Riot Games says it'll accelerate during Covid-19 to bring joy through gaming

The Drum 29 Jun 2020 05:01
Riot’s business is about getting gamers to play and watch esports more, and that has not changed during the pandemic.

Riot Games says the difficulties faced by the Coronavirus pandemic has brought out the best in its business, as it commits to game launches and accelerates activity to bring "a little bit of fun" to people in tougher times.

Having publicly made a commitment in October 2019 to launch games this year, as part of its 10 year anniversary, Riot pushed ahead with launching Runeterra and Valorant in the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic. It was launching games as countries went into lockdown and brands stopped paused their marketing activities. Another game, the League of Legends: Wild Rift, is also on track to be released this year.

“At Riot, we phrase it as, 'Why did the pandemic decide to launch while we were going to launch games?'” jokes Chris Tran, the brand’s head of esports for South East Asia, Hong Kong and Taiwan, during The Drum's Can-Do Festival.

“Here we are midway through the year and we have been lucky enough to launch them despite a world that is not quite the world that any of us wants it to be nowadays. As a company that really strives to be player-focused, we saw our commitment made in October 2019 as a promise to our fans that we would launch new games.”

Has Riot’s marketing changed during Covid-19?

For example, racing giants Formula One and Nascar are taking their events virtual, featuring celebrity drivers, and broadcasting on Sky Sports and Fox.

According to Tran, Riot’s business is about getting gamers to play and watch esports more, and that has not changed during the pandemic. What has changed, however, he says, is the brand’s partners in the region have prioritise talking to the brand during this period about further opportunities.

For example, he points out that it was not that long ago that gaming was seen as a negative thing by the World Health Organization (WHO). Now, Riot is partnering with the WHO to help people who are staying at home.

“We have the opportunities to now be able to get better distribution with broadcast platforms, being able to bring more value through brand sponsorships and being able to work with the WHO. We have not changed, and honestly, the WHO has not changed, but the world has changed, and how people prioritize what is important has changed. We continue to be player-focused and try to recognise the way the world works to add value to our players' lives.”

How will esports grow post-pandemic?

That being said, he concedes it will depend on long the pandemic is going to last as the shorter the pandemic is, the more opportunity that traditional sports and our competitors in that space can recover.

“This was before the pandemic and between now and the end of the year, who knows what other amazing sponsorships and partners we will be able to talk to you about.”

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Coronavirus pandemicChris TranTranSouth East AsiaTaiwan
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