The story of the birth of League of Legends; The greatest competitive game in history

League of Legends (League of Legends) before attracting millions of players, bringing in billions of dollars in profits and professional tournaments with 100 million visitors. It was more of an idea than a game. The game that existed until a year before the official release of League of Legends was not very good.

BingMag.com The story of the birth of League of Legends; The greatest competitive game in history

League of Legends (League of Legends) before attracting millions of players, bringing in billions of dollars in profits and professional tournaments with 100 million visitors. It was more of an idea than a game. The game that existed until a year before the official release of League of Legends was not very good.

From Jeff Jew, a producer at Riot Games who was an intern at the time, It is quoted: "For a long time, the game was awful. Nobody [at Riot Games] wanted to play it because it was so bad. But they made us play it.

Joe, along with a small group of interns and artists, worked on the game's many characters, often waiting for the rest of his team to take on what they were doing. They spent their time playing other games. One of the managers of the group realized this and told them that they should play League of Legends every day. They also did this; First with hatred. But six months before the game was released to the public, something unexpected happened: Playtesters and interns were playing League not by force, but by choice. Our game is reaching the same places. We were also very close to the launch of the game."

The launch of the game on October 27, 2009 was just a memorable moment in Riot Games' 10-year journey (note: the article was published to coincide with the game's 10th anniversary in 2019) on the road. which was full of nightmares and blind decisions and was made possible thanks to the hard work of an army of interns and a lot of luck.

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Everything you need to know before playing League of Legends BingMag.com The story of the birth of League of Legends; The greatest competitive game in history

Part of the 8-hectare plot of land located in Los Angeles where Riot Games headquarters is located

Point Beginning

As Riot Games co-founder Marc Merrill has stated, the birth of League of Legends revolved more around a philosophical vision than a design document.

Merrill and Brandon Beck, the other founder of the company, were friends in college and studied business at the University of Southern California. They became friends over their shared interest in video games. After graduation, the two rented an apartment in West Hollywood and became roommates. At that time, each of them had separate jobs: Beck was a consultant to the manager at Bain & Company, and Merrill worked in the field of business management. we used to Some nights we used to hold a round of games in our apartment. It was something we wanted to do whenever possible."

Both of them liked the idea of working on a game, but neither of them saw a realistic way to enter the game industry, given their educational backgrounds.

Merrill said: "We weren't engineers or designers, so we didn't find a job in the game industry that would appeal to both of us. People with our skills were more efficient in the field of game publishing. It was one of the reasons we didn't go into gaming after graduation.

But video games remained a big part of their lives, and over time, both Merrill and Beck worked with several game companies. One such job was advising the board of a now-defunct online multiplayer game. The two were hopeful about the company's vision for the online game and helped them raise funds for their project through venture capital. He taught them about the early days of starting a game company.

Merrill is quoted as saying: "We learned that even if you show up with a great idea at the right time and in the right place and take it to the stage It doesn't matter if you don't implement it. What ended up happening was that the company we were working for was making a great game, but it was floundering because of the lack of responsive technology."

In 2005, the company's new CEO (now named had changed), contacted Beck and Merrill again and asked them to help them in the process of buying and revitalizing the company. We went and helped him think about it. This issue made us think deeply about where the game industry is? What are its trends? In what direction is the industry going?"

These two people were recently involved in playing the popular Warcraft 3 mod, Dota (DOTA=Defense of the Ancients). Both fundamentally changed the rules of the RTS style, and the mode It created a new game in which two teams of five players face each other, each member of which is in control of a powerful champion, and their goal is to destroy the headquarters of the opposing team. But this mod was just a download file that fans of the game had made and kept updated. So it wasn't very polished, and it was often difficult to find and play.

Merrill said: "We thought maybe we could make a Dota style game. The more we thought about it, the more we were convinced that this was a great opportunity.

In their minds, mod Warcraft 3 not only paved the way for the birth of a new genre (which would later be called moba). MOBA=Multiplayer Online Battle Arena), but also showed the potential of a new idea in the game world: Game as a service. The service game is not simply produced, published and then forgotten. A game like this is constantly growing, expanding, and releasing new content without ever getting a sequel. A game made with this approach is more like a series than a movie.

