League of Legends is now a puzzle game
Tencent and Riot Games target younger gamers with Candy Crush-esque game and a cartoony style
League of Legends is finally on mobile. But it’s probably not in the way you hoped. Tencent released a League of Legends-themed match-3 puzzle game that has more in common with Candy Crush than the popular multiplayer online battle arena (MOBA) game on PC.
Without almost any marketing, Tencent quietly launched Fingertip Summoners, a mini game that runs within its flagship chat app and China’s largest social network, WeChat. With its more cartoony animation style, it’s a sign of how Tencent might be looking to use one of its best-known properties to target a younger audience.
Unlike the original League of Legends, Fingertip Summoners was developed by Tencent rather than its subsidiary Riot Games.
As a typical PvP RPG match-3 game, it selects another opponent for you to face online. In this game, though, you get to duke it out as a champion from League of Legends. To deal damage to your enemy, you must be better and faster than your opponent at solving match-3 puzzles.
Besides turning League of Legends into a puzzle game, the cartoony style presented in Fingertip Summoners is a stark departure for the property. It’s typically more associated with an edgier style that can be seen from virtual k-pop group K/DA based on Leagues of Legends characters.
So what does this mean for all you MOBA fans out there? Don’t worry, the future of League of Legends isn’t puzzle games. We know that Tencent and Riot Games are working on a mobile version of League of Legends, and it will stay in the MOBA genre.
But Fingertip Summoners gives Tencent a way to experiment with a known property and target a different demographic of gamers. League of Legends is a 10-year-old game and it’s facing new competition from the likes of Fortnite and Auto Chess.
The latter started as a mini game and spawned a new style of strategy games that’s turned into one of the hottest game genres of 2019. In light of this increased competition, Tencent may be looking for new ways of capitalizing on one of its most valuable properties.
League of Legends is still huge, but its popularity is declining. The game pulled in $1.4 billion in 2018, but that was down 21% from the previous year. But 24.7% of all core PC gamers in the world still play the game. One Newzoo analyst told Reuters that Riot Games “badly needs a new way to monetize the game.”
As a new means of monetization, Fingertip Summoner feels like quite a solid effort, even without being its own separate app. The match-3 puzzle game mechanic is inherently addictive, though. (Consider the fact that millions of people still play Candy Crush.) As another typical puzzle game, it’s hard to not have some fun playing the game, even when it feels meaningless.
But Fingertip Summoner has a surprising amount of intent behind it. That’s what makes the game effective. It does a good job of incorporating many of the beloved League of Legends characters and merging their skills and abilities with the match-3 puzzle game mechanic.
That said, this isn’t really an innovative game. RPG match-3 games are a dime a dozen these days. But if we had to have a League of Legends puzzle game, at least it’s a thoughtful one.