Riot Games, Inc is a video game developer that is based in the United States of America. The company was founded in the year of 2006 which seeks to improve and create new games. The name of Riot Game may sound unfamiliar to many however the game developed by this company has become one of the most popular games in the world today. The flagship game for the company is League of Legends which is a multiplayer interactive battle game online. This game was released in 2009 and has become the top game in the world by active players in the year of 2013. This research piece seeks to evaluate the development of the company through historical development. The business model to be analyzed by providing the key internal and external stakeholder which influence the business. Riot Games is worth the analysis because it allows transformative impact to be made on the gaming industry as a whole, the interactive battle ground created in the games therefore allows for virtual reality to be made.
Development of Company
The University of Southern California teamed up with Brandon Beck and Marc Merrill in September 2006 to establish a game brand, which was later known as Riot Games. They collected US$1.5 million from their family and angel investors to pursue funds for the establishment of the company and to seek financial support. The first office of Riot Games is located under the Interstate overpass near Santa Monica, California. Following half a year of beta testing, the League of Legends, a free game that met the world on October 27th 2009. On the 10th of May 2010, Riot Games declared the right to distribute and conduct the game in Europe. Next year, Tencent in China acquired 93% of Riot Games for US$400 million. Tencent also acquired the remaining 7% share on 16 December, 2015. In addition, the Riot Games office also moved to a new building in western Los Angeles in 2015. In March 2016, Riot Games obtained the developer’s Radiant Entertainment development rights. Brandon Beck and Marc Merrill declared that they would focus on developing games and committed themselves to create updated video games and plentiful e-sports player experiences in 2017. Riot Games continued to expand. The total number of employees worldwide was 2500 as of May 2018. Riot Games in October 2019 revealed some innovative games. One was League of Legends, called the League of Legends: Wilderness Rift, for multi-terminal mobile devices and game consoles. Then there was the League of legends’ independent mobile version called Teamfight Tactics; a digital card game, called Runeterra Legends, would also occur in 2020, and all three games would be launched.
The development of the company started off from the idea of the roommate Brandon Beck and Marc Merrill and went into reality through family and angel investments. This form of investment allows for the initial establishment of the company which turns an idea into reality. Besides the partnership at the initial stage of the company development, the company also works on the business development model of acquisition. The company was acquired by Tencent in 2011. The acquisition of Tencent allows Riot Games to open up the market of China with the support of Tencent. This also shows the transfer in the ownership of the company as the Tencent becomes the parents company for Riot Games. The 100% shares officially went over to Tencent in the year of 2015 which shows the full transfer of ownership over to Tencent (Aitel & Schneider, 2020). Acquisition for Tencent allows the expansion of the company to world operation and also allows for Riot Games to make expansion with adequate financial and infrastructure support from the tech giant of China. The flagship game for Riot Games is League of Legend which is a computer based multiplayer game. However, the announcement of League of Legends: Wild Rift shows the shift in company and its ability to meet the current trend of the world. The mobile users have been on the rise in recent years and that the invention of a mobile based multiplayer game is one way to suit the current culture and society landscape.
Riot Games, Inc. has developed various games which are showcased above. It has various forms of games for different gaming users and also for different age groups. This allowed the target group to be wide reach and profit of the company to be maximized.
The business model of Riot Games works on development of games for users so that they can play and develop addiction to it. This then allows revenue generation for gamers of these games who will spend money to buy equipment for their virtual characters on the battlefield. The main source of revenue income comes from gamer’s purchase in games. With the rise in influence and popularity of the virtual battlefield and characters, gaming tournaments also become income for the company. This allowed for revenue generation. Despite being one of the most popular game developers in the world today, Riot Games faces strong competition from other gaming companies. creativity and constant innovation is needed in order to ensure the constant development and success of the company. Innovation and following up with the trend is one key aspect for companies that are based on technologies. Improvement is needed to ensure that business will not be eliminated by the industry as the gaming industry has a high level of competition.
Criticism on “Bro Culture”
One major criticism is the “Bro Culture” within the company which showcased discrimination against female. This is the translation of the idea of gaming is for male. As tournaments and competition have been a major source of income, the company will hire gamers to play the game. These hardcore gamers are mainly teenage boys which results in a toxic “Bro” culture within the company where 80% of the company worker are male (McElgunn, 2018). Despite having company value of inclusion and diversity, the company is continuing being discriminatory towards females in both hiring and pay.
This form of “Bro” culture is also translated into the study of masculinities. Gaming has become daily interaction between gamers which lead to the production and functioning of hegemonic masculinity. Hegemonic masculinity is therefore the legitimization of the dominant position of man within the society (Christensen, 2014) This form of toxic culture within the society is being made widespread through virtual reality multiplayer games. This is seen as a form of culture and society impact and influence of Riot Games for the culture within the games and showcased in the company pushed for hegemonic masculinity within the society. This also seeks to influence through subtle cues.
