Riot Games is sort of a misnomer. After all, the studio only has the one game with its megapopular and lucrative multiplayer online battle arena League of Legends. That Riot Game, singular, has paid the bills (and generated hundreds of millions of dollars per year) and enabled the developer to grow to 2,500 people. But after years of success, the company has begun teasing something new.
“In our view the ‘S’ in Riot Games is aspirational,” Riot cofounder Marc Merrill said in an interview with Variety. “The reality at Riot is that we are exploring lots of different games. We have a whole bunch of R&D teams exploring different opportunities that we think would resonate with players.”
Exactly what those ideas are remains a secret at the studio. I’ve reached out to Riot to ask for more details, and I’ll update this story if the company provides any more info. In the near-decade since League of Legends launched in 2009, Riot has put its efforts into growing that MOBA. But the possibility of a followup game has long percolated under the surface at Riot.
Brandon Beck, who helped Merrill create Riot and League of Legends, revealed in 2017 that the pair were going to get back into active game development. In 2016, Riot acquired startup developer Radiant, which was testing an accessible fighting game and cutting-edge network connectivity technology.
And then there was the “MMO tweet” last week.
Should we build a MMO? Yay or nay? https://t.co/doZs8zkLNX
— Tryndamere (@MarcMerrill) July 25, 2018
Variety asked Merrill flat out if Riot is making a new massively multiplayer online role-playing game, and Merrill did not have a straight answer.
“I’m not going to answer that directly,” he explained. “The question that is really interesting and relevant is: ‘What does the future of MMOs look like?’ I think we have a view, others have a view, [and] players have a view. World of Warcraft continues to be a dominating game. There is a really good argument that going head-to-head with World of Warcraft may not be the best move, but who knows. We’re exploring a lot of stuff; thinking about a lot of stuff.”
Whether thinking and exploring turns into something tangible that Riot fans can actually boot up and play is still a mystery, but it’s one that feels like Merrill and the rest of his team may end up answering soon.