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Analyzing Riot Games’ move to mobile

Analyzing Riot Games’ move to mobile

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As Sensor Tower says, “Just over 16 months after Riot Games first forayed into mobile titles, the publisher released three games and generated $ 108.4 million from player spending.” Frankly, this is a very laudable achievement for a company that has mainly focused on a PC game since 2009. While Riot will need time to increase its contribution to mobile revenue to League’s $ 1.75 billion. of Legends 2020 on PC, it’s off to a good start.

That said, achieving competitive success on mobile is a very different ball game and the numbers below would make Riot feel like Riot is feeling the heat: League of Legends: Wild Rift follows quite well against Mobile Legends: Bang Bang, but it does. it is miles from Supercell’s Brawl Stars and Tencent’s Arena of Valor. Legends of Runterra’s revenue is quite insignificant compared to the competition, and MTG Arena is showing comparable performance in just five months. Teamflight Tactics is a subgenre leader and likely driven by the IP attached to it, but the Auto Chess subgenre earning opportunities are generally insignificant compared to other target subgenres.

While there are nuances to justify the scale of these numbers – such as audience demographics, platform showing impacts, user acquisition volumes, and more. – Wild Rift and Runeterra show strong performance metrics per user. These are comparable to those of the top performers of the respective subgenres. In other words, it looks like both games have to find discovery and distribution maximization to really tap into the revenue volume.

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But does Riot really care about subgenre dominance? Not so much, I would say. Through a recent interview with Co-Founder and Co-Chairman Marc Merrill, the company’s steadfast “long-term” focus is clear. Merrill goes on to say, “The reason League of Legends is great isn’t because we’re good at acquiring players. It’s huge because we’re good at not losing people. Putting this together with the first of Riot’s five core values ​​- “Player Experience First” – tells me that Riot’s mobile ambitions are not and likely never will be about subgenre dominance. It’s probably more about bringing their gaming experiences and intellectual property to a mobile-centric audience, redirecting some of them to their dominant platform, lengthening relationships with their PC audiences across the board. platforms and finding new ways to engage their audiences across the ecosystem. If leadership in the mobile market is achieved as a by-product of creating mind-blowing gaming experiences that their mobile gamers have been investing in for decades, then that’s great added value. It’s just that that’s probably not the main reason Riot makes games for any platform.

Another consideration for all mobile games is Apple’s recent IDFA policies. After all, we’ve just seen Zynga’s latest earnings report highlight a short-term impact of higher user acquisition costs, which have slowed the growth of bookings. We can assume that a similar impact is rippling across the industry. This will affect Riot, especially Wild Rift, but it has less to worry about compared to other publishers. Why? On the one hand, Riot’s games benefit from strong existing intellectual property (and therefore strong word of mouth publicity); in other words, paid UA is not the only way to acquire a large number of players. With Riot’s growing gaming ecosystem, there is a lot of room for ‘cross-selling’: when Riot acquires a player for a game, it often gains additional benefits when that player decides to play another Riot game. bound.

All in all, with the cash cow and League of Legends intellectual property in the background, Riot has the flexibility to think long term about its mobile gaming plans, to invest in highly refined gaming experiences, to place distribution in second position and to go against the grain in terms of implementing F2P design / monetization best practices. And in today’s mobile market, I personally find their games a breath of fresh air. Neither of these efforts are pure passion projects, and Riot knows there is a significant business opportunity on mobile. We will likely see them seize this opportunity patiently over time and in their own way.

Abhimanyu Kumar is the co-founder of Naavik, a research, consultancy and consultancy company for the gaming industry..


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