League of Legends might be coming to iOS and Android home screens. Reuters is reporting via multiple sources that U.S.-based developer Riot Games is working with its Chinese owners Tencent on a mobile version of its popular MOBA LoL. The pair have been working on the port for over a year but we may have to wait until at least 2020 to play it.
“League of Legends is not doing as well as it used to,” Newzoo industry analyst Gu Tianyi told Reuters, “so Riot badly needs a new way to monetize the game, especially considering that it is Riot’s only game.”
Gu added, however, it might be hard for a mobile League of Legends to achieve the same level of success without innovation in gameplay. It would also allow Tencent and Riot to organize more international competitions. The League of Legends World Championship Finals was 2018’s biggest e-sports tournament by live hours watched across Twitch and YouTube Gaming, boasting 81.1 million hours watched.
A source with knowledge of the upcoming mobile game told Kotaku that it “plays differently” from League of Legends, although it retains the hit MOBA’s general appearance. “The game is not a 1-to-1 port,” the source said, adding that it has different items and runes and, potentially, fewer characters. “The gameplay is built for mobile.”
A mobile version would likely bring in more Asian players, who tend to prefer mobile-based games while Western gamers tend to prefer desktops or consoles for more sophisticated gameplay.
Riot has published one video game in its 13 years of existing. Although League of Legends is still popular on PC, a well-regarded mobile game could help sustain its dominance for years to come if it proves appealing. For players, the new gameplay could be an altogether different experience, even though we’ll have to wait for the release to experience what it brings to the table.