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Riot Games : Arcane’s marketing masterpiece

It’s almost April 2024, which means season 2 of Riot Games’ Arcane series is just over 6 months away! The first Arcane installment was released in 2021 and was a huge success. Thanks to this success, League of Legends and therefore Riot have won over new audiences. Here’s a look back at a marketing campaign that reflects Riot’s famous competitiveness.

Arcane of Riot Games on Netflix
©Arcane on Netflix

A leader in the video game industry

Even if you’re not a video game fan, as long as you’ve had wi-fi even once, the name League of Legends shouldn’t be unfamiliar to you. However, you may not be familiar with the game itself, so here’s a quick reminder. League of Legends is a very complex game, but to sum it up, it’s a multiplayer PC game that pits two teams against each other in 5 versus 5 on a map. The aim is to destroy the opponent’s base before it destroys yours.

Its creator, Riot Games was founded in 2006 to create games and experiences that make it better to be a player. In 2009, they launched their debut title, League of Legends, which has gone on to be one of the most-played PC games in the world. In the years since, they are released VALORANT, Teamfight Tactics, Legends of Runeterra, and League of Legends: Wild Rift. Riot’s games within the League of Legends universe have garnered over 600 million players globally in the past decade. To give you an idea, Riot games will generate 1.5 billion in revenues in 2022 ! The company states that its main objective is “to be the most player-centric gaming company in the world”.

League of Legends, the game map
©League of Legends, the game map

An Esport pioneer

Riot Games, and League of Legends in particular, is so popular not only because of its players, but also because of its international scene.

Furthermore, the company’s impact goes beyond just game development, it manages global esports leagues, notably the esteemed League of Legends Championship Series. These competitions have elevated gaming to the status of a professional sport, attracting significant investments from well-known team owners and staging high-profile events.

You might think that the sport whose popularity is skyrocketing is soccer, basketball or football, but it’s esport. Indeed, Statista, a data analysis company, reports that around 270 million spectators watched video game competitions last year, with projections of 323 million by 2025. The esports scene, part of a $287 billion gaming industry, is itself valued at $3 billion and forecasts an annual growth rate of 8.31%.

League of Legends Worlds Championship from Riot Games
©League of Legends Worlds Championship

A free-to-play business model with substantial revenues

The brand has taken a risky gamble by making its free game available for download and only offering revenues from subsidiaries.

The brand boldly ventured into the free-to-play model, earning through add-ons. Transitioning to microtransactions League of Legends rakes in $31 per second, summing up to $2.64 million daily. Crucially, unlike many that shift to “pay-to-win games”, League preserves game integrity, offering solely cosmetic purchases..

Business Model Canvas from Riot Games, by businessmodelanalyst
©Business Model Canvas from Riot Games, by businessmodelanalyst

A captivating universe with strong characters

With more than 160 playable characters known as champions, each with their own story, League of Legend offers strong characters. The universe is vast and has its own map of the world. What’s more, each region has its own story and its own associated characters. In this way, players can better identify with the characters they are playing and become attached to them.

Riot Games, a company that listens to its players

For gamers, this sentence may make you smile, because you have the impression that you’re not being listened to when it comes to balancing the game. However, Riot Games is trying to please the majority and is making every effort to listen to players’ opinions, as the release of Arcane proves. Indeed, many players, seeing the quality of the game’s cinematics, have been calling for a League of Legends series to be released for several years.

Riot Games
©Riot Games

Arcane, the marketing masterpiece by Riot Games

Here we are at last, Arcane’s appearance in 2019. In 9 episodes and 3 weeks, the programme has become one of the most watched in the world, ahead of Games of Thrones. Arcane has also become the most watched series on Netflix, rivalling the Korean phenomenon “Squid Game”. And that’s just the beginning!

Produced by Riot Games in collaboration with Fortiche Production, Arcane is a masterpiece. The story and the animation not only appealed to players, but also to those unfamiliar with the game’s universe. So, this has raised awareness of the licence and encouraged people to play the game.

Arcane tells the story of Vi and Jinx, two rival sisters from “League of Legends”. In a tale of betrayal and growth, it depicts their divergent evolution in Piltover, the city of light, and Zaun, the city of shadow. The series tackles serious subjects such as poverty, politics and the consequences of human ambition.

