Wild Rift will improve drastically in the upcoming year. An interview with riot executive Leo Faria, global head of Wild Rift Esports, brought forth the immense opportunity for 2022. One of his biggest visions for the game has been to create the first truly global mobile esport. This goal has not been accomplished in 2021. A lot of what has been occurring this year has been laying down the groundwork for the game’s progress.
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Esports as a Lifeline
The horizon cup is the biggest, first attempt to accomplish the grand vision of a global esport, and will therefore set the expectations for the future tournaments to come. Think of the tournament as confirmation of the existence and potential success of Wild Rift as a competitive game, creating opportunities for esports organizations around the world to look towards investing their own resources into Wild Rift.
Not everyone cares about Wild Rift esports. There are many casual players who just enjoy the game, or other players who enjoy experiencing the fierce competitive nature of the game themselves rather than watching those at the top of the top. It is okay not to care about it, but to help inform those who do not follow the esport of the importance of the competitive scene for a video game.
Take VainGlory as an example. The game was excellent, very much pioneering the Mobile MOBA sphere for every game to come after it. In regards to overall gameplay, VainGlory continued to impress its players, developing and growing very well. But when it came to esports, though there was a scene, the people in charge of allocating resources properly pretty much dun goofed. They apparently wasted millions on venues and hotels for the esport, with little profit returns from their investments. As a result, VainGlory esports was discontinued. Rogue Games was then forced to attempt and milk money out of their player base by reinventing their skin system. But long story short, this did not work out, and eventually resulted in Vainglory’s death.
Now, could the same issue occur for Wild Rift? Are Riot developers using too much money on their esport? Is it possible for the market to suddenly explode due to no returns? Honestly, this is a possibility with any investment, but it is unlikely to happen. Keep in mind, this is Riot Games, and their overall strategy for Wild Rift is a long term investment rather than to blow the game up overnight. Wild Rift may not be the most popular mobile MOBA, but they have entered the market, and they are here to stay.
Learning from League PC
When asking Riot Executive Leo Faria regarding the developmental stage of Wild Rift esports, he stated that Wild Rift is attempting to model its esports after League PC’s. Now, what did League of Legends esports look like during the first initial year? Though it is now the biggest esport in existence, during the first initial year Riot games was criticized on many occasions.
People did not think that video games could possibly become an official “sport,” and that the community was simply wishfully thinking. But over time, the game continued to grow. The audience became so big, the venues became more outstanding, and esports as a whole could no longer be brushed off by those who looked down on the community. In essence, Riot is not expecting Wild Rift to become immensely popular over night. Instead, they are looking to create a stable ecosystem that is fully sustainable on its own. This would be where VainGlory failed, and Wild Rift is working arduously to distinguish itself in.
Wild Rift Marketing
Though being an accessible and easy to play MOBA was initially part of their marketing strategy, Wild Rift players all know this not to be true. Yeah, it is easier than League PC, but Wild Rift is by no means a simple game. There is a steep learning curve, requiring knowledge of minion wave management, itemization strategies, match ups, the list goes on and on. When comparing Wild Rift to the recently popular games like Pokemon Unite, there is far more skill expression. But on the other hand, this also means that less people are likely to engage with the game at the beginning as well.
During season 1 and most of season 2 of League of Legends, the game definitely was not that popular. People were definitely getting into the game, but so many players were overwhelmed by the sheer amount of information present. The magic of MOBAs comes from the ever lasting growth. There is always something to learn, something that brings players back wanting more. People got together to talk theories, to discuss the strongest and smartest ways of play. And the amount of commitment that the existing player base invested into the game made others interested. Those observing the massively addicted players often thought to themselves, “what’s all hype about? Why is everyone obsessed with this game? Is it really that fun?”
Eventually, more and more people joined the game, and got addicted to the learning process and the social connections that formed. League of Legends definitely is not the most casual game, although there definitely are casual players. Players are stuck potentially up to 50 minutes on Summoner’s Rift, left to fend for themselves in an ever evolving environment. In the beginning, and even now, people argued that the games took way too long. But look at how much the game has succeeded despite the criticism.
Wild Rift’s Long Term Plan
Riot’s Wild Rift team is attempting the same. As of now, during technically the preseason, open beta stages of the game, it is inevitable that Wild Rift faces similar criticisms.
Wild Rift is not doing nearly as well as most people thought it would.
Considering it is the mobile port of one of the MOST popular games in existence, many thought the game would launch and gain more traction than it did. So what is Riot’s plan to address this issue?
The Wild Rift’s team prioritizes their players and audience, whether the community acknowledge it or not. Rather than focusing on their competitors in the market, and modeling their entire game and business model off of ripping of another successful franchise, Riot strongly believes in leading by example. For Wild rift, they are slowly, but surely, looking inwards towards their existing community and addressing their needs.
Think about it, when Wild Rift released, the community asked for bans, a spectator function, more tournaments, more items, more runes. Developers provided all of these, albeit at a bit of a slow pace. Of course, the game definitely needs more improving. Match making remains an issue, and India becomes restless.
But do not lose trust in Wild Rift, simply practice patience.
Why Wild Rift Chooses Not to Become Popular Overnight
In an alternate timeline, perhaps Wild Rift developers sacrificed complexity for simplicity. Maybe they took out a basic ability. Each champion has two basic abilities and an ultimate rather than three. The game would become drastically more simple. They could even completely remove the item system, and make the MOBA solely based on leveling.
If Wild Rift were more simple, it would be far more accessible to a bigger player base. But during the interview with Riot executive Leo Faria, he stated “that their focus isn’t around making the game simple. The simpler a game is, the less interesting it is to watch.”
As previously mentioned, Wild Rift is very much treating their esport as one of their primary methods of supporting the game’s growth. With this in mind, if the esport is not fun to watch, then it will not succeed. The depth and details of Wild Rift is what will make it stand out from other mobile MOBAs. It will be what secures the game’s future in the upcoming years. Wild Rift prioritizes the audience and the players. Simplifying the gameplay would take away from their goal of creating the first truly global mobile esport.
It will definitely gonna take some time for Wild Rift to become the behemoth that the community wants it to be. This past year has been technically a part of Wild Rift’s preseason, an extension of the open beta. The standards and foundational ground work Riot laid down are sure to show fruition next year.
To be honest, there is no guarantee that even 2022 will be Wild Rift’s apex. But eventually, Wild Rift will grow and develop, and become the behemoth that the community expects it to be.
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