Riot moves to shut down fan-made Chronoshift server

The move has sent ripples through the community.

Image via Riot Games

Fan-made content for games is a hotly contested issue within the gaming industry. League of Legends has become the latest title to be hit with such controversy surrounding the existence of a Chronoshift server that allowed players to access and play a “legacy server” for a 10-year-old version of the game.

Developed and available for free, the server was available to League players who wished to access a nostalgic version of the MOBA. The server was made by fans using source code that they claimed was available publicly via Riot’s Content Delivery Network (CDN).

But four days ago, a post was made to the r/pcgaming subreddit by one of the developers on the Chronoshift project. They said the team had been contacted by a representative of Riot Games’ security department, who asked the developers of the Chronoshift project to hand over the source code for the server and cease to run the server for public usage. 

The post included a link to the original email received by the Chronoshift development team, in which a Riot employee by the name of “Zed” told the team that “in the interest of keeping things brief, we need to talk” before inviting the team to communicate via Discord. Riot has since confirmed to PC Gamer that Zed is an employee of the company, although it was “disappointed with the tenor of the conversation” that took place via Discord. 

The original post also shows screengrabs of the conversation between a Chronoshift developer named Lord Lothendran and the Riot employee. In the conversation, Riot’s representative asked the Chronoshift team to “hand over the source of the website” and “all source code” for the project. Zed also further inquired into the management of workload for the project and “identifiable information” shared between developers. 

In a statement to PC Gamer, Riot confirmed that it contacted the Chronoshift team, saying that “our stance on projects such as Chronoshift is explicitly called out in section 3 of our legal guidelines.” This Riot representative went on to confirm that they have now “proceeded through more formal channels” with the request to hand over information regarding the server and website for Chronoshift. 

At time of writing, the Chronoshift website is unavailable, showing an error message that says connection to the site is not private. A copy of an official cease and desist letter sent by Riot to the Chronoshift team has been leaked, although the Chronoshift developers have said on Twitter that they were not responsible for the leak. 

It’s unconfirmed at this time if Riot will continue to pursue legal action regarding the server.

Chronoshift has since talked to Dot Esports to provide further information about the situation. Notably, the team clarified that the server was not yet available for public access and was in its closed beta phase when Riot made the move to shut it down. “Beside the first Reddit post a year ago announcing the project and looking for people interested in helping us test and develop, we made very little attempt to gain publicity,” according to the Chronoshift developers.

To address the concerns that they had “stolen” property from Riot, Chronoshift’s developers said “the game client for old versions of League of Legends is publicly available for download from Riot Games CDN this very minute.” They confirmed that none of the original textures, models, voice lines, or other Riot properties were “provided, distributed, or modified” by their development team in any way.

In their closing statement, a representative of the development team explained that they felt they had made “as much of a good-faith attempt to respect both the letter of the law and boundaries with Riot Games as is possible with a project like this.” They said that although they recognized Riot’s right to pursue a legal resolution to the dispute, they were “incredibly disappointed” with the company’s approach to handling the situation.

“The hope was on Riot to recognize the potential of something this difficult to recreate for a team this small, brought to life out of passion for a game over a decade old,” Chronoshift’s devs said. They made no comment on the current state of legal proceedings and ended their statement by thanking those who helped them in the testing and development of the server.

Update April 28 4:13pm CT: This article was updated with the statement provided to Dot Esports by the Chronoshift developers.

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