The Information publication told how the relationship between Tencent Corporation and the creators of the popular MOBA League of Legends from the California studio Riot Games, which the Chinese gaming giant has owned since 2011, has been changing in recent years. According to the interlocutors of the publication, Tencent is gradually shifting the focus of development from League of Legends to other projects and studios.

As reported, while working on the material, The Information journalists interviewed more than 40 people, among whom were employees of Tencent and Riot Games, as well as persons “close to both companies.”

What happened

According to former Riot Games employees, the cooling of relations between Tencent and LoL authors began in 2015. The studio owners offered to release a mobile version of League of Legends, but the developers rejected this idea. After that, Tencent created a mobile MOBA Honor of Kings on its own, the first version of which was noticeably reminiscent of League of Legends.

Riot Games were dissatisfied with the borrowings of their Chinese colleagues. “They openly exploited our intellectual property,” The Information quotes the words of a former studio employee.

Riot representatives discussed the problem with the parent company, after which Tencent removed obvious borrowings from the game and published Honor of Kings as a separate project that has nothing to do with League of Legends. The game enjoyed great success and became the most popular mobile title of 2017 in China with a monthly audience of 200 million people.

In 2017-2018, Tencent became seriously interested in “royal battles” and bought shares in Bluehole and Epic Games, which own the flagship titles of this genre: Fortnite and PUBG. This increased the tension between the Chinese corporation and Riot Games, since at about the same time there was evidence of a decrease in the gaming audience of League of Legends. According to the UnrankedSmurfs resource, in 2017, the project’s MAU decreased by 20% compared to the previous year and amounted to 80 million people.

Nevertheless, League of Legends remains one of the largest gaming projects in the world. For two years, the game has been consistently leading in the ranking of the most popular titles in the world by Newzoo and ranks first among the most viewed games on the Twitch streaming platform.

Riot Games Position

The creators of League of Legends deny information about strained relations with Tencent. The official representative of Riot Games told the Dot Esports resource that the friendly and business ties between the organizations are stronger than ever, and in the future they intend to strengthen cooperation even more. As for the League of Legends indicators, the studio is very happy with them.

“The peak attendance of the game is behind us, but it is still one of the most popular titles in the world. I think after updates with new content, the activity of gamers in LoL will grow again. We are extremely pleased with the results of the project, they are kept at a high level,” said the Riot speaker.

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