Are we about to witness the birth of one of the biggest money-makers in gaming? Reuters has reported Tencent and Riot are collaborating on a mobile version of League of Legends.
Sources told Reuters the project has been in development for over a year, though it’s unlikely to arrive anytime in 2019. Apparently the reason we haven’t seen a League of Legends mobile game before is due to tensions between the companies on how to capitalise on the game. One source told Reuters a League of Legends mobile version had initially been proposed by Tencent several years ago, but Riot rejected the idea.
For its own part, Tencent apparently inflamed tensions when it launched a western version of its hugely successful mobile game Honor of Kings (which is known to have peaked at over 200m players in China). Revamped version Arena of Valor was seen as Tencent’s attempt to make a play for western console gamers, and was released on both mobile and Switch. Unfortunately, it’s so far failed to make much of an impact.
League of Legends certainly has the potential to solve Tencent’s western market issue – which seems particularly important given China’s increasing strictness over game approvals. Although originally released all the way back in 2009, the PC version brought in $1.4bn (1.11bn) in revenue last year, which is seriously impressive for a nearly 10 year-old game. League of Legends and mobile games are both hugely popular in China, but merging the two may not be a winning combination, as the game could struggle to stand out in an already-saturated market. Not to mention it would have to get government approval – I’m looking forward to the next version of Game for Peace.
Meanwhile, in other Riot news, the company’s been in the firing line for its internal culture of sexism – and the way it’s dealing with the aftermath. Despite public outcry and a company walk-out, Riot has refused to drop its policy of forced arbitration in its ongoing gender discrimination lawsuits. While the company has promised to drop mandatory arbitration for future complaints, and is establishing a new Diversity and Inclusion Rioters Council, this is probably of little consolation to those who have already been hurt by the company’s cultural problems.