Arcane Solidifies Its Moment in Pop Culture

In October of 2019, Riot Games was celebrating the 10th anniversary of their game “League of Legends” and teased several new projects to be released in the coming years. First was a new first-person shooter (FPS) game, now known as Valorant, a game that would see massive success at launch and go on to win esports game of the year in 2021.

Next was a massively multiplayer online role-playing game (MMORPG) set in the same universe as their base game, and the excitement for this project has continued to grow in the years since. Finally, there was teaser for a Netflix show that would finally dive into the lore of the League of Legends universe. Fans and critics were skeptical as there have been many adaptations of video game franchises into various tv series and movies, but at the time it was rare to ever see them succeed. Even as the premiere edged closer and A-list celebrities like Hailee Steinfeld and Imagine Dragons were announced to be involved, some hesitation remained given the mounting expectations for the series.

Two years since that announcement, and 9 thrilling episodes later, Arcane has gone on to shatter every expectation levied on the series. IGN gave the show a 10/10 rating calling it “truly a masterpiece” and critic reviews from Rotten Tomatoes still sit at 100%, the best of any Netflix original series ever. The first six episodes topped Netflix in 37 different countries across the World. Within the gaming community, both casual players and industry veterans have praised the show for bringing to life characters that always deserved more. Riot Games is no stranger to making pop culture moments. In 2017, they shocked the esports world by landing a virtual reality dragon into a stadium in Beijing, China for the opening ceremony of the League of Legends World Championship Finals. In 2018, Riot created a virtual Kpop band that topped Billboard’s

World Digital Song Sales with both their initial hit of “Pop Stars” and follow up singles “The Baddest” and “More” in 2020.

Why then, does the success of Arcane feel even bigger? With prior standout moments for Riot, it always felt like a pinnacle where fans were left wondering how it could possibly get any better. Arcane feels like the floodgates opening to years of continuous content and backstory for characters that are still added into League of Legends on a quarterly basis. The potential feels limitless. There’s also the impact that this show could have on League’s player base in North America which is notably lower than games like Fortnite despite still being the largest esport. Play rates for characters shown in the series skyrocketed even prior to the final three episodes being released, so don’t expect that to slow down as Arcane possibly brings in a new generation of League of Legends players.

Arcane season 2 is already confirmed to be in production by Riot Games with a release planned for 2023 at the earliest. Going forward, expect the time between seasons and series to close as more resources are put into the TV productions side of the company.

Watching where this leads League of Legends in the future may end up being just as thrilling as the series itself. Only time will tell, but we can promise you this: we’ll be there for the ride.

Words by David Szajnuk

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