Season 3, Episode 1

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This is a transcript of one episode of the Samsung Developers Podcast, hosted by and produced by Tony Morelan. All episodes of the podcast can be found at Buzzsprout. A listing of all podcast transcripts can be found here.


Host

Tony Morelan Senior Developer Evangelist, Samsung Developers

Instagram - Twitter - LinkedIn

Guest

Eric Krause, Riot Games League of Legends, Gaming, Galaxy Store

In this episode, not only do we talk about the beginnings of Riot Games and their award-winning mobile game, League of Legends, Wild Rift, but how Riot Games has grown to become more than just a gaming company.

Listen to this episode on Buzzsprout.

 

Topics Covered

  • Riot Games Beginning
  • League of Legends Franchise
  • Best of Galaxy Store Awards, Best Strategy Game
  • Wild Rift
  • Developing for Mobile
  • Publishing on Galaxy Store
  • Samsung Relationship
  • Game Development and Marketing
  • Wild Rift Music
  • eSports
  • Netflix Animated Series Arcane
  • Working at Riot Games
  • Diversity and Inclusion

Transcript

NOTE: Transcripts are provided by an automated service and reviewed by the Samsung Developers web team. Inaccuracies from the transcription process do occur, so please refer to the audio if you are in doubt about the transcript.

 

Tony Morelan 00:01

Hey, I'm Tony Morelan. And this is the Samsung Developers Podcast, where we chat with innovators using Samsung technologies, award winning app developers and designers, as well as insiders working on the latest Samsung tools. Welcome to season three, episode one. On today's show, I'm joined by Eric Krause, Global Head of Marketing for the League of Legends group at Riot Games. Not only do we chat about the latest success around wild rift, their award-winning mobile game for the League of Legends franchise, but also Riot Games unique process for game development, and how diversity and inclusion play an important part of Riots culture internally and within the gaming and entertainment communities. Well, yeah, and all of the music you'll hear in today's episode, it's from the wild rift soundtrack. Enjoy. Hey, Eric, I want to welcome you to the to the podcast.

Eric Krause 00:57

Thank you for having me. It's a pleasure.

Tony Morelan 01:00

Who is Eric Krause?

Eric Krause 01:04

Good question. My wife, I think is asking the same question. I am German. So by my accent, you might be like, where is he from? So I'm super passionate about gaming. You know, we're really trying to be part of, you know, making people feel better to be a gamer all around the world. But beyond that really love technology, talking about anything technology. So that's why I'm super excited to be here talking about, you know, partnership with Samsung, because Samsung is known for technology, but also loved cars. So I'm very stereotypical German that way, because I also really love football. And I mean, real football, not the American football thing.

Tony Morelan 01:40

No, I you know, I appreciate that they did bring the MLS to the US for all of the soccer fans here. But yeah, I can only imagine you're probably a big fan of the European leagues.

Eric Krause 01:51

Yes, I still wake up early in the morning and watch some of the games the good ones in Europe. still live? It's an addiction, maybe? I don't know. But it's a good one.

Tony Morelan 02:02

So what is the what is your team? What team do you follow?

Eric Krause 02:06

Being German, I have to go with a German team. So that's brucea, Dortmund. Right now a second plays unfortunately right behind Bayern Munich. But maybe this year, maybe we have a chance. I'm cheering on I'm going to sit there with my jersey on when they play. And I have a small figurine, that is like dressed up as a barista don't want a character. And depending on how they play, that the finger is allowed to look into the living room? Or if they badly have to turn around and then just stare the wall. It's kind of the you don't you didn't do well. So go into the

Tony Morelan 02:37

so what is the current state? Is he is he looking positive and into the into the future? Is he in a timeout?

Eric Krause 02:43

It just turned around? Actually, because two matches ago, they last had a turnaround but the last one they actually won. So it's allowed to look back into the living room. Yes.

Tony Morelan 02:54

Nice. So Riot Games, you are Global Head of Marketing for League of Legends. Tell me what exactly is that role?

Eric Krause 03:01

Yeah. So in that role? No, I have the pleasure of overseeing all the amazing teams that do all the crazy and awesome marketing work across Liga legends on PC, and Wildrose, which is the old version of Liga legends. And we've kind of created this as a group, because it's kind of the core of of League of Legends. And that's how people perceive it. And it's actually very similar in terms of what we're trying to promise to players, right in terms of, hey, if you play this type of game, this is what you will get out of this in the state Ultra competition I had. And that is kind of the whole purpose of that group to really defining you know, what does that competitive aspects of League of Legends look like? What does it mean to, you know, build a platform ecosystem that's built around celebrating mastery? Sure. But also, through League of Legends, a lot of people do get to know our characters, and our champions that they know and love. So we're also taking care of that, right, making sure that, you know, as they, as our fans, you know, have their champions that they really cheer on to give them as much love as possible for the champion that they love.

Tony Morelan 04:11

So, yeah, yeah, no, I know, it's a huge, huge community. How long have you been in that role at Riot Games?

Eric Krause 04:18

Fairly recently, actually, um, you know, I was, I was given that role last summer. And before that, I was actually leading up the marketing team that launched all draft, so Okay, from that roll into this new role that started to exist as of last summer. Got it.

Tony Morelan 04:38

And you've been at Riot Games for how long? for

Eric Krause 04:41

over five years, and it's so weird, because I always think of myself as somebody fairly new to riot. Sure. But when I now meet new rioters, they're like, oh, we've been there for five years. You're a veteran, and then myself, like, don't say that to me. That's not true. I feel like I just joined yesterday. But yeah, it's over five years.

Tony Morelan 05:02

Wow, no, but you are originally from Germany. So there has to be some sort of journey that's led you from your home country of Germany, to I understand you now live in Southern California.