With the increasing number of video gamers worldwide, multiplayer interactive games have created a new phenomenon in the world today (Billieux, Deleuze, Griffiths & Kuss, 2015). One of which is the transformative impact on virtual reality. Virtual reality is the form of technology to create a simulated environment which allows the users to be fully engaged in this experience. This is being created through the game of Riot Games, Inc. which is League of Legends.
League of Legend as the flagship of Riot Games, Inc. is a multiplayer video game which allows players to take up a role and work in a team in an online battleground (Thiel & Jannika, 2019). In this game, players structure a group of five and accept the function of a hero, characters with one of a kind capacities. There is also a class assigned to the heroes of the game. A group of gamers therefore choose their characters and then fight against another group of players. The goal of the game is to attack the other party’s base which destroys the Nexus which is the core of the base of the players. Whoever attacked and destroyed the other group’s base will win.
In this game, the users therefore take on the role of a hero within the game and control every movement of them. This comes from the theory of an online avatar which gives the user a virtual form of experience (Yang, Gibson, Lueke, HUesmann & Bushman, 2014). The virtual world is therefore created which represents the users in all forms of action and interaction. This game created the virtual world for the games through the construction of an avartar. The gamer builds the avartar and can choose the skills and equipment of the heroes. Also the reality of the avartar and virtual world is created through the movements fully controlled by the player and that the charcter can choose what to do and speak. Virtual reality created through appearance and behavior (Yee & Bailenson, 2009). The Proteus impact is regularly clarified by means of self-perception hypothesis, wherein an individual in part gathers inner states, e.g., states of mind, by scrutinizing themselves and their behavior as an exterior eyewitness would (Yee & Bailenson, 2007). This is the form of transformative change that League of Legend (product of Riot Games, Inc.) has on the society of today.
Riot Games, Inc. is one of the most well known gaming developer in the world today. It has developed the most popular games which is the League of Legends. Building on a successful business model, the company becomes a subsidiary to Tencent which is one of China’s largest tech giant. With the support of infrastructure and financial backing of Tencent, Riot Games made extensive development and penetrated the market of China. This allowed for the outreach of the game. One of the main criticism of the company is the toxic bro-culture evident in the gamers and workers of the company where discrimination against gender is being seen. This also give rise to the argument where Riot Games allows the development and production of hegemonic masculinity. The transformative impact of Riot Games is through the creation of the virtual world for the gamers which completely changed the internet scene.
Aitel, D. & Schneider, J. (2020). If You Play Videogames, China May Be Spying on You. Retrieved from: https://www.wsj.com/articles/if-you-play-videogames-china-may-be-spying-on- you-11603926979
BBC News. (2019). League of Legends firm to pay £8m to settle gender discrimination case. Retrieved from https://www.bbc.com/news/newsbeat-50641183
Billieux J., Deleuze J., Griffiths M. D., Kuss D. J. (2015). Internet gaming addiction: The case of massively multiplayer online role-playing games. In el-Guebaly N., Carrà G., Galanter M. (Eds.), Textbook of addiction treatment: International perspectives. 1515–1525. Milan: Springer
Christensen, AD, Jensen, SQ (2014) Combining hegemonic masculinity and intersectionality. International Journal for Masculinity Studies, 9(1): 60–75.
Lolesport. (2020). Worlds 2020 Primer. Retrieved from: https://lolesports.com/article/worlds-2020-primer/blt065c89b2c6d7b75d
Maloney, M., Roberts, S. & Caruso, A. (2017). Mmm … I love it, bro!’: Performances of masculinity in YouTube gaming. New media and Society.
McElgunn, T. (2018). Gaming company’s ‘bro culture’ sparks gender discrimination lawsuit. Retrieved from:
Messner, S. (2020). Every game company that Tencent has invested in. Retrieved from: https://www.pcgamer.com/every-game-company-that-tencent-has-invested-in/
Newzoo. (2020). Three Billion Players by 2023: Engagement and Revenues Continue to Thrive Across the Global Games Market. Retrieved from: https://newzoo.com/insights/articles/games-market-engagement-revenues-trends-2020-2023-gaming-report/
Yang, G. S., Gibson, B., Lueke, A. K., Huesmann, L. R., & Bushman, B. J. (2014). Effects of avatar race in violent video games on racial attitudes and aggression. Social Psychological and Personality Science, 5(6), 698–704. doi:10.1177/1948550614528008
Yee, N., & Bailenson, J. (2007). The proteus effect: The effect of transformed self-representation on behavior. Human Communication Research, 33(3), 271–290. doi:10.1111/hcre.2007.33.issue-3
Yee, N., & Bailenson, J. N. (2009). The difference between being and seeing: The relative contribution of self-perception and priming to behavioral changes via digital self-representation. Media Psychology, 12(2), 195–209. doi:10.1080/15213260902849943
Thiel, A. & John, J. (2019). Is eSport a ‘real’ sport? Reflections on the spread of virtual competitions. European Journal for Sport and Society. 15 (4): 311-315.