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Riot almost made a Smash Bros.-inspired fighting game, report says

Sora and Mario shake hands in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate in front of a half moon.

Riot Games, best known for its MOBA League of Legends, has ventured outside its comfort zone over the years, with an autochess game, a team-based shooter, a digital collectible card game, and even a TV show.

According to Mikhail Klimentov, former editor at Launcher, reported in his newsletter ReaderGrev that Riot was working on a Super Smash Bros. Melee-inspired fighting game with League of Legends characters called Pool Party. It was set to be a part of Riot’s esports strategy as well before it was scrapped.

Sources said that around 80 employees were working on the title, but many on staff became frustrated with changes in direction toward “party game” and “casual-friendly” mechanics instead of more a more “hardcore” feel. Executives were then troubled by the apparent failure of the Smash competitor scene, with MultiVersus and others not meeting expectations. (It’s worth noting that MultiVersus was in open beta, was removed from stores, and recently relaunched in 1.0.)

“We always have a number of projects in various phases of R&D, and spinning projects up and down happens multiple times a year,” Joe Hixson, senior communications director at Riot Games, said in a statement to Klimentov.

It’s not uncommon for studios to scrap projects, even far into game development. We’ve heard many of these stories recently, with Rockstar Games apparently stopping production on a Grand Theft Auto 5 story-based DLC and Ubisoft canceling the in-development The Division Heartland to focus on more established franchises and the newly released first-person multiplayer shooter XDefiant.

Riot has also had a lot of ups and downs recently. For example, it “reset” an in-development MMO, according to a post from co-founder Marc Merrill in March. It also shut down Riot Forge in January, its publishing label focused on hiring indie studios for League spinoffs, and laid off over 500 workers. Riot also has an R&D division that it uses to test possible new projects, so it’s likely that there are many more canceled and delayed titles we don’t know about.

Riot isn’t out of the fighting game scene, though. It’s working on 2XKO, a 2v2 team-based fighting game that features League of Legends characters and is due out in 2025.

Carli Velocci
Carli is a technology, culture, and games editor and journalist. They were the Gaming Lead and Copy Chief at Windows Central…
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