What is League of Legends: Supremacy?

Josh Augustine at

lol_2

Riot Games' primary domain manager, MarkMonitor, has just snatched up a ton of URLs all involving two key phrases: "League of Legends" and "Supremacy." What do we know so far, what could this mystery announcement be, and how far off is it? We take a look at all the facts and speculation inside.

What do we know?

MarkMonitor is a domain management company that, according to their official website, is used by over half of the companies on the Fortune 100 list. Their list of clientele includes Time Warner, Levi Strauss & Co., Nokia, and Riot Games, among many others. Near the end of February, MarkMonitor acquired two new domains, leagueoflegendssupremacy.com (WhoIs) and leagueoflegendssupremacy.net (WhoIs).

Last Friday, MarkMonitor purchased 15 new domains that all seem meant to catch people trying to go to those two sites, but who have typos or use shorthand. The list includes URLs like lolsupremecy.com (WhoIs) and leaugeoflegendssupremacy.net (WhoIs). Two days before that, MarkMonitor also acquired two existing domains that could not have come cheap, supremacy.com (WhoIs) and supremacy.net (WhoIs).

Riot Games has not made any public statement about these purchases and declined to comment when we approached them this morning.

It's a typo: the game is actually League of Legends: SHARK Supremacy

What could it be?

50% chance it's a new gameplay mode for League of Legends
MarkMonitor did a similar move four months before LoL's Dominion mode was announced. It picked up leagueoflegendsdominion.com (WhoIs) in April 2011 and the new game mode was announced in August 2011. This could easily be a similar situation and we'll see a new game mode for LoL announced in the near future.

The most obvious addition would be a mode that embraces the popular custom ruleset devised by players known as ARAB (all random all bottom) and ARAM (all random all mid). In these games, players are required to pick random champs and file into a single lane where they fight in large groups the whole time. That type of battle already seems to line up with the "Supremacy" concept, we know that Riot Games' developers play it regularly, and seems like it would be a natural fit as an official mode.

30% chance it's a new PC game entirely
But something's nagging at me, making me think that this might be bigger than just a new game mode. Two somethings, actually: supremacy.com and supremacy.net. Riot didn't acquire dominion.com when they launched the new game mode last year, and it seems a bit like overkill for one of many game modes inside League of Legends. It's possible that Supremacy could be a standalone spin-off that rests in the same universe in LoL and maybe uses the same champions, but is a totally different style of game that is played through a different client.

If this is the case, Riot could be looking to do some cross-integration across their games set in the same universe like CCP is doing with EVE Online and DUST 514. With Diablo III just around the corner, I can't help but dream of a dungeon-crawler that lets me swap between my favorite LoL champions on the fly, churning through creeps as a team, sort of like Darkspore's hero system, but with the awesome LoL champs we already love instead of weird monsters.

Besides, Riot Games has almost quintupled in size over the past couple years, leaping from around 100 employees to over 500 currently. We know they've got the manpower to create a new game alongside regular LoL development.

0% chance it's a new gameplay mode ARAC (all random all cuties)

15% chance it's a browser/mobile game tie-in to League of Legends
This is another path suggested by the pick-up of supremacy.com and supremacy.net. I'm not entirely sure what form this sort of game would take, or what's it's purpose would be (although I'm sure Riot would never go the route of Rise of Immortals or Prime World and imbalance the game by having you level up each individual hero outside of individual matches through a metagame).

Technically, a League of Legends tower-defense mobile game already exists, but it was not developed by Riot and the team isn't happy with it at all. Supremacy might be a game to replace that archaic project for good and give LoL players something to do while on the go or at work, and possibly earn some in-game perks like IP boosts or forum titles for winning. If Supremacy is a game along these lines, I'd expect it to be more focused on the champions you already own than the existing tower defense game is.

4% chance it's a physical tabletop game of some kind
This one's a longshot. Board and card games are seeing a huge comeback lately in our geek circles, and Riot Games' President Marc Merrill is said to be a big fan of the Warhammer tabletop games. It's also not unusual for developers to create board game equivalents of new videogame concepts so they can test out the mechanics and see if they work before going into full development mode, and some of those mock-ups have been released as retail tabletop games afterwards. BioWare released a tabletop roleplaying game in the vein of Dungeons & Dragons when they made Dragon Age, and Petroglyph released their board game version of Guardians of Graxia in 2010. But while it wouldn't be without some precedent, this one's still very unlikely.

1% chance it's owned by another company MarkMonitor represents
Hey, it's technically possible, even if it wouldn't make any sense.

Viral marketing campaign for a new Sims expansion?

How far off is it?

MarkMonitor registered the URLs for the Dominion game mode four months before the game mode was announced and five months before it actually launched. Dominion was delayed a bit beyond what Riot had initially planned for its release window, but it's probably safe to assume that their desire to perfect Supremacy (whatever it is) before its launch will lead to a similar delay. If they follow a similar release schedule, we could expect to see Supremacy announced in about two months, around the end of June, with a launch coming late July/early August.

Just a reminder that all of this is speculation at this point, as Riot Games hasn't made any official announcement. But while we're all dreaming, what do you hope Supremacy will be? As always you can download and play League of Legends for free.