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Riot communications lead talks about how to announce risky or controversial games

Riot Games has announced a lot of new titles recently, rapidly expanding beyond its core game, League of Legends. Some of the titles announced could be considered risky but there was no Artifact or Diablo Immortal level backlash to speak of. It turns out that a lot of thought went into avoiding that reaction and Riot's communications lead has spilled the beans on some of the tactics used.

Yesterday, Ryan Rigney, League of Legends' Communications Lead, posted a Twitter thread going over five ways to announce a risky/controversial game successfully. The first of these announced games was Teamfight Tactics, which was inspired by Dota Auto Chess. Instead of pretending that Dota Auto Chess didn't exist, Riot specifically listed it as the game that inspired developers to create something similar. Players ended up appreciating that Riot didn't try to dance around accusations of copying and instead addressed the elephant in the room.

Riot has also announced two mobile games in 2019, which would be considered risky after the reception to Blizzard's Diablo Immortal. With the announcement of Wild Rift and Teamfight Tactics mobile, Riot leaned into the ‘don't you guys have phones' meme but also made a point of showing off how much work went into the game. Wild Rift in particular was announced with a montage of really nice animations introducing each character, so it was clear that the developers put time and effort into crafting the game.

Finally, Runeterra was the last ‘risky' game announcement from Riot last year. It is a card game but instead of announcing it just on its own, Riot bundled a teaser of it in with a montage of three other game announcements. Each game shown in the montage may not appeal to all Riot fans but there is a high chance that at least one of those games will appeal to a good percentage.

With that in mind, rather than having a large audience of excited fans sighing at the idea of a card game, the conversation shifted towards ‘look at all the cool stuff Riot is doing'. Of course, pulling something like that off does take a lot of coordination and planning internally. It seems unlikely that a studio like Valve could have announced Dota Underlords, Half-Life: Alyx and Artifact at the same time. However, a publisher like Blizzard could pull something like this off, particularly when you have the benefit of a yearly convention that announcements are planned around.

The full Twitter thread is worth reading, particularly if you are interested in how some studios plan new game announcements and how to show off new content for the first time.

KitGuru Says: I think the key trick here is to announce mobile games alongside something that the core audience can be excited about. If Diablo Immortal was announced alongside Diablo 4, the conversation would have been very different. Riot has shown this strategy in action already, announcing a shooter, a card game, a fighting game, an autobattler and a mobile game all in quick succession without causing any mass controversy. 

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