‘League of Legends’ maker Riot Games to ‘double down’ in China as gaming growth continues

SHANGHAI – Riot Games, the maker of the popular League of Legends game, will “double” in China, the company’s vice president told CNBC on Friday.

The US-headquartered game maker announced a new studio in Shanghai on Friday that will focus on developing new games for a global audience.

“In China we have a lot of passionate players for League of Legends and Riot Games,” Leo Lin, VP and China chief of Riot Games told CNBC.

“That’s why we want to double up in China and continue to invest here, not just in e-sports, but also, for example, in game development and other things like entertainment.”

The Shanghai studio will suspend “hundreds” of roles, according to a video message from Riot Games CEO Nicolo Laurent.

Riot Games is 100% owned by the Chinese gaming giant Tencent.

Experts have raised concerns about the impact of Chinese companies on companies they invest in or acquire, even if they are foreign companies.

Lin said Tencent’s role is that of a publisher.

“We are pleased about the current partnership and will continue to work closely together. But that doesn’t change the fact that Riot Games is independent and Tencent respects a lot of it … we are very confident that we will move forward together in China “serving our players,” said Lin.

Mobile e-sports league ahead

China is a very important market for Riot Games due to the popularity of PC games which, according to Niko Partners, account for more than 32% of gaming revenue and nearly 45% of gamers.

Riot Games’ flagship League of Legends is a PC game. And the company made the title a very popular esports or competitive gaming competition.

A screen shows the all-star match during the LPL “League of Legends Pro League” all-star weekend 2020 on January 2, 2021 in Chengdu, China.

Xu Xiaofan | Red Star News | Visual China Group | Getty Images

The League of Legends World Cup was held in China in 2020 and will be held again in the country in 2021. Newzoo estimates that the esports market will generate over $ 1 billion in global sales for the first time this year, with China expected to be more than $ 1 billion in sales as the largest region.

But mobile games are also very popular in China and make up the majority of the country’s total gaming revenue.

Riot Games has tried to build on this trend and last year launched a mobile game called “League of Legends: Wild Rift” in some regions using its well-known brand. It is not yet fully on the market in China.

This is a change for Riot Games that previously focused on PC gaming. But Lin said it was one of the “most important” areas.

“At Riot Games, we want to focus on mobile gaming … because our players now play a lot of them on mobile. And ‘Wild Rift’ is a big step we’re taking, and it’s a big bet. We are currently very confident that it will be a very good product for our players, “said Lin.

While Riot Games operates PC-based competitive gaming leagues, Lin said the company “will be opening a mobile esports league very soon … in China.”

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