Riot Games is producing an animated series based on its League of Legends video game.
The series, titled Arcane, will be developed in-house at Riot and animated by French studio Fortiche Productions.
The announcement comes as Riot celebrates the 10th anniversary of League of Legends – launched in October 2009 – a so-called MOBA game that pits two teams of five against one another in a combat arena where the winner is the first side to destroy the opposing team’s home camp.
The game boasts 100 million monthly players and a string of official competitive esports leagues and tournaments that attract millions of viewers – and millions of dollars in prize pools.
Speaking to The Hollywood Reporter, Riot co-founder Marc Merrill called the animation a “ big, exciting endeavour”, and the ideal way to reflect on the past decade as the game evolved.
"Originally, League started off with a bunch of characters and we threw them together really quickly. Over time, players became really attached to the characters and we wanted to build more of a universe around them," he says.
With Arcane, Riot hopes to tap into the lore and stories that have organically formed around the game. Though there’s no official narrative or plot to the game, Riot does introduce new characters with cgi short films, aiming to give players a sense of what the new combatant brings to the mix.
"We have been, over the last few years, experimenting with what can longer-form epic storytelling look like,” says Brandon Beck, the game's other co-founder. “Animation felt like a natural way for us to deliver a fantastical world.”
The animation will be aimed at the game’s core audience of teenagers and young adults, 14-plus, and is pegged for release sometime in 2020.
Riot also announced other expansions to the franchise, notably League of Legends: Wild Rift, a new video game built from the ground up for mobile and console gamers. Until now the series has been restricted to PCs and Macs, but the developer hopes to welcome a legion of new fans who prefer to play games on consoles in their living room, or on mobiles while on the go.