Riot prepares for its first big game after League of Legends

Riot Games is developing new titles. Yes, plural – the League of Legends dev has long joked about putting the ‘S’ back into ‘Riot Games’, and it seems those plans are going to pay dividends sooner rather than later. Riot co-founder Marc Merrill says the studio plans to release a handful of big new games every decade, and teasingly hopes that the studio will be known not just as the creators of League within the next five years, starting the second phase of the company’s history.

Merrill says that Riot is “looking at anything you would imagine a pretty hardcore gamer would say, ‘I wish Riot would make an X game.’ We’ve either looked at it or are actively working on it. Who knows if it will see the light of day. We are entirely designed by the audience we try to serve, we will do anything on any platform, any media, to hyper-serve that niche audience well, because more than a game, for us it is about audience focus.”

That includes things like the League of Legends MMO Merrill tweeted about last week – not that this particular game is in development, but that it’s the kind of game Riot is looking at. “World of Warcraft continues to be a dominating game,” Merrill tells Variety. “There is a really good argument that going head-to-head with WoW may not be the best move, but who knows. We’re exploring a lot of stuff, thinking about a lot of stuff.”

According to Merril, League’s success stems from the fact that it caters to a very specific niche. “Like with League of Legends we’re not going to try and please everyone or do things even oriented to a mass market. We think of League of Legends as a niche market that’s really focused.”

Instead, the focus is on listening to players, developing titles “to hyper-serve that niche audience well.” That goes across platforms, genres, and IPs, but the idea is that Riot’s habit of following player desires will be the central point that unifies the studio’s games.

Not all of those games will be based on the League universe, though some might. “We need to develop games that will resonate with a particular audience and focus on the gameplay first, then the IP needs to support that game.”

If you want the hottest potential rumours and speculation, take this: Riot absorbed Rising Thunder devs some time ago, bringing some of the biggest luminaries of the fighting game community on board, including the founders of Evo. Evo 2018 is this weekend, and now Riot’s teasing that it’s got a slate of new games in various stages of development. That’s no confirmation of an incoming announcement – in fact, it’s still a significant long-shot – but we’re keeping our ears to the ground, at the very least.

But if you’re looking for something more concrete, you need to stick with reading up on League of Legends patch 8.16. The game that put Riot on the map is the only certainty so far, and it isn’t going anywhere.