About 10 years ago, at the Game Developers Conference in San Francisco, I went to see a game put together by an enterprising team of ex-modders who’d found some funding. It was based on a very popular Warcraft mod, a weird mutation of real-time strategy in which you only controlled one unit, around which an amusingly impenetrable subculture of memes and Eurodance YouTube videos had grown. The game was arcane and brutally competitive, drowning in jargon, and seemed to move both very fast and very slow, with interminably long matches. I didn’t get it at all and found myself unable to assess its quality or prospects. I didn’t write it up.
The game was League of Legends and it went on to be the biggest game in the world.
The big boys tried to get in on the action, of course. Valve hired a rival modder with claims of authorship over the Warcraft mod – Defense of the Ancients, or Dota – and, lunging for legitimacy, called its game Dota 2. It was even less accessible than League, and almost as big. Warcraft developer Blizzard belatedly tried to get in on a booming genre that had grown out of its own designs and code, squabbling with Valve over naming rights. Its game, Heroes of the Storm, was more approachable, knocking off some of the genre’s sharper and rougher edges. It didn’t catch on. There were many, many others, including games based on Lord of the Rings and DC comics superheroes. Most of them failed.
Read more: eurogamer.net