Today, a report from The Initiative, which drew on interviews with over 40 employees from League of Legends developer Riot Games, claimed that relations with parent company Tencent had become increasingly strained in the years following its acquisition. Following the article’s publication, however, Riot Games issued a statement insisting that friction between two wasn’t an issue, calling the partnership “the best it’s ever been.”
As noted by Dot Esports, The Initiative interviewed Riot employees who spoke of general dissatisfaction with Tencent’s interests in mobile gaming and its attempts to persuade the developer to pursue a mobile version of League of Legends.
Mobile gaming is big business in the East, where it is quickly displacing PC and console gaming as the number one platform for players. So big, in fact, that Tencent wasn’t prepared to let the opportunity slip by despite Riot Games’ refusal to create a League of Legends port. It instead went on to produce its own, titled Honor of Kings.
According to one employee at Riot, the studio couldn’t believe the similarities between the two games after reviewing early screenshots, feeling that their intellectual property had been ripped off. Honor of Kings was later altered after Riot communicated their frustration, but Riot wasn’t pleased about King of Honor’s subsequent success as the most popular mobile title of that year.
Further aggravating relations between the two, Tencent has since moved its focus toward PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds and Fortnite after the two battle royale titles exploded onto the multiplayer scene. Their popularity has caused a drop in League of Legend active players, and profits have tumbled, leading to layoffs at Riot Games.
Riot Games has since issued the following statement to Dot Esports:
“League numbers are down from their peak, but it’s still one of the most-played games in the world and we’re very happy with the numbers, and we think some of the new content we’re putting out soon can only help with player numbers,” Riot said. “Basically, League is doing incredibly well by any measure except its own very high watermark.
The relationship with Tencent is the best it’s ever been. We talked to Rioters about it a fair amount back in February and while the Arena of Valor situation wasn’t great, we worked through it and leadership’s take that it made the partnership stronger. We’re working together toward an exciting future, both for League and our upcoming games.”