Riot Games is kind of an ironically-named developer, because for all practical purposes it only makes one, the decade-old League of Legends. But co-founder Marc Merrill told Variety that the studio is looking to branch out into other things, although it's still trying to figure out exactly what.
“It’s an exciting time for us as a company,” Merrill said. “We’re emerging from being the ‘League of Legends’ company to whatever it will be in the future. We’ve been working for such a long period of time on so many things.”
Merrill hinted at one possibility in July:
Should we build a MMO? Yay or nay? https://t.co/doZs8zkLNXJuly 25, 2018
He warned that the tweet shouldn't be taken as an "MMO incoming" klaxon, saying that "we may never deliver on that question." At the same time, he added, "it is so validating and exciting to have players' minds focused on what could come.
He also made it clear that it's an idea he's put a lot of thought into. He declined to answer when asked directly whether Riot is working on an MMO, but instead took a minute to muse on the nature of MMOs, and the apparent invincibility of the game that dominates the genre.
"The question that is really interesting and relevant is, ‘What does the future of MMOs look like?’ I think we have a view, others have a view, players have a view," Merrill said. "World of Warcraft continues to be a dominating game. There is a really good argument that going head-to-head with WoW may not be the best move, but who knows. We’re exploring a lot of stuff, thinking about a lot of stuff."
That includes games that may not be related to League of Legends, but the intent is to give them the same sort of very specific focus: "We’re not going to try and please everyone or do things even oriented to a mass market," he said. "We think of League of Legends as a niche market that’s really focused."
"There are lots of games people buy and play on the app store, Steam library, on consoles," he said. "That creates a lot of interesting questions and challenges, but we focus on what would be worth someone’s time. That’s the only type of game we want to create: games with longevity — that’s worth your time."
Riot recently released a new comic and cinematic video featuring Ryze, one of League of Legends' original champions, expanding on his backstory and quest for the World Runes. It's the kind of thing that wouldn't look at all out of place in a promo for an MMO.