The moment fan backlash to Blizzard’s 2018 announcement of the mobile-only Diablo: Immortal despatched ripples throughout the business. The explanations and equity of the response apart, builders knew they wished to keep away from that end result in any respect prices. Riot Video games specifically paid consideration, and by utilizing what it discovered from Blizzard’s announcement, it went on to announce not one, however 4 ‘dangerous’ video games in 2019.
Ryan Rigney, Riot Video games’ communications lead for League of Legends, explained the company’s PR approach to the bulletins of Teamfight Ways, TFT Cell, League of Legends: Wild Rift, and the CCG Legends of Runeterra. Every sport on this stack introduced its personal communications challenges, and will simply have sparked a damaging response from followers.
It’s essential to get that preliminary reveal proper. Even when it’s unfair or based mostly on incomplete info, a damaging preliminary impression is hard to come back again from. It units off the continuing narrative in regards to the sport in a foul route, and one which publishers don’t have a lot energy to affect as soon as it’s established.
Rigney says Riot selected a number of distinct methods to attempt to maintain that from occurring with its 2019 bulletins. On this Twitter thread, he boils it down to 5 factors. The primary is ‘Own Your Bullshit,’ which Riot utilized to the rollout of Teamfight Tactics, a sport clearly based mostly on the favored Dota Auto Chess mod. In its announcement for TFT, Riot acknowledged this reality upfront.
“The answer right here was to be sincere and discuss TFT with gamers the identical method we had been speaking about it internally,” Rigney mentioned.
Riot additionally started utilizing the time period ‘autobattler‘ as a reputation for the brand new style, which was rapidly adopted throughout a number of platforms – together with, importantly, Twitch.
“The existence of the idea ‘autobattler’ gave us and others permission to play within the house,” Rigney explains.
One other essential, albeit dangerous, technique Riot adopted was ‘Lean into the Memes.’ This was probably fraught territory, as a result of the prevailing meme within the wake of the Diablo Immortal announcement was ‘Don’t you guys have telephones?’ Utilizing that meme might simply be interpreted as taking a mean-spirited shot at Blizzard.
Nonetheless, an artfully-crafted line on this announcement video for TFT Cell acknowledged the meme with out coming throughout as an inexpensive shot, and Rigney says it wound up being successful.
This concept was not tremendous fashionable internally at Riot. Everyone felt sorry for the harmless Blizzard dev who’d gotten caught within the crossfire, and no person wished to draw any of that warmth to themselves.
Nonetheless, we determined to announce TFT Cell this fashion: pic.twitter.com/2FKvZQzDO4
— Ryan Rigney (@RKRigney) January 4, 2020
Rigney particulars just a few different methods the Riot communications staff delivered to bear of their bulletins final 12 months, like ensuring the core viewers is at all times stunned and delighted by one thing, and by displaying off the love the builders themselves have for his or her merchandise by highlighting the lavish character animations in League of Legends: Wild Rift.
The throughline for these methods, it appears, is anticipating objections earlier than they come up, and by addressing them in a simple method that lets your viewers know that you just’re on the identical facet.