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Riot Games scores $8 million

Investors betting on Riot's "League of Legends" title selling online virtual goods

Financial trends and news by Chris Caceres
September 9, 2009
Short URL: http://vator.tv/n/a7b

The concept of buying and selling virtual goods across online gaming platforms is looking promising to investors.  
 
Today, Riot Games, which is developing a highly anticipated online game called League of Legends, has raised $8 million in financing from Benchmark Capital, Firstmark Capital, and the Chinese online services company Tencent.  The Culver City, Ca.-based startup has raised almost $20 million to date.

So what does this highly anticipated League of Legends title have to offer to the world?  Well it follows the style of World of Warcraft, a massive multiplayer online role playing game.  Basically, League of Legends will let users control a character through fantasy style worlds, allowing them to power up their characters through battles, etc.

 The key difference between League of Legends and World of Warcraft, is that League of Legends will be offered for free.  The company plans to make its money through the buying and selling of virtual goods.  So based on what I'm seeing in the style and look of the game, users will be able to purchase new weapons or armor for their characters.  

This free-to-play, yet buy virtual items business model is very popular in Asia, and starting to see success in the US.  Recently, Zynga's Farmville, a social game with a similar business model geared towards a younger demographic, although I know plenty of people my age who are currently playing it, has attracted 1 million new daily users a week, and has 30 million monthly active users.

The investment from China's Tencent comes as no surprise.  The online services company provides its services to more than 400 million users and says it is the largest digital goods company in China.  It sold over $700 million worth of virtual goods last quarter alone.

League of Legends is set to launch in the North America this fall and in China sometime in 2010.  

If Riot Games can prove to launch its title with as much replay value and engagement as seen in the cases of World of Warcraft, it's sure to see some success. 

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