This is a hellish month for Riot Games and a hellish month for Blizzard Entertainment. In less than three weeks, we saw Riot:
- The release of Arcane, a Netflix TV series, is not only suitable for adapting video games: it is really great, and it has received matching praise.
- Followed by two League of Legends spin-offs, the action role-playing game Ruined King and the cute mobile runner Hextech Mayhem.
- Show off two other new games to be launched next year.
- Bring all of its games to the Epic Games Store and celebrate Arcane with crossover games in “Among Us”, “Fortnite” and “Magic: The Gathering”.
Blizzard’s situation over the past few weeks has been the opposite.
- Blizzard was the first to postpone its biggest games “Overwatch 2” and “Diablo 4” to 2023.
- Blizzard announced on the same day that Jen Oneal, the co-director of the studio, would leave for only three months.
- Some of Oneal’s resignation emails were made public in the latest round of accusations against Activision Blizzard. She bluntly stated that “the company will never prioritize [its] People in the right way. “
- Blizzard’s flagship event BlizzCon was actually cancelled in 2022.
At this moment, the development trajectories of the two major game companies have formed an unprecedented sharp contrast: Riot is destroying it, and Blizzard, one of the pillars of PC gaming since the mid-1990s, seems to be falling apart.
A brief history of the two opponents
Blizzard and the fists are unusually intertwined. They are neighbors of Southern California, and they are only one hour apart when the traffic in Los Angeles is coordinated. Blizzard is known for polishing the game into a Nintendo-like light. As we know, StarCraft created e-sports, and World of Warcraft became an authoritative MMO, opening up a decade of imitators.
15 years after Riot was founded, its existence is attributed to the Warcraft III Antiquity Defense. The founder of Riot regards DotA as the perfect template for constantly updated free games, just like “World of Warcraft” League of Legends, its breakthrough success has inspired dozens of enthusiasts.
With the development of Riot, Blizzard ushered in some of the strongest periods, with the release of StarCraft 2, the popular World of Warcraft expansion pack, Diablo 3, Hearthstone, and then Overwatch. This huge success proved Blizzard can apply its well-known polish and accessibility to first-person shooters. At the same time, Riot seems to never release a second game.
This finally changed in 2019, and it has changed dramatically. In two and a half years, Riot released Teamfight Tactics, Legends of Runeterra and Valorant, each laser aimed at a popular corner of PC games:
- Teamfight Tactics has surpassed the short-lived success of DOTA Autochess
- FPS purity of brave tinker and counter-strike
- The Legend of Runeterra expands the legend of LoL while taking advantage of the popularity of free card games
Runeterra is also a blatant Hearthstone competitor. Although Riot likes to say that it is most interested in doing its own thing in each of these genres, it is still competing with Blizzard and Valve, which is the most well-known name in PC games and replaces things like Hearthstone A seismic transformation of popular games like Legend or CS:GO.
Now, with the launch of Arcane, Ruined King and more planned League of Legends derivatives, Riot is building an empire around its capital.The real surprise is how consistent OK Riot’s extended universe already exists. We like Runeterra, even if it is not very popular. Arcane has enriched the League of Legends, and we may have only just begun to feel the chain reaction of its success (its role has begun to become more popular in the game). The creativity and quality of the Riot expansion really highlights Blizzard’s stagnation over the past few years.
As early as 2016, we discovered that watching Blizzard’s vigorous attack on multimedia, the Warcraft movie, was a “fascinating and embarrassing” behavior. Riot has no deeper experience in animation. He spent several years building a team to produce a wonderful TV show.Blizzard fans are coveting its game animation year, As early as “StarCraft” and “Warcraft 3”. Why has Blizzard’s leadership never expanded this pedigree in a meaningful way?
Even with “Overwatch”, Blizzard still insists on the conservative approach of producing short promotional videos about the characters, which makes fans who want to see more of the universe frustrated. Of course, there are comics and novels of Warcraft and StarCraft, but this kind of in-depth editing knowledge material usually attracts a core of smaller die-hard fans, and shows like Arcane can bring in a large number of new fans.
Rise and fall
Five years after the release of Overwatch, it is clear that Blizzard has been struggling to balance the creation of new games with the need to maintain existing games. This is either due to the failure of its own leadership or the imminent imminent drive of Activision to promote uninterrupted profits. Influence. Since 2018, Blizzard’s reputation has collapsed for a variety of reasons: disappointment with its game, the departure of a long-time leader, the suspension of a Hearthstone player who advocated Hong Kong’s freedom, and the layoffs when the company’s profits were record-breaking. By this summer, when Activision Blizzard was sued for widespread sexual harassment and discrimination, Blizzard’s illusion as a benevolent hero of PC games was really shattered.
An important part of considering Blizzard’s failure is to understand that its creative struggles and its workplace struggles are not separate things: they are indivisible. Some people at Blizzard must have envisioned an epic TV show set in World of Warcraft, or suggested working with smaller developers to explore the untapped corners of the Overwatch universe. Obviously, the developers who worked tirelessly on the World of Warcraft expansion and Hearthstone balance wanted their games to be the best.
Under ideal circumstances, these things are not easy to happen. Imagine how hard they struggled publicly or internally to change the behavior of a large company that cares about stock prices above all else.
When Activision Blizzard’s executives were blatantly hypocritical enough to pay for Jen Oneal to be lower than the male co-leader Mike Ybarra (Mike Ybarra), they publicly stated that the new leader would ensure that Blizzard “is for women and any gender or race. The safest and most welcoming workplace for people with a sexual orientation is “time direction or background.” Obviously, these problems are deeply ingrained. If the company does not treat employees correctly first, then things like Diablo 4 and Overwatch 2 Blizzard games will not really flourish in the future.
Although Activision Blizzard employees are protesting and petitioning CEO Bobby Kotic’s resignation, Fist is celebrating Arcane Annual charity bake sale.
If Riot’s upcoming fighting games and MMOs become popular, it is easy to call Riot the “new Blizzard”, but this ignores another important point of understanding: Blizzard has never been the Blizzard we see from the outside. Some employees never even saw Blizzard from the inside. They did not notice the sexual harassment and discrimination affecting their colleagues. Even in the golden age of StarCraft and World of Warcraft, there were employees who were struggling with these issues in private, and we are only now discovering them.
Riot experienced its own wave of sexual harassment and discrimination allegations in 2018 and is still processing litigation, including claims against its CEO.So far, its reaction as a company seem More proactive and transparent than Activision, including the release of an annual diversity and inclusion report, it is impossible to know how Riot has successfully eliminated harassment and discrimination in more than 20 offices and more than 3,000 employees. Reports from this year Indicates that there is still a lot of work to be done.
However, in terms of creativity, Riot has never become bigger or better. In League of Legends and its derivatives, Riot clearly has more than 180 million monthly active players-more than Steam in all of its games. Arcane may mark the beginning of a new era for Riot. In this era, it has the guts to invest a lot of resources in various ideas that help make League far beyond the MOBA with a lot of backstory (and a very popular K- pop combination). Perhaps Riot will even turn LoL into an MMO, which seems to be the first game that can be legally called a “WoW Killer” and actually delivered.
Riot may not be the new Blizzard, but today it seems to be a company that can achieve its goals. We are just beginning to see its prospects.