The developers of League of Legends have apologised for a new trailer so bad that it convinced some community members that the game was dying.
In a message on Twitter last night, Riot Games addressed the backlash to this year's new season cinematic. Each year, as LoL's competitive mode gets its annual restart, Riot traditionally releases a trailer putting its characters front and centre. My personal favourite is 2019's 'Awaken':
This year, the video is The Brink of Infinity. By contrast to the battle scenes that have dominated the new year cinematics in recent years, this year's effort is a realistic flythrough of League of Legends' map, Summoner's Rift, with a voiceover from a child understood to be the in-game character Pantheon.
In contrast to previous years, the video is pretty unimpressive, with players on Reddit describing it as an Unreal Engine demo rather than a creative outpouring from one of the biggest games in the world. But beyond those individual complaints, some have highlighted broader concerns.
League of Legends had a fairly lacklustre year in 2022. Its traditional roster expansion fell from six champions to five, with only one major overhaul of an existing character. The preseason - often a period of significant change - was muted, with one of its biggest 'new' features the return of a neutral monster that had to be cut from the game last year. After Arcane in 2021, we've had no follow-up, and many players have noted that the flow of in-game lore and storytelling has dried up significantly.
This is all set against the backdrop of comments by Nicolo Laurent, CEO of developer Riot Games, announcing that the company's 2023 budget is the biggest it's ever been. That might be good news for just League of Legends fans, but for the sheer breadth of content the company is currently working on. Not long ago, Riot only produced League of Legends, but it now makes several other ongoing games; Valorant, Wild Rift, Legends of Runeterra, and Teamfight Tactics all have dedicated teams behind them. It's also making an MMO and a fighting game, developing a second series of Arcane, publishing indie games through Riot Forge, and likely has plenty more happening behind the scenes - all while attempting to overhaul several of its domestic and international esports scenes.
That hive of activity paired with what appears to be a dearth of content for its 'bread and butter' title had the community in what almost amounted to all-out panic. On Reddit, some joked about ways that Riot could fill the apparent hole in its budget, while others asked whether it was time to worry that the game was nearing its sunsetting period. Necrit, a YouTuber so well-known for his breakdown of the game's lore that he was actually immortalised within the LoL universe, published a video in response to Brink of Infinity titled "League is ACTUALLY Dying."
the whole league scene is up in flames, even necrit has lost faith the silence from riot is defeaningpray to god they say something soonJanuary 10, 2023
Riot has taken note, publishing a thread that was nearly unprecedented in its transparency. While the company is relatively vocal regarding upcoming features, I don't remember seeing such direct communication about a community uproar. The developer told fans that "unprecedented circumstances" led to an "alternate approach" for the Season 2023 video and acknowledged that Brink of Infinity "has led to further speculation about our investment in League."
Honestly, we should have been more communicative, which might have helped with some of that feeling and speculation. We do believe that League has a bright future and we are investing in that, but we can do a better job of sharing those plans with you.January 10, 2023
The thread goes on to say "we should have been more communicative, which might have helped with some of that feeling and speculation. We do believe that League has a bright future and we are investing in that." More details on that investment are said to be coming "in the next couple of days."
It'll be interesting to see how Riot attempts to change the narrative. In reality, League of Legends itself seems to me to be in pretty good shape, especially for a game approaching its 14th birthday in 2023. Less new content isn't great news, but the impact of the pandemic on production schedules is still being felt, with the huge number of AAA games coming out this year indicative of the logjam we've seen elsewhere in the industry over the past few years. League of Legends isn't dying, but it's clear Riot has some work to do to convince fans that it's still kicking.