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What Happened to Riot Games' MMO?

Riot Games is “resetting [its] development path” on the long-awaited Runeterra MMO. Here’s what we know about why the project is “going dark” and how its development will proceed.
Riot Games' original job posting seeking employees for its MMO.

Riot Games' original job posting seeking employees for its MMO.

Riot Games is one of the top game developers in the world. League of Legends, VALORANT, Teamfight Tactics, Legends of Runeterra and League of Legends: Wild Rift all have Riot Games to thank for their existence. While the company has found massive success in first-person shooters, mobile games and MOBAs, there is one genre they have yet to attempt: a massively multiplayer online (MMO) game. Fans were excited when Riot Games announced an MMO based on the beloved Runeterra universe – but after recent announcements, the excitement has turned to fear. Let’s walk through how Riot Games is ‘resetting’ its upcoming MMO, and what fans can expect from here.

What was the planned Riot Games Runeterra MMO?

Riot Games surprised the gaming world just over two years ago after sneakily announcing their development of a Runeterra-focused MMO project. The game company’s followers originally caught wind of the plan through a job posting announcement titled “Yes, it’s true… We’re Making an MMO.” The webpage sought applicants experienced in Gameplay Engineering, Game Design, UX Design, Game Art and Game Production.

Developers and team members established that the MMO would occur in League of Legends’ beloved fictional world Runeterra. Riot Games fans were ecstatic at the possibility of entering an MMO setting inhabited by their favorite Champions and connected to their favorite game titles. The conversation about the project stalled for a while after its announcement, and followers began to wonder what exactly was happening behind the scenes.

What did Riot Games announce about the Runeterra MMO?

On March 20th, 2024, Riot Games co-founder Marc Merrill announced on that “after a lot of reflection and discussion, [the company has] decided to reset the direction of the project some time ago.” Merrill established that the game would still be in development before anything else. He continued to reveal that Riot Games had replaced the project’s Executive Producer and that the role’s previous occupant, Vijay Thakkar, would become the project’s Technical Director. 

league of legends

The new Executive Producer Fabrice Condominas has experience with EA Games and Bioware. Condominas’ bio describes him as a “gamer at heart, storyteller by profession.” Merrill explained in his statement that Riot Games had built ‘key components of the technical foundation’ to create the MMO and had completed significant work on the project in the past year, but that the project would be ‘going dark for a long time – likely several years.”

Why is development on the Runeterra MMO ‘going dark?’

The Runeterra MMO redirection comes after Riot Games’ recent mass layoffs removed over 11 percent of the company’s workforce. Many concept artists and League of Legends employees were severely affected. Technology companies have laid off workers left and right since the end of 2023 after over-hiring throughout 2020-2022. Riot Games detailed in its layoff announcement that it reconsidered which projects were sustainable and worth continual investment. While VALORANT and League of Legends will continue receiving support, smaller projects like Riot Forge indie games and less profitable projects like Legends of Runeterra – and likely the Runeterra MMO – are consequentially redirecting or halting entirely.

Marc Merrill’s statement also points out that creating an MMO that would live up to fans’ expectations in a world as rich and developed as Runeterra is incredibly difficult. The production team struggled to establish a unique concept unlike any other game in the Runeterra universe – as Merrill puts it, Riot Games “need[s] to do something that truly feels like a significant evolution of the genre.” Perfection takes time, and the team aims to deliver the best possible MMO experience.

What will happen to Riot Games’ MMO project in the future?

The Riot Games MMO will continue its development per Marc Merrill’s statement. However, the announcement points to the game taking years to complete. Going by precedent, Legends of Runeterra took almost a decade to develop, so the Runeterra MMO ‘going dark’ after already being in development for two years is not a good sign. In addition, Riot Games’ recent financial losses from League of Runeterra and Merrill’s statements about ‘evolving the genre’ of Runeterra lore in the MMO indicate potentially serious shifts in the game’s theme and content.

Merrill assured followers in his thread that “‘no news is good news’ as it means we’re hard at work, pouring our hearts and souls into making something that we hope you’ll love” – but only time will tell what the Riot Games MMO’s fate will be.

What do Riot Games fans think of the changes?

The Runeterra MMO news deeply disappointed many fans awaiting the project. Star League of Legends personality LS tweeted, “Just saw this and it actually elicited tears. Don’t even know proper words to say right now, just sadness.”

yorick league of legends

LS was not alone in his despair – user @34lego88 comically replied, “Can’t wait to be a grandpa by the time your game comes out!” However, others saw the merit in Riot Games’ decision. Many users commented that they were glad the game would arrive in higher quality when it finally hit their computers.

Like any project, the MMO’s ultimate success will depend upon its creativity and execution – as long as it makes it through development. Fans will just have to wait in anticipation as the fate of the Runeterra MMO hangs in the balance. Stay tuned for future updates on the project!