Riot Games, creators of the monstrously successful multiplayer online battle arena title League of Legends, have confirmed that they are developing a new fighting game at the year’s biggest fighter tournament EVO 2019. Tom Cannon, Riot employee and co-founder of Evolution Champion Series (EVO for short) confirmed the news on Friday, with eSports reporter Rod Breslau sharing the video clip on Twitter.
Breaking: EVO founder and Riot employee Tom Cannon has confirmed the worst kept secret in gaming – Riot is officially working on a fighting game, the first game outside of League of Legends for Riot pic.twitter.com/P3BGaVs4u4
— Rod Breslau (@Slasher) August 2, 2019
“Back in 2016 when we joined forces with Riot I said that we were going to go in the hole for a while. I want to be able to let people in on maybe the worst kept secret in the universe which is that I can confirm we are working on a fighting game for Riot,” Cannon said on Friday during an EVO stream.
Tom and Tony Cannon founded Radiant Entertainment in 2015, and were joined in 2016 by Seth Killian, former Capcom community manager for Street Fighter and current Lead Designer at Riot Games. Radiant was the company responsible for the fighting game Rising Thunder, a free to play versus game that featured pugilistic robots and simple, novice-friendly inputs for the character’s movesets.
“At Riot, what we’re really trying to do is make something that players here can really be proud of. That everyone here will feel like, ‘Yeah. This was made for me.'”
Riot acquired Radiant Entertainment in 2016 and canceled Rising Thunder (an open-source version of the game was made available in 2018). With Tom and Tony Cannon working at Riot alongside Seth Killian, many in the fighting game community figured that something fighting game-related was in the works. This will be the first major development project aside from League of Legends for Riot Games in any genre.
Fighting games are steadily becoming more of an eSports draw, with the Capcom Pro Tour for Street Fighter and the Tekken World Tour, as well as Red Bull eSports events, bringing lots of new eyes to the genre. This year’s EVO 2019 registration numbers were astronomical and in some cases record-breaking for almost every main event game, with Super Smash Bros. Ultimate in first place with nearly 3,500 entrants.
It’s only natural for a company like Riot Games to be interested in a piece of that pie, and a fighting game designed in a way that’s similar to Rising Thunder often seems like the way to help get new players into fighting games, since the execution “problem” is sometimes a barrier to entry. David Sirlin’s Fantasy Strike follows a similar if controversial philosophy, and is a game that aims to favor tactical decision making over dexterous inputs to make fighting games accessible and approachable to a bigger audience.
No specifics were given about the fighting games in development at Riot, just a confirmation that the project does indeed exist. It’s likely going to be some time before Riot is ready to show off assets or gameplay their new venture. “I’m not here to say the game is coming out any time soon, but we do feel like we’re making progress,” said Cannon.