Creators of WarCraft, StarCraft, and popular online shooter Overwatch, Blizzard Entertainment is a legendary game stable. This video game house’s recent and public internal controversies, however, have led to the public comparing its products to younger stable, Riot Games. We took a closer look.
Blizzard and its Past
Blizzard came into being as a videogame company named Silicon Synapse. The game developer/publisher started out creating game ports for other studios. It wasn’t until 1993, that the firm started working on its own titles, Rock n’ Roll Racing and The Lost Vikings, following a change of the company’s name to Chaos Studios.
After being acquired and sold off several times, by larger firms, the firm, in 1996, acquired Condor Games, which had been working on a new gaming title. The merger of the two-game studios spawned what is now Blizzard Entertainment, with the game that Condor had been developing becoming the newly formed firm’s initial offering. That game was Diablo.
Blizzard in the recent years
Blizzard traditionally isn’t a company that churns out new titles every year. Instead, they prefer to work on expanding their existing line of titles with expansions and new versions. This changed however, when the company split from Vivendi in 2014 when the company that brought the world the Warcraft, StarCraft, and Diablo franchises released Hearthstone, a collectible card game.
The following year in 2015, Blizzard released another title, Heroes of the Storm, a casual multiplayer, online brawler title meant to compete, directly, with rival firm, Riot’s League of Legends. The year after that, they capped their three year run of new title releases with Overwatch, a game that would go-on to become a competitor to – Riot developed – genre-mate, VALORANT.
The company’s public image has taken quite a knock in recent years, in light of controversial decisions, and claims of poor exports management. Blizzard, who’s title were once esports favourites has seen it’s patronage number shrink, in recent years, as a result.
Riot games past and starting point
Founded in 2006, Los Angeles-based Riot games spent the first 10 years of its life dedicated to a single game, League of Legends. The League creator was founded on the notion that a company could be successful through long term monetization – a business model based on Asian gaming titles, who’s stables issue on a free-to-play basis, but offer in-game purchases.
Although League of Legends was a popular title, after a decade of annual updates to the globally-played game, Riot announced a number of multiplayer titles. In 2019, the studio released a League of Legends spinoff title for mobile (iOS and Android,) Teamfight Tactics, an auto-battler that served as Riot’s initial foray into other competitive markets.
A month after the release of Teamfight Tactics, Riot published their first stand-alone title since League, Legends of Runeterra. This title turned out to be a collectible card game, similar to Blizzard’s Hearthstone. Legends of Runeterra, however, was designed to be more accessible.
Competitiveness of Blizzard and Riot Games
Then came an online shooter from Riot Games that would be a direct competitor to Blizzard’s Overwatch, VALORANT. Though being claimed, by critics, to be a copy of Overwatch, VALORANT is very much its own game. Despite also being futuristically themed, and players having special abilities (among other similarities) VALORANT is more similar to CounterStrike, or Rainbow Six; complete with the fact that there’s almost no coming back from a headshot.
The two companies represent two separate generations in gaming culture. Blizzard appears to have assumed the old-guard position, struggling to translate it’s past successes into a new generation of gamers, while Riot, on the other hand, seems to understand the current age of gaming better. Riot’s titles are more mobile-friendly than Blizzard’s. Being the younger of the two firms, Riot seems to have learned from Blizzard’s follies, and is capitalizing on opportunities that the Warcraft creator is missing.