Not even Riot wants to try competing with Fortnite on user-generated content: 'I'm not gonna go pick that fight with Epic'

Credit: Riot Games

Riot has tried its hand at a lot of things to bring its already massively-popular MOBA League of Legends to a wider audience, from spinoff games to animated series and even some high-profile musical crossovers. But one area it's not interested in venturing into, for the core game at least, is the realm of user-generated content: UGC has been a massive boon for some games, but Riot doesn't see it as a good fit for League.

Riot's head of League Studio Andrei van Roon said in a recent Q&A session that while the studio might be interested in pursuing UGC in other projects, League of Legends itself isn't really built for that sort of thing.

"We feel a lot of what we've built on League, where we have strengths, what players are looking for, for us are are less about sort of building a UGC platform and more about building particular types of experience using these characters in a competitive or semi-competitive setting—playing to the strengths of MOBA, that action-strategy mix," van Roon said.

League of Legends game director Pu Liu echoed that sentiment, saying that user-generated content "is primarily a platform and technology play" that's already dominated by a small handful of games—Roblox, Fortnite, Minecraft—in what he described as "a fairly winner-take-all market."

"I think if I look at what Riot's strengths are and our competitive advantages, I'm not gonna go pick that fight with Epic," Liu said. "Maybe Andre, my boss, would tell me we should but I think it's a technology platform play and not one that we're likely to win."

Riot may be feeling a little pressure to "do something" with League of Legends. As Liu and van Roon noted in the same Q&A, League's core player base is getting older and fewer newcomers are joining up. That's in part because League is facing competition from games like Fortnite and Roblox that simply didn't exist when League hit its peak, a problem compounded by accessibility challenges inherent in being a 15-year-old game: It's a dense, heavy experience that tends to be dominated by people who have literally grown up with it, and putting it gently, that can be discouraging for newbies.

One thing Riot has in mind to help broaden its audience is ensuring it's as easy as possible to be aware of, and move between, its games. In late 2023, for instance, the studio added a Legends of Runeterra button to the League of Legends client, which van Roon said "felt like a good way—especially because we know that the MOBA and the strategy audiences overlap a lot—to serve both the existing League players who might want to play LoR and the LoR community looking for more players to come in."

It won't be a universal thing—van Roon said 2XKO, Riot's upcoming fighting game, "may not have that same sort of degree of audience overlap"—but the overarching goal is to "make sure we've got that really easy ecosystem flow going on."

"It's going to depend on the game" van Roon said. "But we certainly don't want to go and feel quite as 'off on a little island by itself' as Legends of Runeterra used to."