Eric Krause 05:12

Yeah, right now I do live in sunny Los Angeles. And the passion for gaming eventually, you know, moved me over here. Because at the beginning, during college, I started to work for an agency that was working with EA back at the time. And through that I became a community manager being coming and kind of the phase and local go to person for various games and franchises that EA had in Central Europe. And eventually, through that work, EA was like, well, can't you just move over to the West Coast, because you're working with all these teams already. And you're, you're, you're flying over so many times, sure, just move, just come over. And I did that. And that was more than 10 years ago, at this point, our move to Los Angeles, and from there kept working for a couple more years, at EA working on things like Mass Effect, Command and Conquer and others, and moved on actually to a Korean company, also in gaming, which gave me a new side of learning about like free to play and life service operations, which obviously is a big part now of gaming. And then eventually, that led me to working at Riot which, as we said, it's more than five years ago, which crazy to say,

Tony Morelan 06:32

Wow, now riot got their start back in the in the 2000s. Correct?

Eric Krause 06:36

2006 Yeah, as a tiny, tiny startup just with a with an idea. And, and now it's like, it's so obvious, but back then it wasn't.

Tony Morelan 06:47

Yeah, cuz I know, back in the early 2000s, you know, when gaming really started, you know, becoming extremely popular gamers were kind of looked upon as this is just like this, this little hobby, and, you know, go spend your free time. But I mean, with eSports, it is just blown up over the years.

Eric Krause 07:05

Yeah, totally. And I can proudly say that we're part of that I have because we believe that and we actually spend ridiculous amounts of effort to really promote and build up the professional eSports circuit around Liga legends. And when we did that originally, which is also now more 10 years ago, people laughed up on us I had they're like, what is this? Like? This is not a sport, right? Like, it's just four people in the basement. I had like, doing these things. And now we look at it. And you're like, yeah, if we look at our world championship I had has more viewers than most sporting events that Americans know and love, like NBA Finals, we have more viewers in the NBA Finals, right? That's so easy. It has come a long, long way since then.

Tony Morelan 07:51

So League of Legends, they got their start around 2009. Set, right, the first

Eric Krause 07:57

version of the game came out 2009. Because over the years, it has changed drastically. For the better. If you look at clips of the original League legends in 2009, it's pretty rough. But again, it was 2009. You know, that's the beauty of life services, and also being really player focused, right, is that the game has come a long way. Not because you know, we necessarily had the most grandest vision for it. But because once you put something out there, your players will tell you, well, we like this, we don't like that. And we just kept listening. And that's kind of our thing. And we'll keep listening and evolve the game, you know, based on how our players really think, you know, what they believe is best

Tony Morelan 08:40

League of Legends has become a franchise. And I know there's a whole bunch of games that have come out of that talk a bit about some of those individual League of Legend games,

Eric Krause 08:49

for talking about the games, but and how they've been talking about the ecosystem behind it. I think it's important to understand why because most of the time, like yeah, just you know, making more games cool, you're making more money, right? That's, that's the traditional answer, if successful, if he just makes more of it. For us, it's a little bit different. Because what motivates us really, is to create that ecosystem that allows people to express fandom very differently, okay, because right now, you know, as we all human beings, we all have different ways and how we play, right how we consume entertainment. So we want it to be built something a large ecosystem that people can be really proud of, because it's not just forcing them to play one game to remain to be a fan of this thing that they might have started playing a 10 years ago. But now they all these other different ways that depending on how their life changes, how they interest changes, how the new friends might play, different things are sure want to be entertainment and things. We want to build them an ecosystem that it can be proud of. And that's how we started to be like, okay, part of that is not only to make music and TV shows and what That's also making more games, right. And through that lens, we actually announced a bunch of them doing a 10th year anniversary of League of Legends, which was a big surprise for people and a good surprise. And there, we announced a bunch of games ranging from like legends from Terra, which is, you know, a card game that we made digital card game, then also TFT team fight tactics, which is this auto bed law genre, which is a new upcoming one, which is really kind of chess meets, you know, game strategy put on top of it. It's really, really weird one, but if you really lost strategy, like that, one is for you. But we also announced brand new things through the lens of, you know, working with indie companies to really make games that are go really deep into very specific area that Riot probably wouldn't make through our riot forged label. And those have been received pretty phenomenal as well. And last but not least, we also announced our first new IP, which is valorant, which we've launched now, as well, which is right now, first person, tactical shooter,

Tony Morelan 11:06

it's really interesting. So you've got this franchise, and you found all these different ways for different types of personalities to in to engage in the game. So you know, from Runeterra, being that that collective card game, it's similar to something like magic the gathering, but in a digital format. And then what I'd love to hear about is how, you know, you're looking at the mobile space, creating a game to be played on mobile devices. And that's where Samson kind of comes into play with the game wild riff. So I love seeing how you've taken this, this single game League of Legends and turned it into a franchise to really expand the community and in the different ways that people can play and interact.

