As a fully animated series based on a video game with eclectic lore, there was a lot of doubt over Arcane before it arrived. After all, League of Legends isn’t an especially story-driven experience, which made such a profound effort tantamount to swinging for the fences. As it turns out, those working in the Riot Games property knew exactly what they were doing, delivering a first season targeting mature audiences that achieves what few adaptations ever have. So, how did it accomplish this feat, and what does Arcane’s success mean for the future of video games to animated translations?
The League of Legends Approach
When it launched back in 2009, League of Legends (LoL), was an obvious take on the mobile online battle arena formula. Many claimed it was a carbon copy of DOTA, but LoL was quick to prove naysayers wrong. Involving an interesting and varied backstory, LoL was both imaginative and precise, as it produced one of the most popular competitive games ever seen. Perhaps more influential to the history of gaming was how it operated via a free-to-play (F2P) economy.
At the time, F2P games were largely unestablished and unproven. As noted by this old Destructoid article, most F2P titles of this era let players pay to gain an appreciable advantage, but this wasn’t the case for LoL. In this game, money was only used for cosmetic items, where a player who spent nothing was on the same theoretical level as someone who bought everything available.
Despite so many doubters, the free nature of the game combined with its well-designed gameplay quickly led it to massive commercial and critical success. According to Statista, the game was bringing in over $1.5 billion in revenue by 2015, which was something most full-priced games could only dream of. Now one of the biggest competitive games in the world, LoL continues to perform to this day.
Appreciation and Understanding
The big problem many saw with Riot Games adapting their formula to a different medium was that history is filled with so many failed examples of others trying a similar approach. This wasn’t always the case, however, as success could be found in those who fully understood the minutia of what was important.
On a related scale was the move that casino games took towards the online realm. There was initial doubt that players could enjoy an experience removed from physical establishments, but by keeping true to the core of casino experiences, the industry proved them wrong. These businesses would even go a step further when you consider something like the Draftkings promo codes. Such additions as deposit matches and referrals simply aren’t possible in traditional systems, reflecting the in-depth understanding the developers of the new industry offer.
Though a video translation is a very different pursuit, the success of Arcane still ties into the same idea of understanding both the original property and the demands of the new platform. Rather than going with the bare minimum, or handing the project to accomplished people in the industry with no passion for the property, Riot Games took every step carefully. In doing so, they created a show that reached the Netflix number one position in 52 countries, again achieving a level of success that most can only dream of.
With a second season already in production, there’s no telling how long this original series could run. The only thing we know for sure is that thanks to its fame, we’ll soon be inundated by a bevy of imitators. Whether they’ll be a hit or if they’ll miss the mark, however, that much remains to be seen.