I was listening to This Week in Tech this past week with a particular guest on the panel, Jessica Lessin. She used to be a part of the Wall Street Journal and seemed to be one of the few that would be able to report on Apple rumors to the mainstream media with some sort of authority. I guess it made her pretty important in that grand scheme of market analysis and anticipation, but I haven’t really read the Wall Street Journal with any consistency, so I wouldn’t really know.
Lessin was on because she’s relatively knowledgeable about all things tech, but also because she’s not with the Wall Street Journal anymore. She’s recently brought into fully swing a paywall news site called The Information. I’ve meant to give the site a once over and try it out for the shortest amount of time I could pre-purchase in advance, but I have to admit, after previewing some of the site’s content, I ended up not even bothering to see how much it could set me back.
All because some dunce decided to bend Riot Games over the proverbial barrel intent on patronizing it in prose with traditional business wisdom.
Traditional business wisdom suggests that EA is a better game developer than Riot Games.
The article headline reads: “Riot Games Beware: One-Hit Wonders Flame Out”
Well, Eric P. Newcomer, of course one-hit wonders flame out. It would be silly to ignore all the other rumors about Riot developing new titles, such as an online card game, not to mention the co-founder’s admission that Riot develop new ideas—results one might find with five minutes at the helm of the good ship Google.com.
Compared to companies like EA, which I’m assuming this writer has to have the biggest hard-on ever for, Riot is, I concede, a company that doesn’t really publish its long-term goals. It never has. Even the with the card game they were building, I’m sure a traditional games developer public relations person would have gladly announced that they were finally getting around to making a second game in a bland press release that could give potential investors something to consider.
Riot’s only publicly stated goals are to make fun games and… make fun games. As far as I can tell.
However, Riot has taken the more Apple approach to its future roadmap, keeping as much as possible inside the company and out of the public’s eyes until it’s ready to be deployed or until the decision is made to follow through. As far as I can tell, League of Legends has a big huge sugar daddy in the form of Tencent on top of being a currency printing machine in and of itself. It’d be hard to argue that Riot Games couldn’t live without League of Legends when you consider that the company is set for at least the next decade and probably further into the future than that.
So what exactly prompted this defense of Riot Games? Don’t you think that League of Legends pales in comparison to the more skillful DOTA-clone, Dota 2?
Yes, that is true. No, I’m not going to attack Riot Games in this post because I don’t really have anything concrete to stand on other than the fact that it’s a personal preference, even though I am horrible at all types of strategy games.
However, this excerpt published as a preview made me change my mind about LoL being all bad:
Riot Games, maker of the popular League of Legends computer game, is emerging as a gaming company to watch thanks to its free-to-play business model that offers hope for the dim PC gaming industry. But the company should take a lesson from gaming giants of the past and be quick to diversify. Timeless money-making hits are rare to non-existent in the gaming world.
Unlike many video game companies that charge around $50 for their games, Riot offers League of Legends for free and charges users for in-game currency which can be spent on new characters.
And so, I continue to my main point.
League of Legends is the success companies like EA can only dream about, but will never realize because Riot still has a soul.
It’s true, though. My recent praise of Titanfall and anticipation of the in-development Mass Effect 4 (when it’s finished, I can’t wait just please don’t wait until 2016) aside, EA has completely lost its soul, but that doesn’t meant that business-minded folks are completely against its profiteering ways. They’re in it for the money. It’s never been about anything but the money since the middle of the 90s.
Riot, however, have one success to drive them forward on. And sure, another game is out there in the ether somewhere ready to take Riot into new genres or markets, but that time isn’t here yet. Until it is, they have a monster of a job trying to balance all the heroes in League of Legends while keeping the money coming in from both new and veteran players alike. Nothing about how Riot’s acted suggests that anything is slowing down for the one-game company.
EA on the other hand, is trying to make money hand over fist by killing a majority of their beloved IPs and poorly managing the ones that are still relevant. Somewhere, an EA executive sleeps at night, on their Californian king size bed stuffed with money, dreaming that one day, he’ll actually be able to fill his bed with hundred dollar bills instead of fifty dollar bills so that he can properly feel the ideal level of arrogance and smug even whilst asleep.
Riot isn’t resting on its laurels. They’re always developing new things to add to League or actually getting along with each other. They’re experimenting with new business relationships for esports’ sake.
All EA has going for it are two major releases we’re expecting will be good even though PC players will end up being tied to Origin, because no one at EA actually gives a shit about players. Riot actually has players who like their game and care about players, even though they do stupid shit like not have all the heroes accessible to everyone for free. But that’s another point of contention for another rant.