Eric Krause 11:43

Part of it. As we think about all these new games has been mobile, I'm actually pretty committed to mobile, because I'd Wildwood is one that is built natively for mobile, which was one of the really big challenges for us. But also, as we thought about some of our other games, like legends of Runeterra, team fight tactics, they all have a mobile component of it, too. So you can actually play it on a mobile phone as well. Because that's where, right if you think about trying to give players what they want, if you think about even today, right, the way people consume entertainment, which I include gaming in, has changed drastically. In the earlier days, people have really made dedicated time for it, either, like, I'm going to be on a PC, Thursday night for four hours, you know, I'm going to meet up with all my friends, you know, online, and then we'll just play or spend time on a couch or, you know, really make a block available, where I can just watch movies and whatnot. But now, it really changed right now, you know that the trend that we're seeing that we're trying to lean into is, you know, people just whenever live gives them a small sliver of time. Yeah, in that moment, no matter what the situation is, people want to have the highest quality form of entertainment available to them. No matter if it's on PC, tablet, TV, mobile phone, right, truly, wherever it is. And that change pushes us as game developers to adopt, and this case to really embrace mobile AI, because it's not just about that trend. It's also for a lot of people mobile is kind of the first and maybe only gaming platform they ever own. Yeah, so for us, it's also so important because they're all these hundreds of millions of people all around the world, that define who they are, as a gamer through the lens of a mobile phone. And we want to be there because we want to show them what it could look like to be a gamer through the lens of riot, because we really want to make sure that they get the best possible experience. And that's why we've started to embrace mobile. And this took as a really long time, arguably too long. Because it's paired with other beliefs that we have, that we really want to deliver the highest quality form of entertainment. And mobile took us a while to get there. At the beginning, it was like the technology wasn't really there for us to have the capabilities to create these deep and engaging experiences. Because we didn't just want to use rip and you know, put something on a phone that when people look at me like right, what you put on a phone has nothing to do with the game or the IP I know and love over here. So where’s that game? Like the gameplay that made that PC game so special? We wanted to make sure that when people pick it up, and they're like, hey, this is a League of Legends game that the mechanics to the quality that they can be like proudly say yes, yeah, this is a League of Legends game. So it took us a little bit longer to get there. But now it's definitely part of how we think about the entertainment world right that mobile is a big part and arguably more growing part compared to PC and console.

Tony Morelan 14:50

So last year, Riot Games won a Best of Galaxy store Award Best strategy game for League of Legends wild rift, tell me what did it mean to win that award?

Eric Krause 15:01

People can see it right now. I'm still smiling. Just kidding about it, because it's so awesome. To see. I called validation. I because you can say all day long, right? That, hey, we're trying to, you know, really build the best things possible on a device on a platform to make players proud. But it's really hard sometimes to quantify that right, as hundreds and hundreds of people are working on this day in day out. So when do you know that you're probably on the right track? And one part is, obviously, players will tell you if they're happy or not. Yeah, but the other one is also, you know, recognition by the industry. And that's why this actually means so much to us, as a team that is working on the game. Because it is that signal, I would like, hey, you know, Samsung Galaxy said, you know, this is one of the best games of the year. And that makes us proud. And that's why we should not only share that with, obviously, our fans, to make sure that they're like, hey, you know, we won this. Thank you guys, all out there. Yeah, to make it ultimately happen. Because without players, we wouldn't do these things. But there's also now a very important part of, you know, how we think about the game and trying to recruit people. Because it's also the thing I'd like, as we all recruit for talent, I have so many choices. Of course, using it like, hey, this is an award-winning team definitely helps riot as well as a company to get more super awesome talent and to make even better experiences down the road. So it's a very important thing for us. Yeah,

Tony Morelan 16:33

I know, I've done a lot of these interviews with past winners. This is the first time that I've heard that a company actually uses that award is a way to entice and encourage, you know, talent to come their way. So while Griff is fairly new, when was it actually released,

Eric Krause 16:50

Radware was released or started to release in fall 2020. And as they started to, because what we did is we launched in multiple waves, we started in fall 2020. Launching in Southeast Asia. And slowly over the course of time, up to our more recent launch in China, we just did a wave by wave and start to expand the availability of wildlife globally.

Tony Morelan 17:17

What's the what's the reason behind that sort of rolling release?

Eric Krause 17:21

It was more of a technical nature, trying to because you find the balance right between when is everything totally ready for a global launch? Versus when we have something we believe in? How fast can we deliver player value? Yeah. So finding a balance, sometimes it's this inner pole between you because one side I really wanted, like, don't do it, don't do it. Other than that, go push it out, push it out, of course. So we decided to do that way to really, you know, get more player feedback along the way earlier, but also still give them experience in the earliest stages of the rollout that we still believe then being a good experience for them.

Tony Morelan 17:59

Got it. So it's almost like doing a beta release for software? Pretty much. Yes. So you know, knowing that League of Legends was extremely popular on PC, and then you decided to come up with this mobile version. Wild rift, tell me about what is the process for building a mobile version game?

Eric Krause 18:16

It was a long one. You know, we spent several years trying to figure it out, really. And what it led to was rebuild everything. Because the first instinct, right, when you have something that is working on PC is all let's just see what we can port over. Right? And, sure, we tried, but it didn't feel right. When we want to be on a platform, right? When we want to put a name on one of our games, we want to proudly say that this is the best we can do. It. It's that's the best possible experience you can have. Right? And but just porting it, that didn't feel right, because a PC game wasn't made for the different screen. So we decided we need to rebuild everything, using a different engine, you know, rebuilding all the art assets. Because when we started that approach, that's when it started to really click in terms of making use of the capabilities that a phone has, and also making sure that it just feels right, because now the thing is with the touchscreen, right? You can almost feel your champions. And I obviously say that in a crazy way. But if you just think about right like now you drag like an ability of a champion really on the screen, you see exactly what the tell the champion reacts to it. It's almost some degree more direct the interaction with your champion, so it needed to feel super crisp. So we decided to rebuild everything. But it also gave us the opportunity to touch up a few areas of the game that you know, as you can imagine, at that point, you know, the game being more than 10 years old on PC that didn't hold up, you know, as well over the course of time. So we actually started to rebuild a bunch of things to even like in terms of what champions look like, visually, to get them kind of on par with a modern for 21st century, it was kind of an opportunity as well and for us.