Merrill is quoted as saying: "Duta proved that the idea of a service game can work, because this game, thanks to the long-term efforts of its creators, His followers and a group of volunteers who did not spend a single dollar on advertising became popular. The reason for the game's popularity was the direct connection with the players and the willingness to evolve and grow over time."

After the seed of the idea was planted in their minds, Beck and Merrill got to work.

BingMag.com The story of the birth of League of Legends; The greatest competitive game in history

Mark Merrill, co-founder and current director of Riot Games

Intern #2

When Jeff Joe first met Beck and Merrill, he was studying film at the University of Southern California's Interactive Media Lab.

When the tournamentwhich was mostly a free play gatheringwas over, Paul Bellezza, another fan of ProPure. The original duo introduced Joe to Beck and Merrill.

"They said to keep it a secret, but we're working on a game similar to Dota," Joe said. I thought this was a great idea. I was playing two games for 40 hours a week, and they said: "Next week, if you have time, come to the office and we'll arrange an interview to see if you're interested in joining us."

In September 2006 Riot Games He set up his office in an old lathe shop under an Interstate 405 overpass in Santa Monica. Joe said his interview eventually turned into a long chat about Warcraft, Dota, and his gaming habits. As soon as the conversation was over, the two offered Joe an internship at $11 an hour.

He accepted and became Riot Games' second intern: Blaza was the first. Joe changed his university schedule so that all his classes were held in the morning. He spent 40 hours a week at Riot Games.

He said the studio consisted of a few offices and a long row of cubicles. In the back of the office, far away from the light of the single lamp that lit the office, sat the interns.

"There was nothing on the walls and it was very dark, especially in the back," Joe said. . "When I started, there were basically no games." The game in question was as bare as the desert office itself. All Riot Games had to offer was an empty field on a white screen with little skeletons running around. "That was the whole game," Joe said. So we literally had to start from scratch."

Although Joe and Belza were the only interns at Riot Games, the company had a core team of four in addition to Beck and Merrill. They included producers, an engineer and a special effects artist. Another week, the first concept artist was recruited to the team. Also, during the following months, several trainees entered and left the team. After two months, Riot Games hired the first important piece: Steve "Guinsoo" Feak, one of the main designers of DOTA Allstars.

Feak led the development of the mod to He had left others and was studying at a university in Wisconsin. At the time he joined Riot Games, he was working in the Geek Squad division of a local Best Buy store. Blizzard Shadow and Penetration was making a MOBA game, so excited.

While Fick's hiring was a big deal for Riot Games, he had no experience working as a team within a game company. He had done all of his previous work independently.

Joe said, Learning to work with others was a new experience for everyone. It was really crazy.

The team members got involved in the development of the game, which was originally called Onslaught. They wrote a lengthy design document and focused on creating completely new charactersthe original two used Blizzard intellectual propertywhile demoing the game in four months to show at the 2007 GDC in San Francisco.

Although the company showed the game at GDC and Beck and Merrill also met with possible publishers, but their meeting did not lead to a favorable result. The biggest problem was that these two didn't want to sell the game itself; Rather, they wanted to make a profit by selling in-game items. Although the freemium business model - that is, free games with in-app payments - was gaining popularity in Asia, it had not yet been successfully tried in North America.

Merrill is quoted as saying: We just wanted to be a game company, but when we talked to the publishers at the time, they said, wait, you mean your game isn't going to have single-player gameplay, and you want your game to be free and downloadable only? What are you really talking about? When we heard this, we decided that we couldn't give them the keys to the kingdom and let them release the game, because then we would be doomed. This game, this experience, this idea required that the creation and release of the game were an intertwined and harmonious experience. So we had to go to venture capital, but we knew it was very unlikely to get that kind of capital, and we were scared.

After the GDC event, Beck and Merrill went about raising venture capital. They managed to raise 1.5 million dollars thanks to family members and angel investors (Angel Investor=an investment that provides start-up company capital without interfering with management affairs).

As these two are busy were traveling across the country, there was a gap in the main team at Riot Games. Joe is quoted as saying that most of the original members were focused on making a "Duta clone" and that "the quality standard was very low", while the rest of the small team wanted to innovate within the existing genre and take an idea that already existed. They were improving.

