Riot Games has done an excellent job in keeping itself relevant throughout the years and it’s thanks to the marketing strategies that they’ve adapted. The biggest selling point and common denominator in all these strategies that Riot Games seems to be using to attract interest amongst the player base is that they all try to expand the Runeterra Universe. How has this simple factor helped the company in ensuring that all their future projects will have a massive influx of players?
Explaining The Runeterra Universe
The Runeterra Universe originally wasn’t the primary focus of why League of Legends was created. At first, the lore wasn’t huge so it only explained the backstories of characters to add some color into the champion that you were using rather than making them important pieces of an expanding world. You’ll notice that some of the old League of Legends champions’ lore were so terribly written and felt like they were out of place with how the universe is set up to be today.
As the game grew and became more popular, the players started caring more about their favorite characters and noticed that these champions had some kind of connection, albeit vague. Riot Games decided to make the lore make more sense and started releasing champions that didn’t only explain their own backstories but acted as a piece to give life to the world of Runeterra. Older characters’ stories were also completely changed or rewritten to make sure that everything made sense.
By League of Legends’ 5th year, the universe was already established and the champions that Riot Games were releasing had become crucial pieces in expanding the lore. The goal of releasing a champion is for them to add to the story and make sure that their existence makes sense. This is why the designs of champions became thematic instead of just releasing a champion that just simply looks cool. Everyone had to belong to a specific part of Runeterra or at least, in the realms that affect it.
Today, the Runeterra Universe isn’t only limited to League of Legends. In fact, the lore is expanding even more outside of the game. It is widely considered that Legends of Runeterra, Riot Games’ card game, is a much more reliable source of lore updates than League of Legends. The company has also been releasing media pieces such as comics, cinematics, and recently – the Arcane series that uses a part of the universe to tell the stories of already established characters in the game.
Why Has the Runeterra Universe Become Such a Selling Point?
The answer to that is simple – people care about it. Whether we like it or not, a lot of players have found it too stressful or boring to play League of Legends for a prolonged period of time. However, their time playing the game has given them some sort of connection to the champions that they play. Most players only really return to play League of Legends if their favorite champions receive an update such as a new skin or rework or if their friends invite them for a few games.
Realizing that the lore has a bigger impact on the popularity of League of Legends rather than the gameplay itself, Riot Games decided to expand this universe by creating more platforms to bring it to life. The first successful application of this project would be on Ruined King: A League of Legends Story by Riot Forge. The game created a setting in the world of Runeterra that allowed players to explore a portion of the universe and interact with the different elements surrounding it.
However, even before the release of Ruined King, the player base has already been interested in the story. Cinematics were extremely popular and would draw in players to play the game during special events and champions releases. Fans absolutely loved it when their favorite characters would appear in a short cinematic and see some fight scenes with realistic graphics. Making these cinematics short allowed the fans to create discussions online which would attract even more people.
Riot Games also received some help from YouTubers like Necrit, who has been releasing videos with the primary purpose of expanding on lore. Creating discussions for people who like to read about the stories of Runeterra and introducing the universe to people that either have no time or patience to read huge walls of texts. These people have been essential to giving the players a means to connect to the universe and explore their fascination with the world.
How Riot Games is Expanding the Universe
As we’ve already mentioned, Riot Games is expanding the universe by releasing new games, cinematics, and other pieces of media that stay loyal to the original lore. There are times when Riot Games releases new stories that aren’t part of the original Runeterra Universe such as the Star Guardians, Battle Academia, and other stories that serve only to make skin lines more interesting. However, even that attracts a large number of players to buy their products which help make the game thrive.
The biggest problem is that the stories have all stopped at a common point sometime in the universe’s timeline. This means that, unlike other video games, the story isn’t progressing nor does it have a solid conclusion. This is most likely because there are a lot of future projects that will continue these storylines and will deliver the conclusion that everybody has been asking for. One of those projects is most likely the League of Legends MMORPG that will release in the future.
The Effect of Lore Expansion to League of Legends
We’ve already expressed that we don’t think that League of Legends will be dying anytime soon because there are simply more new players getting into the game than players permanently quitting it. This means that even though Riot Games has started branching out to different sectors of the gaming world, it will have no lasting negative effect on the game’s future if that’s what you’re hoping to hear or are afraid to learn about. In fact, this will have a positive effect on the game’s growth.
Riot Games may not express it directly but they consider League of Legends as their primary market. This is why they are releasing new games that are called “A League of Legends Story” (Ruined King: A League of Legends Story, Hextech Mayhem: A League of Legends Story etc.). The purpose of the games they are releasing is to introduce new players to League of Legends by branching out to different platforms or give existing players to get hyped about playing their favorite champions again in the game after using them in the story.
Future of the Runeterra Universe
Runeterra will continue expanding into the future with the release of new champions in League of Legends and new cards in Legends of Runeterra. We can expect other games to introduce minor characters that have either already been mentioned in character stories or are completely new but have no real impact on the story. The first two mentioned games are probably going to be the biggest contributors to the expansion of the universe.
Unfortunately, the stories that will be released will only ether reveal bits of the past or expand on the present events of the Runeterra Universe. If you’re expecting the story to move forward, you’ll have to wait for bigger games such as the LoL MMO. League of Legends has no plans to move forward with the story because it will cause major changes in the character designs. However, Legends of Runeterra has the option to move forward and it’s extremely likely that they’ll do so for the sake of new card expansions.
Is Arcane Canon to the Runeterra Universe?
Not entirely. Arcane may have stayed loyal to the creation of the champions as we see them today but there are bits and pieces that have been retconned for the series. Whether this was an oversight from the writing team or an intentional change to make the series a lot more interesting, it means that the show is only 90% canon at best. We can say that most of the events are reliable pieces of lore except for the fact that some parts are inconsistent with the writing.
One example of inconsistent writing is that Arcane claims that it was Heimerdinger who found Viktor instead of Professor Stanwick, who in the series has long been dead. Jayce’s bio also claims that he is a flamboyant and arrogant student who always likes to flaunt his work but he seems pretty tame in the series. Regardless of the path taken, the end result seems to be the same which is the only important thing in making the story canon.