Tony Morelan 20:11

Yeah, no, you know, we are really proud and excited that you guys decided to bring your game over to the galaxy store. Tell me Are there any unique aspects or optimizations to the to the game that fans download from Galaxy store?

Eric Krause 20:24

Yes, I'm not going to voice with the technical details. But at the end of it all, is we wanted to make sure that no matter if you have a high end, Samsung phone, or if you have, you know, a more entry level one that the game really gets the most out of the phone is that you get the smoothest possible experience. And that require actually really working with Samsung, they were super open for him to really work with us and help on optimizing the engine, but also working with us on some new SDK functionality that really allowed to make sure that the fight between terminals, like how much heat is being generated on one end, but also, how much power do we really put into all the components like CPU GPU, that we always find the right balance, that no matter, you know, how heated the fight is that your phone doesn't overheat, yet still gives you the smoothest experience, and been working endlessly for a couple of years, you know, with everybody at Samsung, and we believe, you know, we achieved what we wanted to achieve, which is really giving you the best possible game experience on a Galaxy device.

Tony Morelan 21:37

Yeah, and knowing that, you know, we have so many different form factors with our traditional phone, as well as the Z fold, and the Z flip, all of which can be used to play wildlife. Correct?

Eric Krause 21:48

Actually, in fact, I do play wild rifts on my phone.

Tony Morelan 21:52

That's great. So tell me about this relationship with Samsung. How did that first start?

Eric Krause 21:58

It's fun. Sorry, because you know, Samsung and right, we're thinking very similarly, about the space. And that is really, how can we provide the best possible entertainment experience on the go? I had that is true for Samsung, right through their products. But it's also true for Riot with our games and software. So through that those early conversations, we pretty quickly identify like, it's pretty obvious for us to work together on this site. And from there, it was all history, I had started to partner and really figuring out the ways on, you know what that means for us as two companies collaborating with the sole purpose of giving gamers the best possible experience on a mobile device. And that partnerships now ongoing for like, last two, three years.

Tony Morelan 22:47

Yeah, that's one thing I do love, you know, working at Samsung, they really do push that the partnership side of things. I mean, I made myself totally available to the community when it comes to my areas of expertise at Samsung. And they've really pushed out with a lot of the people here. So it's not just that, you know, we're a platform for you to deliver your content. But we want to work with you to make the experience truthfully better for all those that are using our devices in your content. So with wild Ruth being such a new game, I'm sure it is extremely important and challenging to do that, that initial marketing, to promote your game. So tell me about some of the tools and techniques that you guys are doing to help let the community know that hey, there is wild riff, and it's time for you to play.

Eric Krause 23:28

Yeah, absolutely. Um, so in today's world, but when you think about it, you know, you have to really be where players are, you can't be as selective anymore as you might want it to be 1015 20 years ago, and that really is the guiding thing for us when we thought about, you know, marketing the game and you know, celebrating the launch of it. And specifically being a mobile game. What does it mean being where players are for us that was, you know, heavy emphasis on social media, on content creators, and just general video platforms, because that is the core circle of you know, how people on mobile phones consume content these days. So that was a very big investment of ours, to really lean into that, you know, and work with the right parties. But the other thing that's exciting is when you think about mobile is, you know, the capabilities that it brings that you weren't really able to do on a PC, even when it comes to marketing. What I mean by that is like, Guys, a great example is, you know, using AR and VR technology, you know, on a mobile phone, it's actually pretty straightforward. So we played with a bunch actually made microsites for events and launch events. We turned them into three dimensional things you can actually walk around in and up there. We did 180-degree videos so as you watched it depending on you know, what you were looking you saw a different thing of the scenery and of the story being told that video, and all these fun things I did you can start doing and creatively unlock if you embrace mobile as a platform, not only what the game is app, but also how people consume content, right? And then the other aspect being a mobile game specifically as it sounds, it's mobile, right? It's on the go deck will have it everywhere, even real life. So for us, it was also important component to figure out what, how can we promote it, where people are out there when they use a phone, right, so not just being on the phone, but in the actual real-world context. So obviously, with the COVID, 19 situation happening was a little more tricky for us to do so. But we still were able to find, you know, arguably great and yet safe ways to do that in the real world. Like, for example, in Southeast Asia, in some markets is all about food, right? Like people love food there, they'll go to street vendors, you know, just grab something and even make it a social hangout space, I will just meet around a food cart. Sure, we really leaned into that aspect in Southeast Asia and actually created a campaign that celebrated some of the fruit that you find in the game on the map, brought it to real life actually created something that looked like it but felt very specifically, I guess, different, sure, and created an activation around it. And we're really proud of that one. Because again, not only were we able to pull off, despite all the constraints around us. But it also was more recently recognized, winning a grand Clio, for one of the best marketing experiences over the last couple

Tony Morelan 26:26

of years. Wow, that's exciting. And for those that don't know, the Clio awards are basically the Oscars when it comes to marketing and design. So and I understand you also did something pretty creative with YouTube, as far as an event, so yes,

Eric Krause 26:41

we also did something, YouTube, which we also want to clear for. And that was really the concept of while people are waiting to play the game, because we're doing it in rollout stages, like one wave after the other. What can we give people in a cool interactive form, to kind of experience the game without playing it. And wanting to come to mind is as part of the game key objective, and the game is bare Nasher, which is this massive, giant warm thingy, that that you can slain as a team. And we made a game on YouTube, about that experience. But it was kind of an all versus one kind of experience. We're all players watching the stream had to come together, and actually work together to in this case, slay and bear Nowshera through various inputs that they could give through chat. And whatever the chat inputs were that the community decided something would happen on the screen, in terms of fighting him with a specific attack called different champions and for help heal yourself and things like that. So it's kind of a massive, interactive game, that that people play it. And it was really cool. To kind of again, test the waters with what's possible, with all the platforms out there.

