The mobile version of League of Legends by Riot Games, one of the world’s most popular PC online games, officially released on March 29, 2021 in North and South America.
However, online gossip has been circulating around the development of Riot’s MOBA (multiplayer online battle arena) mobile game, League of Legends: Wild Rift.
International media outlets reported speculations with regards to one of Wild Rift’s many MOBA competitions in Southeast Asia months before the North American region release, the massively popular Mobile Legends: Bang Bang.
Esports Talk, an esports news outlet, reported on a rumour that Mobile Legends content creators were paid not to feature Wild Rift.
The same article also wondered if this may be a response by Shanghai Moonton Technology, Mobile Legends’ developer and publisher, to counter Riot Games’ mobile esports’ movement in Southeast Asia, where Mobile Legends boasts millions of players.
Micky, another news and media outlet based in Australia, reported that other content creators in other countries like the Philippines were also offered not to “release any WR (Wild Rift) gameplay” by unknown parties.
The media outlet said it attested the information from a Facebook discussion. Unfortunately, the discussion was restricted and cannot be viewed.
Both media outlets also cited a local Indonesian news agency October 2020 report, stating that a professional Mobile Legends player claimed to have received an offer to not play Wild Rift.
There is no clear evidence directly linking Moonton or any of its affiliates to the alleged rumours, thus both outlets also stressed that these all but remain speculations.
However, this rocky relationship between the two game developers cuts even deeper.
Many speculate that Riot Games finally created Wild Rift to directly compete with Moonton, despite allegedly rejecting its parent company’s proposal, Tencent, of creating a mobile version of the game several years ago.
According to a May 2019 Reuters article, Riot Games declined to develop a mobile game version of the high-grossing game as per Tencent’s proposal.
However, back in 2017, Riot Games filed a lawsuit against Moonton for copyright infringement, trademark infringement, and false designation of origin according to the lawsuit’s main document. A copy of the full document can be found in the Court Listener website.
Mobile Legends’ official response denied any of the allegations on its Facebook page, receiving support from players who expressed dissatisfaction with Riot. The case was then terminated due to the district court finding that though it respects Riot’s choice of forum, it would be unfair for the case to be tried in the Central District of California, according to an April 2018 article by Fordham Intellectual Property, Media & Entertainment Law Journal.
The case was moved to China by Tencent with Moonton being fined $2.9 million as a result. However, Mobile Legends did not shut down after the lawsuit and retained its millions of users.
Many internet users speculated a connection between Riot’s decision to finally create a mobile version of League of Legends to compete against Moonton in the mobile gaming market.
For example, a Redditor going by the username of Npoes posted a discussion thread, which garnered over a thousand of upvotes, stating that “even though they [Moonton] were hit with a $2.9M lawsuit, there still was no actual competitor in the market who could threaten Mobile Legends.”
Thus, Npoes speculated that Wild Rift was Riot’s “verdict to the Mobile Legends’ misdeeds.”
There are no statements by Riot to confirm the speculations.
However, according to the League of Legends’ Wild Rift announcement in October 2019, the game was brought to mobile (and consoles soon) to allow both old and new players, as well as their friends, to “dive into the world of League together.”
Michael Chow, executive producer of Wild Rift, said that players reported the PC version of League tough to fit into their lifestyle.
“You’ve also been telling us that you simply can’t play League with a lot of friends you’d like to game with,” said Chow. “But also, because League takes a long time to learn. The matches are really long and so on. So, we built a new rift you can play on console and mobile, with 15-20 minute matches and a dual control stick scheme that’s intuitive and satisfying and still super deep.”
Riot Games still has not yet confirmed an expected release date for the game’s console version.
For roleplaying game enthusiasts, the company also announced in February that they are hiring for roles to develop a massively multiplayer online role-playing game (MMORPG) based on Runeterra, the world of League of Legends.