VI and Jinx of Arcane from Riot Games
©VI and Jinx of Arcane

A high-quality sound universe

Beyond the visual aspect, Arcane’s sound universe is an unqualified success. The series’ theme song is Imagine Dragons’ Enemy. As for the voice actors, big stars such as Hailee Steinfield and Ella Purnell have been called in. Enemy is a piece of music you have probably already heard, and it was number one on the platforms when Arcane was released. Once again, it’s an Arcane-related success story, and one that’s helping to get the word out about Riot and its game.

Arcane links League of Legends to elements outside the game that everyone knows. That is Riot’s marketing success !

Enemy video clip by Imagine Dragons
©Enemy video clip by Imagine Dragons

Riot : Marketing leverage through partnerships

Thanks to its success, the series has opened up some very interesting avenues for the connection between the different worlds of entertainment and for innovative marketing approaches.
In addition to the hype surrounding the show, characters from the series are also making appearances in other video games. Jinx, for example, is appearing in Fortnite, where a complete outfit has been added to the game’s item shop.

In addition, many new players appeared on League of Legends after the series was released.

©Riot X Fortnite

Riot Games on the road to new marketing success with Arcane season 2?

Riot Games’ expansion is remarkable, dominating not only the video game industry but also venturing successfully into animation. The brand is perpetually at the forefront of innovation, collaborating with leading figures across various sectors. So Riot Games is much more than just a video game company.

While season 1 of Arcane has drastically increased the reputation of League of Legends and is a true artistic and marketing masterpiece, one question remains to be answered. Will Arcane season 2 be the same?

Last few words : maybe we’ll see you soon?

In this article, I hope to have aroused the curiosity of those who are not yet familiar with the game or the series. I also hope I’ve taught a little more to those who already know them.

If you would like to play alongside me or watch me play, feel free to add me as Xylthard#3725 or come along on twitch : https://twitch.tv/xylthard

Thanks for reading !

Sources

Riot Games, Riot Games Expands Publishing Business Into Asia Pacific

Netflix, Arcanes (league of legends)

Riot Games, Who we are

Wired, (2023 October 2). “Arcane” is a work of art

Zippia, Riot Games Revenues

Jason McIntosh, Why is League of Legends so Popular in the Esports Scene?, Circuit

Brian Crecente, (2019 October 27). League of Legends is now 10 years old. This is the story of its birth, Washington Post

David Regal, (2014 October 10). Behind League of Legends, E-Sports’s Main Attraction, The New York Times

Team TBH, (2023 September 24). Riot Games: Epic Success Story And Key Success Factors, The Brand Hopper

Daniel Pereira, (2023 April 14). Riot Games Business Model, The Business Model Analyst

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jordathomas

34 Responses

  1. Interesting article about Riot’s strategy on how they run their marketing techniques and business decisions. A little disagreement on how they listen to their fanbase, I agree to some extent they listen to the fans for global decisions or projects concerning their different games and music/media, I just have a slight complaint about they ignore sometimes their high tier, highly skilled players on the direction of the game goes.
    Great article, cheers.

    1. Thank you very much for your very thorough comment! Indeed, it’s true that in trying to please the majority, they sometimes forget their best players about the direction the game is taking and especially about balancing champions!

  2. Thank you Thomas for this really interesting and comprehensive article on Riot Games. I’m a League of Legends and Valorant player and I found it interesting to learn about all the aspects surrounding the developers.

    1. Thanks a lot! It’s true that it’s always good to learn more about the aspects surrounding the developers when you really enjoy the game!

  3. A very well written and informative article. I only knew this Game by name but it was very interesting to read.

  4. Thank you for this well written article and interesting content about the marketing strategy and techniques they use!

    1. Thank you for your generous feedback! It’s always rewarding to hear that my work is making a difference!

  5. Etant un joueur de longue durée (9ans), j’ai trouvé l’analyse sur Riot apporté plus qu’intéressant. L’auteur apporte tous les détails nécessaires à la bonne compréhension du jeu tout en ayant une analyse plus approfondie et peu usuelle.
    Il est rare de voir une réflexion si approfondie sur un jeu si connu et qui apporte du nouveau.

    1. Merci beaucoup pour ton commentaire Dirk ! Je suis vraiment content que tu aies apprécié mon article !

  6. Awesome work you did here Thomas. Captivating from beginning to end even as someone non-familiar with the gaming / e-sport industry. I guess I know what I’ll be watching tonight !

  7. very interesting, great explanation of riot games’ impact on the video game industry!

  8. Very interesting article.
    I discovered a universe that I didn’t know. Thank you very much

  9. Thank you for your article! I enjoyed it and learned a lot from it. I personally watched the Arcane series and found it to be a masterpiece too – it definitely sparked my interest in the game.

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