Tony Morelan 27:59

Wow, what a great and super creative way to truthfully build a community to, you know, act as one. So all total to date, how many downloads? How many users would you say I've played while drift?

Eric Krause 28:11

It's hard to say, but it's definitely high up there to 10s of millions. But I think the best number that describes you know, when we think about League of Legends, you know how big it is, is a number we just recently announced. And that was for the end of last year, we had 180 million people in a given month, play, you know, a League of Legends game. Wow. And the majority of that is driven by wild drift. Actually, I have because, you know, people were waiting for having finally a mobile part of this ecosystem available to them. And that that is really, you know, the promise that we delivered upon, giving them something that they could proudly call Legal Legends is now you know, available on a mobile phone, because it is League of Legends, it is the core game. And people pay that back to us by coming, downloading and playing the game. And we're really proud that we were able to expand the ecosystem for our players the way we did.

Tony Morelan 29:15

That's amazing. And that is that is huge, especially for a franchise that just shows the longevity of the of the brand, after all these years to still be creating new experiences for the community and seeing the community grow that big.

Eric Krause 29:28

It's the proof point that the product lifecycle curves that they teach people during the MBA is that they can be defied if you just really have a customer focus,

Tony Morelan 29:38

but how do you guys come up with your ideas for games? The beauty

Eric Krause 29:41

of making video games is really, if you can dream it up, you can make it sure and so that really the creativity in your mind is kind of the limiting factor here. And because of that inspiration can truly come from anywhere for making a game and finding like what What's fun about different experience, being it reading a book, you know, watching just our fans talk on YouTube about something, right, playing a board game, or just generally just sitting there in a rocking chair. And you know, thinking about, like, what could be better in the world, you know, truly, ideas can come from anywhere. And that's the exciting thing about gaming as a medium, because it's like creating these things that are interactive, for people to then explore themselves and be surprised and delighted by and because of that, you know, an all push for finding new ways to give players what they would want. And that is that more robust ecosystem, we now have invested into a pretty robust pipeline of r&d games. So that visit different genres, to really make sure that one day we can give as many players as possible, kind of the ecosystem that they deserve.

Tony Morelan 30:54

I love what you said about if you can dream it, you can make it a game. And that's true, because I remember the first time I picked up Cards Against Humanity, absolutely love playing the game. And as soon as I was done at a notepad, I'm like, okay, how can I make my version of Cards Against Humanity, it just was so simple. But so, so much fun. And that was true. You know, for many years, I've often come up with ideas for, you know, game boards, or collectible, you know, items even going so far to pitch some of these ideas. None of them worked out. I ended up deciding to go into tech. But yeah, I love what you said that if you can dream it, you can make it.

Eric Krause 31:33

Yeah. And that's the thing I had, it's like it all, it doesn't have to always work out, right? Even was trying to see if there's something there. With your idea as crazy that might be sure there's a high chance it will not work out. That's the same for us in our r&d pipeline. And just because we're starting to invest into a game, it doesn't mean that we're going to make it. IBM has a high chance that as we go down that rabbit hole, and we're like, yeah, we weren't really able to find the fun or like, yeah, I don't really know how to make that game. It just possibility I. So there are a bunch of things that are being canceled internally or put on a shelf. But the things that you learn from it, probably inspire something else. And that's something else might become the next big thing. It might change humanity forever. Beyond. Yeah. Because a lot of the things that we now take for granted in all worlds, sometimes were accidents, I will people will actually try to invent or find a different solution to different problem. And then as a side product, they invented x, right? Yes. And that is what's always keep trying.

Tony Morelan 32:41

So when it comes to like developing a game and pitching that, that that concept I can imagine it must be a little bit like actually pitching a movie. I mean, with storyboards, storylines, characters, I mean, games have become so involved that that's how I think it would be but tell me, is it? Is it anything like, you know, pitching an idea for a movie?

Eric Krause 33:01

It's, Tony, it's definitely a process. Because a lot of people think about making games, just pay a bunch of people get together and just make a thing, and then they release it right. And sure, that could be a way but probably will not give anybody the results they're looking for. And players probably would look at me like, what is the scam? Is it's not fun, it doesn't feel right. So that's why it's really going through that process of multiple stages that kind of really stack on top of each other in a sequential, right, because we want to make sure that first, the core idea of what makes that game fun, potentially, is really thought out. I've really thought and it goes through the process and figure out like, hey, do we believe that this will be true? Then it kind of when that is happening goes to the next stage of like, can we actually make that game before even really making the game? Because that's the other thing. You might dream up this crazy idea, but nobody has an idea how to actually make it clear. And that will also be problematic. So that's really about focusing on all the kinks I'd like So what would an animated character look like? And feel like? How much work? Is it actually to make it or whatever it is like, what would this open world feel like? And what's the visual quality target? We're aiming for all these things, trying to figure out these answers to all these questions to before the game actually goes into full production. That's when you actually make the game. And again, it seems a little counterintuitive, right? Because people like well, why waste all the time at the beginning. But it's really part of the process for us to make sure that when we release a game as Riot, that players can be proud of it. Yeah, when they pick it up. It doesn't just feel awesome. But it really changes and provides value to their lives, right. As a gamer. We want to have that high borns high bar. That's why not every game will make it to that pipeline. It's okay. Everybody knows that. But that's really important aspects of it.

Tony Morelan 34:55

So how long would you say it takes to go from concept to actually a published game?

Eric Krause 35:00

It's really depends on, you know, the genre, the type of game, the scene, the scope of it, either you can see games that are actually done in two years. But you can also find games that will take five years plus, I had to go through that pipeline. So it's really variable based on kind of the project.

