Riot Games Esports Co-Head Talks ‘League of Legends’ 2017 World Championship

The world’s top competitive video gamers are facing off in China over the next few weeks for the League of Legends 2017 World Championship, one of the premier tournaments in the fast-growing world of esports.

Hosted by Riot Games, the company that makes the popular League of Legends (LoL) online game, the tournament’s early rounds turned in a fair amount of excitement and upsets, though last year’s champion is still standing. The Korean professional esports team SK Telecom T1 remains a favorite in a field that also features teams like Samsung Galaxy (sponsored by the South Korean electronics giant) and the North American team Cloud 9.

If none of those names ring a bell, then the rapid ascension of esports has likely passed you by. Competitive gaming’s popularity around the world has exploded in recent years, and the esports industry is now expected to generate more than $ 1.5 billion in annual revenue by 2020, according to one estimate.

Meanwhile, major professional sports teams like the New York Yankees and Cleveland Cavaliers are throwing money at esports, while tech giants like Amazon and Google compete to lure gaming fans to stream live gameplay and competitions on their digital video platforms, Twitch and YouTube, respectively. Last year, Riot Games (which is owned by Chinese tech giant Tencent) signed a reported $ 300 million streaming rights deal with Walt Disney’s BAMTech, and this year’s LoL world championship tournament is available for streaming around the world on Twitch and YouTube.

The influx of media rights deals has also opened the door for a range of high-profile corporate sponsors, with Riot Games landing sponsorships in recent years from the likes of Acer Gaming, Coca-Cola, T-Mobile, and Mercedes-Benz.

This week Fortune caught up with Jarred Kennedy, the co-head of esports at Riot Games, to discuss the world championship (the finals will take place Nov. 4 at the Bird’s Nest National Stadium in Beijing) as well as the overall growth of the esports industry and Riot’s plans, much like rival Activision Blizzard, to remodel its own esports league after major professional sports leagues like the NFL and NBA.

The following conversation has been edited and condensed for clarity.

Fortune: What are some of the big storylines fans will be following heading into the quarterfinals of the LoL World Championships this weekend?

Kennedy: Where to begin? We’ve got some great teams that have made it through. Lots of regions are still alive. You’ve got your defending champions, SK Telecom T1, where they always are, which is contending. But, you’ve got teams that are potentially going to give them a run for their money. I think if [Chinese team] Royal Never Give Up and SK Telecom T1 wind up meeting in the semifinals in Shanghai that could be incredible. Honestly, any of the match-ups with the teams we have right now are going to be really fun to watch, because they’ve all proven themselves to get to this stage. And, the competition just keeps getting better and better the deeper we get into the tournament. That’s one of the reasons that worlds is so compelling.

How has the media rights aspect of the esports business expanded in recent years for Riot?

I think what you’re seeing is the maturation of our sport. With esports, I wouldn’t say it’s entered the mainstream, but it is increasingly an option that marketers look to. And, that’s great for us, because what we’re trying to do is build up the overall ecosystem, and having those increases in revenue coming in on that side allows us to invest in the professional players, the teams, and it allows these players to make a career out of this in a really meaningful way.

That leads into the bigger question of the esports industry’s overall growth trajectory. What are the areas of business that you think are most ripe for increasing revenue in the industry?

There are lots of different pools of revenue. Big ones would include media rights, which not unlike the NFL, NBA, or the Premier League, media rights are a large driver. For some games, including ours, there’s in-game content, and that’s something that’s unique to esports, as opposed to stick-and-ball or traditional sports, where there’s an opportunity for teams to participate in some of the in-game revenue streams. I think those are probably the biggest ones, but we’re always on the lookout for new ways to engage with fans of our sport.

You used to work at Sony Pictures Television. Would it benefit esports to make that leap to being more of a presence on traditional TV networks?

We don’t feel the need to go to TV as a point of validation. We’ve found that a lot of our fans of this sport are online, they tend to consume digitally, and thus the BAMTech deal and some other things we’ve done—negotiations with Twitch, YouTube, etc.—is just to serve them where they are. But, we’re not looking to be on NBC at 8 p.m. on a Saturday broadcasting to all of America, because we don’t think that’s where our fans want to watch, and we think it would probably be casting too wide of a net.

Why model Riot Games’ North American League of Legends Championship Series league after major professional sports leagues with revenue-sharing and a players association?

