While this isn’t technically the full release of the game — that should happen later this year on PC and mobile — this will mark when anyone will be able to download and play Runeterra. Riot Games notes that once the open beta starts, accounts will not be reset. So whatever cards and decks you buy and create during the beta will stay with you when the full game comes out.
Digital card games became a big market after Blizzard Entertainment ‘s Hearthstone became a quick success in 2014. It inspired competitors to enter the market, including Gwent, The Elder Scrolls: Legends, and Magic: The Gathering Arena. Research firm SuperData expects the digital card game market to be worth $2 billion by 2020.
Legends of Runeterra is part of a larger initiative at Riot Games to expand the League of Legends universe into additional games. League of Legends has been a giant hit since its launch in 2009, but now the MOBA is inspiring this digital card game, along with an upcoming fighting game and first-person shooter.
With a built-in audience of League of Legends fans and the potential to attract curious Hearthstone and other digital card game players, Legends of Runeterra could be a hit. However, when Valve tried to turn its MOBA smash Dota 2 into a digital card game with Artifact, the result was a disaster. The player count got so low that Valve has stopped development on the game in favor of a redo. Artifact has averaged a meager player count of just 105 a day over the last month.