"Eventually these two different approaches clashed," Joe said. In early 2008, three of the four original members left the company. A month later, the fourth member also left. The rest of the team still had the game design document and a bunch of characters, but in many ways, those who remained had to start all over again.

Ancelot to League of Legends: Strife. League of Legends: Clash of Fates has become.

BingMag.com The story of the birth of League of Legends; The greatest competitive game in history

Statue of game characters on display in Riot Games main building

Game launch

In the summer of 2008, the efforts of Merrill and Beck They worked to get funding for the game, and the duo received $7 million from venture capital firms Benchmark and FirstMark. League of Legends was officially announced on October 7, 2008 and entered closed beta in April 2009. Merrill described the months between announcing the game and making it available to the public even in beta as terrifying. Joe also said that there were a number of "very scary" moments.

As the game neared Early Access, Joe was tasked with overseeing the creation of the game's heroes - who the player controls. was - took over. Initially, the goal was to release the game with 20 heroes, but after conducting a competitive analysis, Beck and Merrill realized that this number was not enough, so they doubled the required number.

Sales Skins, or new clothes for characters, have now become the game's main source of revenue, one that brings Riot Games billions of dollars in profits every year. But at that time, Joe and his team members were forced to create 40 characters and design additional skins for half of them before the release of the game. It was not done. This conversation was amazing and very scary. We had no idea How do you do that, and he replied, ``You'll find a way.''

So Joe hired an army of paid interns to complete the character design work.

"We had 12 designers," Joe said. This number is very high, and according to my estimation, at least half of them were interns. Each designer was working on two heroes at the same time, and each of them had 2 months to work on their hero and enter the game as a prototype. We also outsourced a lot of design work. This was the only way to do it."

Meanwhile, the company was under increasing pressure to release Early Access and the full version on time, because the company was running out of money, and if this happened, it had to be announced. It was going bankrupt.

To make matters worse, the rest of the original team were working with seasoned developers S2 Games and Frostburn Studios to create their own MOBA. League of Legends was a new take on the Dota formula, while Heroes of Newreth was a more faithful remake of the game. The initial build of both games was supposed to be released within a few months of each other.

Merrill said: "We were very scared. We hadn't published any games before and we hadn't made any games, while S2 was an experienced game company. They had released many games. They had better organizational skills and a more experienced game development team with better tools and technology.

BingMag.com The story of the birth of League of Legends; The greatest competitive game in history

The Prototype of Kayle

After both games were released to the public, things didn't look good for League of Legends.

Joe said: "We felt like we were going to lose this match the whole time and we were right by the numbers. They had better playmakers. At that time, their artistic design was much better than ours. Their special effects were beautiful.

The initial build of both games was released in close time, but the highest number of active players of Heroes of Newearth was twice that of League. "We thought we were definitely going to lose to this company," Joe said.

But after both games announced their economic models, everything changed.

League of Legends It was free and it was supposed to make a profit by relying on the sale of in-game items. On the other hand, Heroes of Neverland was a game that was sold in the traditional way, i.e. on disk, and had a fixed price. Joe said the game lost half of its players after the creators of Heroes of Neverland announced the price of the game. According to Joe's theory, the reason was that many of these players were in East or Southeast Asia and either couldn't afford to buy the game, or didn't want to spend so much money all at once.

Joe "All those players left the game and migrated to League of Legends because the experience was completely free," he said. We did not expect this at all. It was really crazy."

But there was nothing left to prevent Manbi's decision to release the game for free. Joe said that Beck and Merrill were very worried about this economic model and had doubts about its implementation. We were calculating to see how many skins we would need to sell to recoup the cost of making the game, because at the time we thought we were going to end up with 20,000 players. But finally Brandon said: No, you know what? We do the same. I think the free-to-play business model will work.

In 2009, Riot Games made $1.29 million in profits, according to SuperData estimates. In the following year, this profit reached 17.25 million dollars. In 2011, this profit increased to more than 85 million dollars. That same year, the Chinese giant Tencent bought 97 percent of the company for $400 million. There were people who fixed it. "If we priced the league, nobody would try it because it's a hard game to sell," he said. When you start the game, you might not like it at first. That means you have to play 10 or 20 hands to even understand why this game might look cool.

While this decision was important in the early history of League of Legends, it was just one of many moments. It was that a wrong idea or approach could doom the company.

