Riot Games Celebrates ‘League of Legends’ 10th Anniversary With Three New Titles

October 16, 2019, 2:00 AM UTC

Ten years after they’re released, most video games’ shelf lives have long since expired. But it’s going to take more than time to kill League of Legends, which is celebrating the 10th anniversary of its launch by letting its fans know that the multiplayer online battle arena game is just getting started.

But despite its broader impacts developing a massive e-sports competition scene and becoming a leader in the online game market, League of Legends is still just one game. So parent company Riot Games announced Tuesday it’s adding three new video games to the League of Legends universe as the original title celebrates a decade of gamers taking down Nexus after Nexus.

“It’s really the turning of the page for the organization,” Riot Games co-founder Marc Merrill tells Fortune. “We’re evolving from being the League of Legends company to being Riot Games and developing, operating, and publishing a variety of different games.”

Over the last ten years, League of Legends has become a tent pole for Riot, both as its flagship product and its entrance into the lucrative world of international e-sports. Netting billions in revenue for years, League of Legends made Riot one of the most influential publishers in the entire gaming industry within just a few years of its founding in 2006. It brought in an estimated $1.4 billion in revenue last year and over $2 billion in 2017, according to consumer data company Statistica.

Two years after the game’s release in 2009, Riot also began to wade into e-sports. With more than 10 million active League of Legends players at that time, Riot, then a U.S.-based publisher, was able to hold its own among dominant competitors in China and South Korea.

Of course, Riot also struck a critical deal that catapulted the game and company to new highs. Tencent, a massive Chinese tech conglomerate, purchased a 93% stake in Riot in 2011 before buying the rest in 2015. Tencent has been moving further into the gaming industry in China and the U.S., investing in Activision-Blizzard, Ubisoft, and other U.S. gaming companies.

Tencent’s involvement with Riot has kept the company going strong (and expanding) through today. Tuesday’s announcement of three new League of Legends titles includes online card game Runeterra and two other yet-to-be-named releases (one a tactical shooter and the other a fighting game). On top of the expanded game universe, there will be a League of Legends animated series called Arcane coming in 2020. However, Riot hasn’t finalized details, including where it will air and with how many episodes.

The addition of the new games and series is a substantial shift in the business model for Riot Games, which has been almost singularly focused on delivering just the one League of Legends title—and its related experiences—but delivering it well and providing consistent updates.

That dedication to one singular product has yielded dozens of e-sports teams across the world, with the 2018 League of Legends World Championship Finals reaching nearly 100 million unique viewers—a testament to how far the game has come.

League of Legends was not Pokemon Go—we didn’t show up and instantaneously become a smash hit,” Merrill says. “We had a business model that was very unproven, and we had a lot of skeptics from the industry and the media.”

Now, with the forthcoming League of Legends titles, skeptics have more fuel Riot’s success. But there’s one thing they can’t argue: The past ten years have been a snowball.

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