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Hot property: Riot earned a whopping $1.75bn from flagship title League of Legends in 2020


which it launched in June 2020. “[Valorant] is drawing a lot of


interest fromgamers,” says Mr Rietkerk, who adds Riot had an “aggressive and impressive” launch strategy through streaming plat- forms such as Twitch. Part of its Valorant push was to


enter the Middle East and north Africa (MENA) region, which posted the largest annual growth in both game revenues (14.5%) and players (8.8%) in 2020, according to Newzoo data. InOctober 2020, Riot stampeded


into theMENAregion by openinga newdata centre inBahrainandoffice inDubai,aimed to establisha stronger Valorantcommunity presence. Anna Donlon, the executive pro-


ducer of Valorant, said in a Twitter post to the gaming community that the company hadmade this push “to get players onto Riot direct” and give a “more competitive, direct connec- tion to the Valorant servers”.


Tencent’spush Since 2011, Riot has been part of Tencent—the Chinese tech giant best knownfor its ‘super app’ WeChat that offers wide ranging ser- vices, such as payments, social media and ride-hailing—after it was acquired for $400m. Since then, Riot has been an inte-


gral part of Tencent’s broad gaming interests, which include South Korea’s Bluehole, the developer of free-to-play battle royale gamePUBG, and a 40% stake in Epic Games, the US-based company behind the hugely


popular battle royale gameFortnite. “We can tell that the gaming


industry is still at its early stage. There’s so much room for enhance- ment, creation as well as explora- tion,” Sammy Xia, the vice president of Tencent Games said at the compa- ny’s four-day Game Developers Conference held in December 2020.


Streaming As coronavirus lockdownspushedcon- sumers to seekalternative forms of entertainment, revenues generated by digital gamesandinteractivemedia grewto $139.9bnin2020,upby 12% froma year earlier, according to SuperData. Crucial to esports’ develop- ment within thishas beenhowfans can interact directly withplayers by watchingmatches over streaming platforms aroundtheworld, with YouTubeandTwitchmakingup40% of revenues generated in 2020, accord- ing toSuperData. Indeed, atWorlds in Shanghai back inOctober,anaverage ofmore than1.1mpeople tunedin duringthe event. “We are leveraging streaming


platforms and technology to really enable our fans to express them- selves and be a part of our sport,” John Needham, the global head of LOL esports, said ahead ofWorlds 2020. “That’s probably the biggest reasonwhy the future of our sport is our young audience.” With gaming and esports’s popu-


larity unlikely to wane anytime soon, Riot is positioned to continue playing a prominent role in this new frontier of entertainment.■


February/March 2021 www.fDiIntelligence.com 13


RIOT GAMES Founded 2006


Headquarters Los Angeles


ParentCompany Tencent Holdings


Global footprintand


headcount Over 3000 employees across more than 20 offices


COMPANYPROFILE


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