Tony Morelan 35:18

And that is quite an investment, you know, to have to forecast out like, hey, this is we're not going to see a return on this for another three to five years. That just shows you the commitment that Riot has.

Eric Krause 35:29

Well, I think we're right, it's not it's not even that it's not that we're thinking about, hey, you know, what's, what's the investment for just putting a game through r&d? Because the philosophy of riot, it's about that long term value to the player ecosystem? Sure. That that is kind of our very first way of thinking about it. So rather than thinking for us, it's like, okay, it doesn't take two or five years to put it through, it's more like, once it's out, can this be a 10 plus your game that really pushes the genre forward, that really changes the game exchange that really adds to our ecosystem in a long term way, and provides value through that. That's how we think about it. And that makes it a little bit different in terms of sure how we approach games. But again, that that's how the whole belief of the company is built around that. And it actually makes for in our eyes for better outcomes for players.

Tony Morelan 36:22

Sure, sure. You know, there's a lot of competition out there with the with gaming, what has been your your strategy for discoverability?

Eric Krause 36:31

It is, obviously, you know, people have choice. There's no way around that. But there are a couple of things that that we try to do a really put our flag down in terms of making sure that players actively seek out Riot Games, because obviously, there's the obvious answer of like, Hey, you spent all this money on media on user acquisition, right? I mean, that's a fair way of doing it. And riot is participating in that way right of pushing discoverability. But there's also the other aspect, right? If you do create an environment that people cherish, I've been through a super recognizable IP that has stepped or through really providing highest quality entertainment options available, no matter the platform, all of a sudden, you get players that want to play your games. Yeah, I had that actively, you know, looking for the next strike game, not only for themselves, but even to the degree to talking to the friends about it. And that is kind of the other part to us, either. Naturally, probably the leading thing, actually, for us to really invest into these high quality, IP driven ecosystems, that gives players the best experience and then through that kind of grow from the inside out. What were people who are in within the ecosystem are happy to go out to their friends, you're like, hey, this is an amazing game, you should play it with me. And that is the two components for us. But as I said, the latter one being the more focus piece of

Tony Morelan 38:01

it. Yeah. And I think in another way, it's also evident how you don't have to pay to play that there is an opportunity for people who just want to pick it up and, and have a little fun with it. But yeah, obviously, you know, you can generate revenue through wild rift. So what has been your strategy for generating revenue?

Eric Krause 38:20

All goes back to when it comes to how do we make money because yes, we do have to make money one way or the other. Because our philosophy is we want money to reinvest back into the ecosystem. Sure. For us, we don't want to just do it in a way that feels bad. That's like a big thing. Like, if somebody gives us money, we want a player to feel good about it, because they got great value. And that means we don't want to partake in some of the more predatory monetization models that exist out there. So as gamers, for example, you know, you hated when there are these energy systems that limit the amount of time you can actually play a game, or you have to like refill your energy or whatever to, you know, play another match or something like that. We don't do any of that. We don't want to limit how many times you can play. We also don't want to sell anything that give somebody an unfair advantage in terms of making them stronger, or having all of a sudden different abilities that you don't have access to. So it's really about, you know, allowing people to monetize to do by things that are more appearance based, more vanity based. Because that way it's about them deepening their almost relationship with their favorite champion with a favorite character. And that doesn't have really any impact on somebody else playing with them in the sense of being unfair, but instead gives, you know our players actually more diversity for the champion that they already No love, and more different appeal, and almost celebrating it with them that they have gone so deep, you know, with the champions. And that's really the majority of, you know, for us and how we think about monetization. Yeah. And that is really the focus for us.

Tony Morelan 40:16

Now, you know, the user experience on mobile is different than it is on PC. What were some of the challenges that you guys face when, when it came to designing a mobile game?

Eric Krause 40:26

It's, it's very different, right? That's why we really, really had to rebuild it in terms of design as you have a smaller screen, sure, but also completely very different input mechanics and how you steer, I had a champion. So really rethinking all of that was a really big part of the prototyping phase of the game, to redo even some of the champion mechanics to better fit the, you know, mobile environment, to again, really make the best out of it. Or another great example, for the design experiences, you know, average game on PC is probably 30 minutes to play League of Legends. But nobody wants to spend 30 minutes, you know, into a heated match on a phone, actually, for people that think about phone more so is like, more bite sized experience that they can have on? Sure. So that was a big thing. For us. It's also well, from a design perspective, it's like, oh, how do we bring it down to let's say, 15 minutes I to make it more bite sized, without losing the core experience that people know and love from PC. So that was like, as an example for, you know, how we thought about the design problems to solve going to mobile, but again, to really make use of mobile, not just a software for the sake of it, but to really leverage, you know, what mobile is giving you then when it comes to publishing is also very different. We self-publish, you know, the game, on PC. And that obviously, is only means that, you know, we use our own tools, everything. Sure. But if you think about mobile, and we work with great partners like Samsung, I had to get the game out to make sure that people have a great convenient and safe environment to get the game from. So there, it's actually for us learning all the ins and outs of the tools and the capabilities. And even working, you know, with Samson to figure out if there's any functionality that might be missing, that would be cool to make it even better experience for players. So that was actually also a big switch for us, that we had to learn and really invest into to teach ourselves what that looks like. Sure. And then also the marketing aspects of it all as well. You can't just copy whatever you're doing on PC from a marketing front and just call it day I like yeah, we did it cool. Because it's not only the way again, people consume media slightly different. But as far as I can go back to opportunity, because people might notice that, you know, the game is actually called League of Legends wall drift. It's not just called league of legends or League of Legends. It also looks slightly different feels slightly different. And that was purpose. Because as we think about wild rifts within the ecosystem that we've built, while two of more so is kind of to inspire the next generation of legal Legends fans. So what does that mean, for us, as we, as people consider playing us or not? Yeah, are the changes that we should be making to be more appealing? And that's what we did. Because also the game is slightly different in some detail mechanics, we didn't want to mislead our core fans as well, but completely saying hey, they exactly the same because they're not core fans will immediately be like, hey, this ability, Eric, that's that one is different. So don't call this exactly collections, because, you know, that's slightly off. And that's, that's, that's awesome, because our fans are as dedicated. So we also didn't want to mislead them hence, also part of the marketing experience being slightly different be like I know, this is League of Legends while drift, which still totally deserving of the name League of Legends. Because yeah, it is that core experience, but it's still slightly enough different to give it that different tone.

