Blizzard Blunders, Riot Games Capitalizes

After 10 years of refining League of Legends and turning it into the most successful esport in the world, Riot Games has finally started to show everyone that they intend to conquer more than the MOBA genre. After all, their player base of 100+ million might want to enjoy a card game or a good FPS when they start to get bored of leveling up champions and destroying the enemy team’s base. And what better time to make these announcements than immediately after another big blunder from one of their rivals?

The Blizzard Scandal

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ve probably learned by now about the mess that Blizzard’s been involved in these past few weeks. Blitzchung, a Hearthstone grandmaster, decided to show his support for Hong Kong after a tournament and showed up with a gas mask on-air, screaming something along these lines: “Liberate Hong Kong! Revolution of our times!”

Given Blizzard’s deep ties with China and Tencent, it was only a matter of time until the player received his punishment in a clear and totally unnecessary show of force.

“You have done well, Marius. Now I think you should have your reward!”

– Baal, “Diablo 2, Lord of Destruction”

What Blizzard failed to consider, however, was the community’s reaction to their gesture of squashing a tiny insect with a ballistic missile. And in fact, not just one insect but three of them. Because the casters also got punished severely and were fired after the incident, even though they had nothing to do with the player’s actions.

Initially, the poor soul lost all of his earnings from the tournament, was excluded from Hearthstone’s Grandmasters and was banned for a year. But shortly after their ruthless decision, taken most likely just to appease China, someone at Blizzard started to feel pity for Blitzchung. Or maybe it wasn’t pity, just the need to respond in a smarter way to a furious community that felt like Blizzard’s been changing for the worst over the last few years. From their famous “do you guys not have phones?” to ruining the career of two casters and a poor soul that dared to stand up for Hong Kong’s independence, the company has slowly but surely moved over to the dark side.

 “It’s a pity Bilbo didn’t kill him when he had the chance!”

– Frodo Baggins, “The Lord of the Rings”

After some careful tactical considerations, Blizzard finally decided to give Blitzchung his money and reduce the penalty to six months.

“Am I not merciful?!”

Commodus, “Gladiator”

Riot Games’ Announcements

And while all this was going on, someone at Riot Games did not want to miss the opportunity and so they rushed to the phone and said: “We need to reveal our plans to conquer all of esports right now! No more delays!”

It’s quite obvious and you can tell from the YouTube presentation videos that the whole thing’s been rushed. Nevertheless, Riot did insist on showing a disappointed community of gamers that they’re ready to replace or at least compete with some of the company’s they’ve started to hate, by revealing their hand very early. And what did they reveal? Two upcoming games.

Project A

You can tell from the name (or should I say its placeholder) that nobody was expecting this early announcement. Project A is practically an upcoming FPS game designed to turn into an esport that will challenge both Valve’s CS:GO as well as Blizzard’s Overwatch. And from what can be seen it’s going to be a mixture of both, borrowing mechanics and ideas but becoming something rather different in the process. It’s still too early to tell but hey, why not try your hand at a new thing if you have a massive player base that’s ready to diversify as well?

Normally, you’d think that after 20+ years of Counter-Strike and probably 5+ years (by the time it’s going to be released) of Overwatch, the FPS niche doesn’t have room for another wannabe esport. But apparently, Riot has decided to riot against the established order and declare war on Valve and Blizzard alike.

Legends of Runeterra

This is the second project that just got announced by Riot Games and it’s a card game like Hearthstone. Not much can be said about this project either, except that it has its own flavor judging by the first video that got released. However, this is another saturated market that’s brimming with titles. So again, one must ask: why make another clone of something that has been around for years? Why not try to bring something new? And the answer is obvious: because the model’s been tested and generates a lot of money. And Riot knows that their player base is loyal enough to switch to their upcoming game if they make it good enough and show their support for it, just like they’ve done with LoL.

Posted by Michele Schembri on 16th October 2019, 18:52

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