We’ve always looked at professional sports, not because we want to model exactly what other sports do, but even when you’re attempting to innovate, sometimes there are things that already exist in the world that work really well and work for a reason, and we shouldn’t be afraid to use some of that. Our goal is to have sophisticated owners of teams that can operate at a high level, know how to build businesses, know how to build sports, and who aren’t going to be working against each other, but are going to be collaborating in the best interests of fans around the world.

Going back to your point about esports not yet being in the mainstream, what needs to happen to put esports on the same level as one of the major professional sports leagues?

It takes time to get to the scale of where major sports are today, and I don’t think we have any illusions that we’re going to be able to do that overnight. We do have the advantage of being a digital property that tends to grow faster and can grow more virally. Friends tend to bring their friends into the sport, we found. We’re looking to build the best ecosystem for our fans that we can and we hope that by doing that it will thrive and grow, and over time we’ll have a chance to be as big as some of the major sports that exist today. But our primary goal is delivering value to fans day in and day out. And, if we can do that, then the rest will take care of itself.

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Oculus Rift made me realize I only want to play games in virtual reality

I’m too disorganized for real-time strategy. I’ve had my fill of fast-paced flight games. I’d don’t want to play another minigame collection ever again.

But I’ve found that I love all of these games in virtual reality, and it’s not just about novelty.

On Monday, Oculus VR held an event as part of the Game Developers Conference in San Francisco to show off the roster of games coming to the Rift head-mounted display, and by the end of the day I realized that I was enjoying nearly everything I tried. That includes games I’ve played before on other platforms and didn’t really care for. Analysts with tech adviser Digi-Capital think VR is going to grow into a $ 30 billion industry by 2020, and it’s easier to imagine that reality knowing that I want sports sims, role-playing games, and everything else in the Rift.

I tried out a variety of Oculus Rift games as part of the company’s event. I did VR Sports, where I used the Touch motion controllers to throw a basketball behind my back and over my shoulder while going up for a dunk in slow motion. That’s a unique “experience” that I haven’t had in any other game, and it’s one that I can’t wait to try with my friends and family. But I already knew that novel new ways of gaming is a big selling point for VR.

What surprised me more than VR Sports is a the game AirMech: Command, which is a continuation of the AirMech game that first came out for PC back in 2012.

AirMech is a third-person arena battler. It is essentially an action real-time strategy game that forces you to manage troops around a map while also flying your own mech around. I tried the original game a few years ago, and I appreciated what it was trying to do. But I also bounced off that iteration for the same reason I fall off of most RTS releases: I have a hard time managing the map. In a lot of RTS games, AirMech included, you only ever see a small portion of the map at a time. For me, it’s hard to keep the off-screen parts of the map in my head. And that’s not a skill I’ve wanted to spend a lot of time developing.

But Airmech in VR is completely different in this regard. Instead of having narrow tunnel vision, the Rift version makes it feel like you are playing a dynamic tabletop game. The board sprawls out in front of you, and you can see more things at once. I can navigate a board game with no problems because it’s part of the real world. And thanks to Rift, AirMech: Command might as well be a part of the real world. It amazed me how fast AirMech clicked with me thanks to this more intimate perspective.

I only got to play it for around 30 minutes, but this is a day-one purchase for me. I can’t wait to lose hours to this game, which takes advantage of VR in an unexpected way.

Like AirMech, Crytek’s The Climb uses the Xbox One controller as its primary input device. That’s interesting because The Climb is a game about using your hands to scale a mountain. You’d think this would make it ideal for the Rift’s Touch controller, and it’s possible that Crytek will implement that in the future. But playing it with a gamepad emphasized again how interesting VR can make everything. The Climb is something that I think I would enjoy even on a monitor or television. It is a series of environmental puzzles where you need to figure out where to put your hands while ensuring you are always gripping to the wall by holding down a trigger button. It’s clever, and it has a lot of potential for racing against your friends’ times.

But playing The Climb had me jazzed. It was another game I just wanted to keep playing for hours. It was so much to make a difficult jump and then look down to see how far I would’ve fallen had I missed. But it also makes the moment-to-moment gameplay more immediate and interesting. I really remember feeling like I was hugging the side of that mountain, and I was leaning my head around to see what my options were for my next hand placement.

After getting time with AirMech and The Climb, I am imagining getting other games I would typically play on a console in VR. I’d love something like a 16-bit Japanese RPG where I can play the game from in third-person and see all of the awesome spells happening, like I they were happening right down in front of me — and I’ve never finished a JRPG in my life.

