• Launched in 2009, the online and free-to-play

    League of Legends game

    has established itself as the most played in the world, and has become an ambassador of esports

  • The license has also extended beyond video games, with comics, bands and the animated series

    Arcane

    , hits on Netflix.

  • Riot Games CEO Nicolo Laurent discusses the project for

    20 Minutes

    , and the challenges that await

    League of Legends

    … by the end of the century

No need to present

League of Legends

(

LoL

), the video game with 180 million players around the world, which has become the ambassador of esport with its professional scene, its international and local leagues, and its audience, until 100 million spectators online for the 2019 world championships. He also won the Game Award for best esport game on Thursday for the third consecutive year. At the same time, its publisher Riot Games unveiled a new music album,

Sessions: Diana

, intended for streamers and content creators.

Further proof that

LoL

is now more than a video game, the

Arcane

animated series

on Netflix has met with critical and (general) public success which has surprised even its creators.

The CEO of Riot Games, the French Nicolo Laurent, looks back on this separate project (he almost stopped) and the challenges that await

League to Legends

to expand its universe.

Did you expect such success for the "Arcane" series?

We were still a little surprised.

We were confident about the animation part, because we have been working for years with the French studio Fortiche.

Rather, the surprise came from the reception of the story.

We liked of course what we said, but we were also afraid of being in our bubble, of being biased.

But no, the people were there and the reviews very positive.

"Arcane" is a Netflix animated series but also a derivative product "League of Legends", what was the intention, the starting ambition?

Riot has made quite a few music videos, related to champions and

LoL

stories

, each time with millions of views on YouTube and always as the first comment: "When will the movie

League of Legends

 ?" We wanted to meet this expectation, but it's difficult to write a good story, to reach the top level of animation, and we therefore made almost all the mistakes along the way. It took a long time, six long years, with pauses, questioning. I concluded that the best creative projects are always the most painful. (laughs)

It was only after the project was almost finished that we went to see the broadcasters, Netflix & company.

We were convinced that no one would help us given our ambitions, and we wanted to be able to stop the project along the way if necessary, to have this freedom both creative and financial.

Besides, we did.

The production of "Arcane" has stopped?

After the pilot, yes.

The Fortiche studio had grown from ten people to 300, plus a hundred at home.

The pilot was nice, but there were issues with the rest of the story, with the pace of the series.

So we stopped the time to rework the story and Fortiche took the opportunity to work on the K-Pop group K / DA.

The series resumed more than a year later.

Have you considered airing the series yourself?

Why collaborate with Netflix?

The idea ran through our heads, and still trots, to have the freedom, for example, to release episodes when we want, or to interact and integrate with the game. But we are a video game company. , not a platform.

It's another job… Even if sometimes, it's true, we preferred to do as we want.

(laughs)

Series, clips, comics, card game… Does Riot Games have the will to make “League of Legends” a multimedia universe?

Yes, but with a little nuance. We do not do it to diversify, to be on all fronts. We really do it for the players. Let me explain. I love to say that Riot Games is less a box of games than a box of gamers. That we define ourselves by the audience we target, less by the products we make. However, gamers play, eat, work, watch series… So we try to imagine experiences for them, but be careful, not all of them, we are not going to do food or transport. Gamers are watching more and more game-related content: influencers on Twitch, guides on YouTube, series linked to a universe ...

 So

creating a

League of Legends

series or movie

was natural, and our approach was the same as for esports.

Although it may sound different.

LoL

is not just a game but also now a sport, with leagues, tournaments, stars to admire, pros to improve… It makes the game more fun, like football can be.

The same goes for movies and series, it's immediately cooler when your favorite characters have a story, a life, relationships.

It improves the gaming experience.

Have you noticed an increase in players after “Arcane”?

We are trying to quantify it.

I don't have the numbers yet, but if there is a real impact, people who start the game, who come back, who monetize more, that will allow me to increase the budget for the series.

It's like esports, even though we've lost money - and we're still losing a bit of it - the effect on the game is huge.

Because the game remains the El Dorado.

The margins are enormous there, compared to the series or to esport.

The time has come for big franchises, for versatile universes ... Is this also the state of mind at Riot?

Our desire is indeed to expand the

League of Legends

universe

, but not to exploit it like Marvel does, with all these films and series every year.

Riot, there are a lot of fans of

Star Wars

, everyone is a fan of

Star Wars

done, and I want the same for a video game license as

LoL

.

So other projects, in different formats and media, are in development?

There are a lot of them, and if I mentioned them, it would be conditional, because we can cancel them, reboot them, change them.

The only certainty: season 2 of

Arcane

is in production, and we won't have to wait six years to see it.

“League of Legends” was the only audience for Riot Games for a long time, then came “Valorant”.

Are others possible?

Not really.

In fact, I am more in favor of putting all my eggs in the same basket, a beautiful basket that is improved, enlarged.

This basket is of course

League of Legends

.

With each new game, we ask our research and development teams to always start with the

LoL

universe

, whether for a card game, action game or role-playing game.

It is only if the universe is not suitable that the question of creating a new PI is considered.

Valorant

, we tried to do it several times in the

LoL

universe

, but it did not work in terms of gameplay.

How do you see the future of esports for "League of Legends"?

There are still debates about esports, but if you want my opinion, by the turn of the century, the biggest sports in the world will be esports.

There will still be traditional sports, like soccer or basketball, but a good half of the top 10 will be esports.

It is a fundamental movement and it is our horizon at Riot Games.

We approach esport with the same professionalism and the same ambitions as traditional sports can.

And if Riot could have 2 or 3 of these top esports, that wouldn't be bad.

Do you watch what the competition is doing?

Does she inspire you?

We're big Blizzard fans, we grew up with the huge franchises they created like

World of Warcraft

or

Overwatch

.

But we are rather at a stage where we have to write our own history.

So we look less at the competition than we listen to the players.

How have the players evolved in 10 years?

Much has changed in 10 years.

Thanks to the Internet, there is a form of disintermediation, that is to say that the relationship between creators and consumers is closer.

We can no longer "stuck" the player.

Before, there was marketing and distribution, which of course still exist.

But creativity and quality have become the core values, and that's really great.

Culture

eSport: "League of Legends" wants to write its legend in France

Culture

“World of Warcraft”, “Final Fantasy XIV”, “Dofus”… How do MMORPGs live on a daily basis?

  • Netflix

  • Esport

  • Culture

  • Video games

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