For example, after the launch of the game on October 27, 2009, Riot Games had difficulty in launching the game's online store, and without this store this The company couldn't make a single penny.

Merrill is quoted as saying: "Spending other people's money when you have zero profit and only a certain amount of money is very stressful.", but these bumps that They happened from time to time, they were not exclusive to this company. Merrill said there were at least two times in Riot Games' history when they only had money for less than two months. From He quoted: "There are many stories that can be told about why the company should fail." A big obstacle hit in Europe. Riot had started a partnership with a European company to manage the game in Europe, but the players were unhappy with the state of the game there. According to Merrill, this was because their partner was not as concerned with quality as they were and did not provide the level of support that Europe needed. The result was that European players often had trouble getting into the game and struggled with online technical issues that sometimes lasted all weekend. So Riot Games convinced them to take back control of the game in Europe. However, this decision set a very heavy deadline for them: they had 53 days to not only take control of things, but also to open their own data centers. They succeeded, but only with difficulty. Three months after the 2010 financial report, gaming growth in Europewhich had lagged far behind North American gaming growthwas 9 percent stronger and growing.

Another big hurdle Riot faced Games not only came out of it alive, but even prospered because of it, the company's continuous effort to enter the field of E-Sport.

Today League of Legends is one of the biggest e-sports in the world, but in In 2011, Riot Games was just trying out the idea of professional league matches. The company held its first season of the Game Championship in June 2011 at the annual DreamHack event in Sweden. The match drew more than 1.6 million viewers.

The following year, the company decided to hold Season 2 of the league's World Playoffs in Southern California. Everything was going well until on the third day of the live playoffs, a series of internet issues disrupted a game not once, but several times. The problems of the two rival teams forced them to repeat the same match for seven hours. Eventually, Riot Games canceled the games for the day and invited everyone to come back the next day to start the tournament again.

According to Merrill, the moment "became a tragedy, It became an alarm for the company to improve its situation and find a way to solve these problems."

The final result of the company's transformation was; A decision was made to build a system within the company itself to host high-level tournaments thereafter.

Over the years, as the league's popularity grew exponentially, problems emerged, some of which They had the potential to ruin the game.

Since 2012, Riot has identified toxic and abusive players as a serious problem and even created the Team Player Behavior group, run by scientists, to try to It was slow to solve this problem, but it remained a problem.

Merrill said: "The biggest reason people quit League of Legends was the promiscuous behavior of others online. It wasn't our fault, but it was a problem we had to deal with. I think the approach of many companies was to throw up their hands in surrender and say there was nothing they could do. We tried to take this approach: How can we cultivate a better community of players?

In 2016, the company decided to focus more on rewarding well-behaved players and less on punishing them.

Although Merrill said the process is still ongoing, in his opinion, a lot of progress has been made.

But in 2018, the website Kotaku (Kotaku) published a scathing report about the company's culture, citing multiple sources of reports of sexism at Riot Games. The story which described the unfair treatment of female employees at Riot Games led to an internal investigation, lawsuits, a state investigation into fair treatment of employees, collective resignations, and ultimately an effort by the company to improve employee treatment and culture. Ruler of the company led. The company also hired a chief racial and gender diversity officer.

For some people outside the company, the story came as a shock. Because in the past Fortune had introduced Riot Games as one of the top 15 employers in America. Merrill said this was an important moment for the company to come together and rethink the company's values.

Merrill was quoted as saying: "We've invested heavily in training and we're continuing to invest more." Continuing on issues of racial/gender diversity. "It's important to us that people of different racial/gender backgrounds and identities can work together and improve human communication and things like that."

Merrill added that she hopes In the coming years, this company will be able to look back and look at this event as a very positive turning point that helped them achieve the ideal of the company and employer. which they had to become and wanted to become, because they wanted Riot Games to be a great place to work, otherwise they wouldn't be able to achieve what they wanted.

BingMag.com The story of the birth of League of Legends; The greatest competitive game in history

A group of spectators watching the group stage of the League of Legends World Championship in Berlin

Vision for the Future

League of Legends has grown, improved and changed in the ten years since its launch. Riot Games had a problem with 20 heroes at launch, but now the game has more than 140 heroes. In 2009, twenty thousand players seemed an unimaginable record, but in 2019, the game has 8 million daily active players. The company established its first office in a small lathe workshop, but now it is located on an 8-hectare plot of land. Any small mistake in the early days could lead to a financial crisis and the closure of the company, but according to the information included in SuperData, Riot Games earned nearly 1.7 billion dollars from its free-to-play game last year.

