or celebrity endorsements, at this stage it’s simply a case of, “how big can Riot go?”.
It’s on that subject, then, that Riot clearly intend to take the knife to most of what Valve has to offer. Considering League of Legends and Teamfight Tactics both stomp over their rivals, it’s with interest to see every new game on the horizon is aiming squarely at what’s left. Whether it’s Project A preparing to take down CS:GO (which, let’s be honest, it absolutely will). Or whether it’s Legends of Runeterra that’ll not only crush an irrelevant Artifact, but dominate Hearthstone (it’s a vastly superior game).
The wider question is whether the likes of Valve and Blizzard can stop the rot, against a company that has not only put much of its woes behind it (every new game being developed by Riot has a lead female developer).
As it stands, both of these studios are struggling with a combination of bad PR, poor titles, or a lack of ambition. Even Diablo 4, newly revealed, really looks rather rubbish in comparison to Path of Exile 2, and Valve - struggling to gain any traction from anything - have lurched back to Half-Life. While that’s welcome for most fans, the £1000 price tag to play it isn’t.
If either studio are to find their feet and not see their house of cards come tumbling down, they really need to learn from what Riot are doing. Most importantly, they need to play a far greater role in listening to their communities. Whether that’s balance issues, the need for slicker, quicker content, or even a quick balance tweak. Riot excel at this, and - for the most part - put most companies to shame.
So besides the fact that the competition is poor, and Riot go from strength to strength, the final main attraction in 2020 (besides Project A), has to be the World Championship. Heading over to Shanghai, it looks set to attract over 100 million viewers and revolutionize the way we look at ESports. I suspect, based on that, there’ll be a fair few bets made on who’s the winner (view this visual infographics of new casino sites 2020 if you fancy an early flutter).
While Riot have every chance of putting a foot wrong as they stride confidently into the New Year, we don’t think it’s likely. If nothing else, and should their new titles play as well as they look, we think Riot look set to create something truly special for their fans and the wider industry. Who doesn’t want to see a behemoth of a development studio not only succeed, but break boundaries at the same time?
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