MARCH 10, 2016 • Riot Games has acquired Los Altos, Calif.-based Radiant Entertainment for an undisclosed sum. The acquisition is the first for Riot. Radiant was founded in 2013 by brothers Tom and Tony Cannon. Their first title is the crowdfunded town building simulation game, Stonehearth, which is still in alpha. Also in alpha was Radiant’s second project, the free-to-play fighting game Rising Thunder. Although production of Stonehearth will continue, Rising Thunder is being shut down. The latter’s team is being redirected immediately into a yet-to-be-named new project.
Impact: As the first acquisition for the Tencent Holdings Ltd. studio, the question is why Radiant and where is Riot going with League of Legends? The smart money suggests that a League of Legends fighting game is in the cards and help is needed toward that goal. Why? LoL is a huge IP that won’t always rake in the level of revenue it does now. Strategically, it makes sense to extend the IP into new directions. As for Rising Thunder, it got positive early notices for its good looking Unreal Engine graphics and the emphasis on taking complexity out of playing a fighting game. Riot could just be adding skilled design staff to its own efforts, or there is interest in remaking Rising Thunder in the League of Legends IP. Then again, Radiant could be starting from scratch on whatever they have been assigned. By whatever avenue, a League of Legends fighting title would be a logical extension on its MOBA hit, especially with Blizzard Entertainment’s Overwatch creating buzz through its recent betas. Our view is that Tencent is taking a major strategic step to support its moneymaking worldwide hit. It has been difficult for direct competitors to gain traction against League of Legends except for Dota 2, but there is a lot of action in MOBA-style FPS entries. In addition to Overwatch, Gearbox Software’s Battleborn and Motiga, Inc.’s Gigantic are also major projects – too big for Tencent to ignore.