One of the reasons for the company's success (or in Merrill's opinion, maybe the main reason) is the company's focus on listening to players; Whether loyal supporters of the game, or harsh critics. But this player-centered approach only works if the company is aware that sometimes players make mistakes. That's what Riot Games has done.

For Merrill, this is one of the "contradictions and tension points" of working at Riot Games.

Merrill said: It took a player-centered approach and cared about what the customer wanted, and then said, "Well, sometimes the customer is wrong"? In my opinion, players are great at identifying the problem, but not very good at coming up with a solution.

For example, this month we saw a great example of how Riot Games sometimes listens to player concerns, but somehow Unexpectedly aims to fix them.

Perhaps the most die-hard League of Legends fans would love for Riot Games to focus entirely on one game and making it better, but the company has released news about new games that have been released over the past few years. He has been working on them and all of them are located in the world of League of Legends. Earlier this month, in a ceremony held at Riot Games' main building, the company announced several new projects to mark the 10th anniversary of League of Legends.

Riot Games' decision to announce these games at the 10th anniversary ceremony of the League indicates This is because the company believes that the main strength of the company depends on the league, but the new titles will in turn give the league strength.

BingMag.com The story of the birth of League of Legends; The greatest competitive game in history

League of Legends screenshot

Credit from Ryan Rigney, Riot Games Director of Communications for League of Legends "Initially, we wanted to have a separate ceremony to introduce new games, and we had been talking about it for some time. I was working on this 10-year campaign where we wanted to do a bunch of cool stuff for League of Legends players. But then we decided to ask the whole company to announce all the news related to our games and series in this event. This ceremony took on a crazy and extravagant aspect. For the first time in the company's history, we were able to bring everyone togetherincluding the game's development and research departmentsto contribute to a major campaign." It was the making of the game of all time. This means opening the doors to fans and giving them a chance to see all the projects the studio has been working on. Another goal was to make people more familiar with the focused, day-to-day activities of the thousands of developers who work at Riot Games. In short, while this game is only 20% of the company. I think players are starting to realize this. When we announce the construction of new projects, we have actually been building many of them for years. Therefore, the structure of the company is arranged in such a way that it can support the development of several games simultaneously and for a long time. The problem is that none of these points were clear. So it was very satisfying to give the players a better understanding of how our company works, because we wanted to talk to the players about what we wanted to do and show them what our goals and priorities are."

Jessica Nam ( Jessica Nam, executive producer of League of Legends on PC, said that these new games will provide new ways for League of Legends fans to interact with their favorite characters. He is quoted as saying: "We hope that if you fall in love with a character in one game, you will be motivated to try another game and deepen your love for that character."

Team Members Jessica Nehm has spent the entire month monitoring the reactions to news of the league's changes

According to Joe, who is now the project manager of Legends of Runeterra, one of the new games announced This month, these new titles are a good starting point to introduce new players to the world of League of Legends and introduce them to the game.

BingMag.com The story of the birth of League of Legends; The greatest competitive game in history

An image from "Legends of Ronterra", Riot Games' card game set in a shared universe with League of Legends

But maybe they're more inclined to try a strategy card game or another new title.

He continued: "After you get to know the characters and world-building of the game, you might be more motivated to go to the league and try it for the first time. So I think these new games will be a good starting point for players who have been interested in the atmosphere and world-building of League, but never had the chance to get into it.

Joe said Riot Games' goal is that League May Legends live another decade or two. Merrill said that he hopes that in the next 10 years, the realm of League of Legends will go beyond the game world and become a kind of lifestyle.

He said: "About 75 percent of our players don't say, ``I want League of Legends.'' I play Ave Legends"; "I'm a League of Legends player," they say. The difference between these two sentences is like the difference between "I like surfing" and "I am a surfer". Being a league player is a kind of identity that is closely linked to a certain lifestyle and mentality, to memes and a community of people who are deeply immersed in the game and its world.

Source: Washington Post

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