Riot plans to ‘double down’ in China, open new game development studio in Shanghai

China remains Riot's most prominent regional market in the PC gaming sector.

Photo via Riot Games

Riot Games is set to open a new game development studio in Shanghai, China. In Shanghai, the company will focus on developing its current titles, in addition to its planned works set to release in the future, according to an interview conducted by CNBC with Riot’s vice president and head of operations in China, Leo Lin.

“In China we have a lot of passionate players for League of Legends,” Lin said in his interview with CNBC. “So as a result, we would like to double down in China and continue to invest here including not only working on esports, but for example, game development and other things like entertainment.”

China remains one of Riot’s most prominent global markets. A strong portion of the League player base has emerged from the region since its launch in 2011. There are currently 325 million active PC gamers in China (about one in every four members of the Chinese population), according to a report from Asian gaming research firm Niko Partners, many of whom play League regularly. Riot’s other major PC title, VALORANT, has yet to see an official release in China.  

Riot also plans to develop its entertainment brand out of Shanghai, with a focus on its recent headfirst dive into the television sector. The studio’s upcoming animated series, Arcane, releases on Netflix later this year. 

In addition, Riot plans to expand its mobile gaming efforts in China. The company aims to release two of its latest titles, League of Legends: Wild Rift and Teamfight Tactics, on mobile platforms across China in the near future. 

“At Riot Games, we would like to focus on [mobile gaming] moving forward,” Lin said. “A lot of [our players] are playing on mobile. And Wild Rift is a big move we are taking, and it’s a big bet. Currently, we are very confident it’s a very good product for our players.”

No Chinese release date is set in stone for any Riot titles beyond League. But the company hopes that its new Shanghai development studio will help expedite the process of getting those games, and many more that happen to be in the pipeline as well, into the hands of players across the country. 

Additionally, the League World Championship, Riot’s most lucrative esports event, will be held in China later this year—just as it was in 2020—with Shanghai serving as one of the event’s host cities.  

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About the author

Michael Kelly

Staff Writer covering World of Warcraft and League of Legends, among others. Mike's been with Dot since 2020, and has been covering esports since 2018.