Riot Games shuts down effort to build a streaming rival to Twitch

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Tencent Holdings Ltd’s Riot Games unit cancelled plans to introduce a streaming platform that would have competed with Amazon Inc’s Twitch, Bloomberg has learned.

Riot’s Esports Network, nicknamed REN, was a web and mobile app where fans could watch and engage with Riot’s competitive games and professional players. The Los Angeles-based League Of Legends developer made the move as part of an overall restructuring where it cut 11% of staff, or 530 employees.

“We were testing some watch platform ideas but opted to cancel our initiative REN last week,” John Needham, president of esports at Riot Games, said in an emailed statement. Needham had previously described his ambition to reinvent esports broadcasting in a 2023 blog post, including his goal to develop a viewing platform “to sell digital goods and services directly to our fans through our broadcasts”, but the company hadn’t formally announced plans for the service.

Riot Games’ League Of Legends and Valorant are two of the most-viewed games on Twitch, where nearly 300,000 people are watching them at any given moment. REN would have added to the livestreaming experience by integrating Riot’s games, so that players could receive bonuses for watching or purchase in-game items. REN was in an internal testing phase before it was cancelled.

REN was the result of Riot Games’ 2021 acquisition of startup Kanga for an undisclosed sum. Kanga created online “fan hubs” for competitive gaming’s players and teams, including with videos, wagering and merchandise sales. Much of the team was reassigned within Riot, although both Riot’s esports and broadcasting technology units suffered job losses. – Bloomberg

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