Tony Morelan 44:01

Yeah. Now, you know, one of the things that stood out for me when I first played the game, was the music. I mean, it was extremely cinematic. So tell me a little bit about the music of League of Legends wild rift.

Eric Krause 44:13

Yeah. It's so interesting what music can do to an overall experience. I remember, I had to play test at some point. And it wasn't a music. It was like a bug. It was like, pre before release. And it was so interesting to me because it felt so wrong. But initially, I couldn't pinpoint what's wrong with it, because I actively didn't notice that the music was missing. But it really felt I was like, what's going on? Is this This doesn't feel right. And then eventually, we were like, oh, yeah, the music is not playing any of this. I'm like, ah, yeah, that and that now I feel it. I And that's the thing. It's, you know, most of the time people don't really think actively about music, yet. It plays such a big part to connect you better to the experience. You're having to How can music be part of that emotional connection to what you're doing. So it's not just some fireworks going off on the screen. But that also that you feel that if something is on the line, the music should help tell you that at least subconsciously like, hey, something's on the line. But the same, so it's like, if you go back to, you know, your home base, your fountain in the game, the music policy tell you like, hey, take a breather, right? It's okay, like, this is a safe space. And that's really how to think about music. I'd like making that like a way to connect better with the experience, even though people don't actively notice.

Tony Morelan 45:35

And all of the music that you're hearing in today's podcast, is from the League of Legends wildlife soundtrack. So now that you've worked with Samsung, so closely on bringing your game to the galaxy store, what advice can you give developers that would like to do the same? Yeah,

Eric Krause 45:51

I mean, being on mobile, for me is about reaching massive audiences, massive audiences that use their phone to really define who they are as a gamer. And when you think about it that way, Samsung is a massive part of it, I had, it's one of the largest phone manufacturers in the world dedicated to creating the best possible experience on the go. And that lens, kind of, at least for me, thinks about as like, and it's a no brainer, I had to be on the Galaxy store, especially, you know, as we found out through our experience, that the extra work required to do so it's actually very minimal. So it's a great value add, add to reaching, you know, more players, and eventually more fans of your products, through again, a lens of quality and pushing experience forward. So I guess the short answer is just do it.

Tony Morelan 46:51

Wonderful. That's great. So tell me what is in the future for Riot Games.

Eric Krause 46:57

Our CEO, Nicolo, he just recently actually shared a blog post about that on riot games.com That kind of spilled the beans a little bit of our next five plus year journey that we're taking on as Riot Games. And because for us, it's really about that expansion of the ecosystem. And how can we, again, make it better to be a player? How can we find better ways for people to express fandom? How can we give them more experiences, beyond the ones that we've already provided to give them a more diverse way of interacting with Riot Games, League of Legends, IP, or maybe even new IPs, and says long blog posts, it talks about all these things in detail. But that's kind of really what you can expect for us to keep chasing, you know, our players and then needs that will see us invest in our existing games, but also many new ones across many new genres. We will really push eSports further beyond our games, because we believe that esports is just an integral part of the entertainment environment in the future I had. So we'll try to innovate and push forward there. But also explore different mediums. I mean, we've just done it with Arcane, that released on Netflix, just several months ago, but expect us to do more things that are not just games. Again, the pursuit of providing super rich ecosystem that people can be proud of as a fan.

Tony Morelan 48:27

Yeah, so arcane is the this new animated series on Netflix. I actually watched a little bit of it, it is hauntingly beautiful. Tell it tell us a little bit about that.

Eric Krause 48:36

You might think about like why is riot making a TV show? Right? Again, it goes back to you know not everybody has time to play games all the time. Yet, they're still a fan of thing that that you made many, maybe many years ago. So how can we give them like a connection to their fandom back without telling them Hey, play this new game or play this old game. And that's where it is really about entering different mediums that have different accessibility bars Miss case TV. So for us though, and through that lens was very important to make arcane as kind of that first statement Nardone to expand the universe really beyond just games for people to think about the League of Legends, IP and ecosystem as kind of this multimedia experience that you know, crosses all these different mediums. And this was the first kind of statement that we made. And it goes really into the story of some of our most beloved champions and their background. But there was also made in a way that if you are a fan of League of Legends, and you couldn't really convince others why you're so crazy about legal legends that you could give them that show. I'd be like, hey, let's watch it together. It In an attempt for you to explain, hey, this is why League of Legends is awesome, because you can watch it without any context of the League of Legends World. Sure. And that was also important to us to give our fans kind of an invitation that they could send to their friends and loved ones to be like, hey, you want to share my passion? He has a different way, how we can do that?

Tony Morelan 50:21

Yeah, so it really is obvious that Riot Games has become an entertainment company, not just a gaming company. How big how many employees work for Riot Games.

