Riot has been an extremely busy billion-dollar bee these last couple of months. In addition to unveiling several new internal projects and settling the largest class-action gender discrimination lawsuit in California history, this week the League of Legends developer also announced a new publishing initiative for third-party games set in the League universe. Details are pretty scarce, but the primary rub is that companies other than Riot will develop the games, and Riot will publish them under its new Riot Forge label.
“Our mission is to bring awesome new League of Legends games to players by partnering with experienced and talented developers from around the world,” so says the new publisher’s official website. “By supporting and empowering passionate partners to tell their own stories and expand the League world, we’ll deliver a variety of bespoke games that enable players of all types to experience League in new and exciting ways.”
As for who those passionate partners may be, it’s too early to say. It’s also too early to say when Riot Forge might publish its first title, or what platform its eventual releases will be on. There are, however, a few important tidbits tucked away in the website’s seven-question FAQ.
First of all, Riot Forge will only publish games that are “completable,” so no live or on-going games like proper League. Secondly, Riot Forge will only publish titles developed by third parties, so Riot’s in-house League fighting game or dungeon crawler, for instance, wouldn’t launch under the Riot Forge banner.
Finally, developers that work on Riot Forge games can receive various levels of support from Riot, “from QA, localization, voice-overs, research, marketing, and more” according to the FAQ. This makes it sound like Riot Forge will be a much more hands-on enterprise than a simple licensing division, but the terms outlined in the FAQ are equivocal enough to make it sound like any magical reality could be possible through the wonders of Riot Forge.
The website even has a form for developers to submit their credentials to Riot for more information about the program, which seems to indicate that Riot is looking to work with developers of all prestige levels. Again though, the website doesn’t actually say that — it’s just cheerful and vague enough to imply it. If you’ve completed Game Maker Studio 2’s tutorials and that’s about it, maybe don’t expect for Riot to respond to your inquiry.
Even with as insubstantial as most of this announcement is, the idea of third-party League games is still worth getting excited about. What if Sega made a K/DA rhythm game using the Hatsune Miku: Project Diva engine? How about a League gacha developed by miHoYo or Netmarble? Would this allow Nintendo to put Ahri in Smash? What if Platinum did Bayonetta, but League? There’s some real potential here, both for fun explorations of these characters in a perspective other than two-thirds, and for Riot to make phat stacks off the liberal use of its globally ubiquitous IP.
Real talk though, I’ve finished most of the Game Maker Studio 2 tutorials. Get at me Riot.