Riot was working on a Smash Bros-style fighting game, but MultiVersus helped convince it to pull the plug

(Image credit: Riot Games)

Riot Games was reportedly working on a League of Legends-based platform fighter inspired by Super Smash Bros Melee but ultimately decided to pull the plug on the project in late May.

Word of the unannounced project comes from journalist Mikhail Klimentov, who said that roughly 70-80 people were working on the game when Riot decided not to move ahead with it in late May. The game, codenamed Pool Party, was originally envisioned as a hardcore fighting game, according to the report, but evolved into something more casual over the course of its development, complete with "party game elements."

Riot communications director Joe Hixson told Klimentov, "We always have a number of projects in various phases of R&D, and spinning projects up and down happens multiple times a year."

Riot apparently envisioned Pool Party as another way to reinforce the League of Legends esports scene, according to the report, but was put off by the failure of MultiVersus to take off as initially expected. We actually liked MultiVersus quite a lot when it arrived in 2022 and it was very popular, but the unexpected announcement that "it was just a beta" in 2023, followed by the nearly year-long wait for it to come back, did it no favors.

MultiVersus rang up more than 110,000 concurrent players on Steam when it re-launched in May, but those numbers quickly dwindled: There are currently 4,750 people playing on Steam, which is a lot more than Suicide Squad: Kill the Justice League, but far from a big hit.

Another possible factor in the decision to pull the plug would be Riot's other, farther-along League-based fighting game, 2XKO—pronounced Toox-koe, by the way—which has been playable since 2023 and is currently gearing up for a proper launch in 2025.

Sources at Riot told PC Gamer the Pool Party project had actually been in intermittent development for a number of years already, predating games like All-Star Brawl and MultiVersus. MultiVersus didn't directly drive the decision to cancel the project, the sources said, but Riot has noted that the genre in general has struggled to maintain players. They also said that despite the time put into it, Pool Party was not at the point where it was being given serious consideration as an esport.

Riot's been looking to branch out beyond League of Legends for a few years now, with spinoffs like Ruined King, Bandle Tale, Legends of Runeterra, and Mageseeker. The effort has met with mixed success: The games have generally been well-received, but not huge hits, and Riot closed its Riot Forge publishing label earlier this year, citing a desire to focus on "fewer, high-impact projects."

Andy Chalk

Andy has been gaming on PCs from the very beginning, starting as a youngster with text adventures and primitive action games on a cassette-based TRS80. From there he graduated to the glory days of Sierra Online adventures and Microprose sims, ran a local BBS, learned how to build PCs, and developed a longstanding love of RPGs, immersive sims, and shooters. He began writing videogame news in 2007 for The Escapist and somehow managed to avoid getting fired until 2014, when he joined the storied ranks of PC Gamer. He covers all aspects of the industry, from new game announcements and patch notes to legal disputes, Twitch beefs, esports, and Henry Cavill. Lots of Henry Cavill.