Eric Krause 50:34

At this point, we're well past 3000. And still growing quickly. Because as you can imagine, right, it's creating all these dreams. Making them try to reality for our fans, you know, is requires a lot of people. And, you know, we're not shy of investing into those impossible dreams come true across all of our offices, right? It's not just you know, here in LA. I know, we have offices all around the world. And as part of our next evolution of riot, you know, we've seen more offices and games being made all around the world, and experiences being made all around the world. It's really, you know, also capitalize on, you know, there's not just one type of gamer, depending on where you go around the world. What means to be a gamer also does look and feel different. So that is also something that we have to really think about, as we expand into, you know, the future of what Riot can look like.

Tony Morelan 51:33

Yeah, so people listening to the podcast if they're interested in working for Riot Games. So what's the best way for them to learn about how to apply for a position at Riot Games?

Eric Krause 51:43

Yeah, I mean, you can find us on almost all the networks you can think of. But generally, the two ones I do recommend is either go to Riot Games comm where you can learn more about riot, but also, you know, what we're up to, and you know, what positions we have open. But also like on things like LinkedIn, where we all have our own presence. And you can also check out you know, blog posts there and as well as our openings, and also even connect with writers and ask them about their experiences.

Tony Morelan 52:11

That's great. And I'll be sharing all of the URLs in the in the show notes. For not just rankings, but also for wild rift and, and your social handles. So with diversity and inclusion being such an important aspect of our of our society, right now, tell me what is Riot Games doing related to D and I

Eric Krause 52:32

It's a very important question, Tony. And for Riot, you know, the two lenses that that I described to people on how we are thinking about diversity inclusion. The first part is obviously the one that people probably think first and foremost off, which is riot as an employer.

And, you know, me talk about my personal experience here, the way that, you know, Riot has invested over the last couple of years into that space in terms of time, but you know, money and just general resourcing has been phenomenal. I've never seen, you know, such a heavy investment being made to do the right thing. Because yes, it did require a wake-up moment for us as a company. But that moment was really turned an opportunity,

I had to make better to be a writer to work at Riot Games. So now you know, it, there's not just an D and I team that exists, but also, you know, what they do and how they impact the company is part of all the processes all around I to ensure that no matter what might be, that Riot is a welcoming, and fair environment for everybody. And that is an extremely big investment, and actually really proud to have seen the reaction to arguably, you know, the not-so-great moments that we had in the past.

So I'm sure that that makes me actually pretty proud, based on my experience. But the other part also that sometimes people forget when it comes to diversity and inclusion is right as a game creator, right? Because with that, you kind of have a responsibility as creatives to create experiences for millions of millions of players around the world that kind of allowed them to relate or in better set like that, feel seen it through the things that you make sure, because you can quickly fall into a pit trap or, you know, just create the same things over and over again, that fit a worldview of specific group, but makes other people feel left out. Yeah. And that's part of the responsibility that you have as a game creator.

So as part of the development process, to promote diversity and inclusion through that content that you make. And a very recent example actually is Valorant. Our shooter that we have because they're one of the most recent champions that just launched or agents it's called, is actually a female Karen Actor inspired by Filipino culture. Because we want to make sure that you know, if you are, you know, not just one, but in the Philippines, which arguably if you think about gaming, especially, you know, often a completely overseen and overlooked that if you are a Filipino gamer, you're like, Yeah, I feel seen sure I because there's now this agent in this game that, you know, celebrates my culture. And I'm proud of them. And that's an example of I had for how we as game makers also have some form of responsibility to promote diversity in our culture.

Tony Morelan 55:36

Yeah, I love what you said not only about how riot is taking diversity and inclusion within the company, but then you're impacting your influence outside of the company into our society. That is absolutely wonderful. So tell me, what do you do? Outside of all of your work at Riot? What do you do for fun?

Eric Krause 55:58

What to do for fun? Getting to learn anything about new cars or old cars, so I spent unhealthy amount reading and watching videos about it.

Tony Morelan 56:08

So what was your What was your first car and what is your dream car?

Eric Krause 56:15

My first car was, was an older Audi A for a Vons station wagon. Because in Europe, we love our station wagons, which I know for Americans like and don't like, of course, dream car is really hard, because there's so many amazing cars and sometimes actually fantasize about it. Like, I'll just pick one. Which one would it be? And, and probably right now, my dream car is a Porsche 356 A, which is a very old school, Porsche, but in terms of just the body lines, you know, just amazing. Unfortunate. I never had a chance yet to drive one. I'd probably drive so amazing.

Tony Morelan 56:56

That is so funny. You said that because I was waiting for my turn. And mine is also the Porsche 356. Ever since I saw the movie Top Gun, beautiful Porsche just Yes into the sunset. I've always wanted to get my hands on one funny story. My wife, she had asked me when we were dating, where do you see yourself, you know, later on in life when you retire? And I said, I see myself with a Porsche 356. So hopefully, when that day comes when I do decide to retire, shall let me get that dream car,

Eric Krause 57:28

If not some amazing fortune. I get one. I'll call you up. And then we can ride together in the sunset

Tony Morelan 57:34

Thinking for a swim. But hey, let's stay away from that LA traffic.

Eric Krause 57:37

That's sure. Yes, that's we'll definitely have to go outside of Las.

Tony Morelan 57:41

Hey, Eric, I really appreciate you taking the time to be on the podcast. It was wonderful to hear not only about yourself, but the great things that are happening over at Riot Games.

Eric Krause 57:49

Thank you. It was a pleasure. Yeah, definitely. Thank you for having me.

Closing 57:52 Looking to start creating for Samsung, download the latest tools to code your next app, or get software for designing apps without coding at all. Sell your apps to the world on the Samsung Galaxy store. Check out developer.samsung.com today and start your journey with Samsung.

Tony Morelan 58:08

The Samsung Developers podcast is hosted by Tony Morelan and produced by Jeanne Hsu