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Riot Games Aims to Please Both Fighting Game and LoL Players

Elizbar Ramazashvili
6 min

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Riot Games’ Strategy With 2XKO
How can the company marry two prominent niches together

I’m a big fighting games fan, but at the same time, I’m a League of Legends player who’s been in love with the world of Runeterra for more than a decade. I distinctly remember the times when Riot Games was essentially ridiculed for having an “s” in the name while having only one game. But a lot of time has passed since then, and today, Riot has a portfolio of successful titles, and they even had a universally acclaimed animated show, Arcane.

When Riot Games brought in the developers of Rising Thunder, it was obvious that they wanted to add a fighting game to their lineup of games, and with the know-how of the Cannon brothers and the company’s bottomless pockets, it could become a reality. Project L was the working title, but they revealed the real one recently – it’s 2XKO.

And while the name is quite ridiculous, it also means we’re on the proverbial finish straight before the game is released. It’s real, it can be played at various events. The happening status is undeniably “it’s.”

But what does Riot try to achieve with it, what does the company expect in terms of player base, and how will it be presented?

One of the biggest hurdles for Riot Games, one of the biggest problems to overcome, is to marry two very different audiences – the endemic fighting game players who have preconceived expectations of what a fighting game should look like, and the existing League of Legends players. The crossover probably does exist – we know of many professional FGC players who have dabbled in casual LoL, and lots of current and former LoL pros play fighters. But it’s not as big of a crossover to just leave the situation to settle on its own.

Recently, Tekken’s Katsuhiro Harada spoke about the preferences of the current young players and how many of them choose MOBAs for their team aspect. 2XKO addresses this in a way by giving players a chance to compete as a team of two, with each controlling their individual characters. This way, you’ll have someone to blame for your losses in the fighting game as well! Jokes aside, this way, you can convince your friends to interface with the fascinating world of Runeterra without any need to play League itself. And honestly, even if the genre is different, it will still produce the same highs – it’s a skill and reaction-based game that rewards mastery, knowledge, and dedication. As the devs promised, the game will have a low skill floor, so even a complete newbie will be able to experience the joys of winning.

League players would very much like to see their favorite champions recreated faithfully – and there’s a huge blank canvas for it. You see, League characters have only four abilities each, with some notable exceptions, so the devs of the 2XKO need to come up with a lot more, and all of those should feel authentic and fitting: Darius should not be able to airdash across the screen or shoot projectiles at you.

But the fighting game fans won’t be concerned with that. What they need is a competent game, first and foremost. There haven’t been an awful lot of new fighting game IPs popping out lately, so a fresh take on the genre from the company that’s known for its competitive and esports prowess is more than eagerly anticipated. If the Cannon brothers manage to give them what they want, the success will be within the arm’s reach.

Riot’s know-how should alleviate some of the pains many fighting game fans face – bad connectivity. Riot Games has put considerable effort and resources while setting up the infrastructure for League of Legends, and 2XKO will leverage it to give both the wired connection sub-10 ms and WI-Fi players a similarly good experience. This is something any gamer who has played an online game before could appreciate.

But who will be the players? Currently, we have a noticeable regional divide in terms of interest and power. Asia loves Street Fighter, Tekken is also quire big, and China is especially in love with the King of Fighters. Some Asian countries like Korea and Pakistan lean towards Tekken more, while Japan is really good at Street Fighter. North America and South America play everything, but unlike Asia, they also have Mortal Kombat. Europe is generally the same, but with a dash of DBFZ.

Overall, though, the main audiences for 2XKO will be the regions with either preexisting FGC playerbase or strong League presence. Korea is a good example of both.

To help facilitate this regional interest, Riot Games has announced that you’ll be able to have a hands-on experience with 2XKO at various events throughout the year.

This is another aspect of Riot’s strategy. The marketing for the game has well and truly begun. They’re probing the “soil” to gauge the readiness of the players to accept the new player in town (they’re more than ready), while establishing valuable connections that will ultimately be the loudest voices that can help promote the competitive side of the game.

Riot understands the value of working with the community, so expect them to do much more in localized markets they expect the most active audience for the game.

But in the end though, what needs to happen first and foremost is for the game to be good on release. Bad launches stay in the memory for a long time, but if 2XKO’s netcode is good, if the gameplay is fun and somewhat balanced, and the character roster is diverse and appealing, in many ways, the deed will be half done already. Word-of-mouth in the day and age of the Internet is quite valuable, and while we don’t necessarily know what Riot is planning to do with the game concretely, we can, at the very least, expect it to be competent and fun. See you in 2025, when the game is out!

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