And I think it’s important to realize that VR isn’t about 15 minute “experiences.” It is about breathing new life into older genres. That’s something we’re getting when it comes to the Rift launch platformer Lucky’s Tale, but I hope we get even more because I can already tell that I’ll struggle to return to a 2D static screen after playing VR.

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Epic Games reveals Oculus Rift shooter Bullet Train

Bullet Train.

First-person shooting is about to get a lot more realistic.

Developer Epic Games revealed Bullet Train today, an FPS for the Oculus Rift virtual reality device, during the Oculus Connect 2 conference in Los Angeles. Made with Unreal Engine 4, this game supports the Oculus Touch controllers, which can map the movements of your hands in VR. Virtual reality can become a big deal in gaming, but it will need great software to attract consumers. Epic has a track record of making hits with series like Unreal and Gears of War.

“Master the art of teleportation, time manipulation, and close-quarters combat to blast through resistance forces,” Epic notes in a press release sent to GamesBeat. “Thanks to Unreal Engine technology and the Oculus Touch motion controllers, you can physically interact with an array of weapons, from guns to grenades to missiles, and even feel them through haptic feedback.”

You can watch the trailer for Bullet train below.

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What are the names of these games?

Question by : What are the names of these games?
Hi! A long time ago I used to have a computer like this but then it got upgraded when it got like a virus on it; http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/6/64/Windows_XP_Luna.png

And now, I have a laptop and that computer doesn’t work anymore.
I used to play some of the games when I was little, so I was wondering what the names of these games are..

1. The first game that I played was like where you have to bounce a ball back and forth when it comes down after hitting blocks. There’s like this block thing at the bottom you control, and when the little ball comes down, you have to go where its going so you can bounce it back up towards the blocks.
2. The second game was where you have to like balance a ball in a 3d platform, I think there were spikes or somewhere that if you got the ball in there, it would pop and you would have to start over.
3. The third game was a game that reminded me of Hello Kitty. It wasn’t Hello Kitty though, I’m not sure because I can’t remember that one but all that I remember is that it reminds me of Hello Kitty.
It had pink characters or whatever, and it was in the clouds. Like little cartoon characters.

Can anybody help me and tell me the names of these games?
Please! I’ve been wondering for a couple days now. Any help is appreciated.

Thanks.

Best answer:

Answer by Gradicus
1. arkanoids (has many other names)
2. marble madness, marble blast or kula world ?
3. kirby’s dreamland ?

Know better? Leave your own answer in the comments!

How do I get rid of the Cloud icon on steam and still play my games?!?

Question by : How do I get rid of the Cloud icon on steam and still play my games?!?
hi. one day for my birthday, i bought left 4 dead for 40$ !!! i wanted to play it like 3 months later but it was uninstalled. when I tried to install/play it, a cloud icon popped up on the status bar. now when i try to play it, it says, cannot connect to the steam server. please try again in a few minutes… or something like that. i bought this game when it first came out for 40 dollars and i want to play it!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! help?
thanks.

Best answer:

Answer by GB
I heard that thepiratebay was pretty good at this kinda thing. And free!

Add your own answer in the comments!

list of old ps2 games?

Question by Ell W: list of old ps2 games?
i had a demo disk ages ago that had a demo of dark cloud and a video to jak and daxter and it had a demo to a game and the only think i remeber about it was a waterfall type thing and kind of platform like at the beggining

i got the disk with a ps2 mag

where can i find a list of old ps2 games where i could possibly find this game? or if anyone has that demo disk what at the demos on it?

Best answer:

Answer by Nomad
last time i checked you can get dark cloud for like 5 bucks at gamestop(i think jak and daxter is about 5 as well)

Know better? Leave your own answer in the comments!

why cant you play graphic intensive games online?

Question by abhinav: why cant you play graphic intensive games online?
Games like Crysis, Call Of Duty require powerful graphics, why cant they be hosted online with users connecting to play from anywhere. Isn’t it a logical extension of cloud computing, or are internet connections not fast enough yet?

Best answer:

Answer by David D
The video data would have to be sent to the computer displaying the game (and for video games, 1080p (Blu-Ray quality) is considered pretty low). This requires an enormous amount of bandwidth (both for the client, and for the server (except the server has to multiple it by the number of clients).

Then you introduce lag by having to send all keystrokes and mouse movements all the way across the network rather then just to the local computer. This doesn’t help for games that require rapid reactions.

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