Riot Takes the Riftwalk Experience on the Road Across the U.S. and Canada
The Riftwalk Experience
Riot asked The Trade Group to create a fun, interactive experience that would serve as a big “Thank You!” to the community of fans who support and play Riot’s flagship game League of Legends (LoL). On average, 67 million people play LoL every month. The Riftwalk experience originated at PAX East in 2016 in a separate space outside of the main hall in an effort to transport guests away from the show floor and into the custom-designed experience.
The interactive Riftwalk experience was designed to mimic Summoner’s Rift, a map central to the landscape of the LoL game. The experience featured opportunities for social media activations tied to RFID technology, a large, custom stage for supplemental eSports activities, several “shareable” photo opportunities, fan artwork, six character statues created by celebrated artist Steve Wang, a merchandise store, sponsor tents and an adjacent VIP space – the Cospitality Room – where cosplayers who dress as popular LoL characters could relax, mingle, repair costumes, take photos and access dressing rooms.
The PAX East experience was so popular with LoL fans, Riot added five more cities to the Riftwalk tour, where the experience was open to fans for three days per stop. The second spot on the tour was the kickoff of the Riot Games 2016 League of Legend’s World Championship Tour in Toronto, Canada. At this eSports event, teams competed to win a slot to vie for the LoL Summoner’s Cup. Next, the tour traveled to San Francisco for Riot’s two-week Group Stage event, then moved on to the LoL Quarterfinals in Chicago. The semifinals in New York came next, followed by the last stop, the World Championship Tour Finals in Los Angeles.
Strategic Company-Wide Objectives
OVERVIEW: Founded in 2006, Riot Games is a video game developer, publisher and e-sports tournament organizer. In 2009, the company released its wildly successful debut title, League of Legends, the most successful competitive video game in existence.
INDUSTRY: Gaming and E-Sports
HOME BASE: W. Los Angeles, CA
FUN FACT: More than 67 million people play League of Legends every month.
After easing back from exhibiting in recent years, Riot Games was looking to make a big splash at the 2016 PAX East gaming show in Boston. The game developer wanted to create a fun, interactive experience that would serve as a big thank you – a love note of sorts – to its community of fans that support its flagship game, League of Legends. In addition, Riot wanted to showcase the contributions of the creators and artists who bring the characters of the Rift to life, onscreen and off. This included the artwork that gamers enjoy within the game as well as pieces created by talented fans, many who collaborate to build elaborate 3-D recreations of the game’s characters and scenes. Riot also wanted to celebrate the mythology that is integral to the game’s story, while sharing the evolution of the game with fans through an interactive guided tour. League of Legends has gone through a dramatic graphic update since its launch in 2009, and Riot knew its loyal fans would enjoy revisiting the past.
To accomplish this task The Trade Group created a design plan that featured:
• FABRIC: Sheer, 15-foot high, fabric graphics printed with scenes from the game’s landscape were trussed up and used for both perimeter and divider walls.
• FLOORING: Custom carpet was hand-painted and airbrushed to look like the same cobblestone featured in the game.
• 3-D FEATURES & FOLIAGE: Faux, 3-D stone features were created from foam and placed along the foot of the fabric walls along with ferns and other plants to give the space an organic feel.
• LIGHTING: All ballroom lighting was turned off and custom, colored lights and smoke effects were used to mimic the vibe and colors of the game.
• AUDIO: Ambient audio was customized for each unique space including a welcome greeting, League music and sound effects such as animals moving around in the brush and minions marching.
Along with fan and contributor artwork and Steve Wang’s character statues, The Trade Group created four distinct photo ops throughout the space that could easily be shared on social media (see RFID strategy below). These key photo opportunities included:
No. 1: Animated GIF photo opp at Blue Platform feature, included a choice of weapon props.
No. 2: Bullet-time, Matrix-like, 180° photo opp with 14.5’ tall Baron Nashor character sculpture.
No. 3: Slow-motion photo opp at Red Platform feature.
No. 4: Forced perspective photo opp with 13’ tall Thresh character puppet appearing as if fans stood inside Thresh’s signature lantern.
The Trade Group utilized software to generate hype and a “take home memory” for the attendees with the RFID wristbands system. The RFID wristband’s purpose was to connect to each of the four photo ops that would then be stitched together and delivered to attendee emails as a professional quality video of their personal Riftwalk experience.
These RFID wristbands allowed attendees to reserve spots in advance, register their favorite character and share their favorite parts of the game by filling out information online. During the event, the RFID wristbands would trigger monitors in each station of the exhibit and present content related to the attendee’s registered information. The combination of an interactive experience and the RFID wristbands provided fans with the opportunity to share their experiences with friends on social media.
BY THE NUMBERS
10,900 fans visited the Riftwalk experience, of which:
- More than 95 percent of the attendees were between the ages of 13 and 34.
- Nearly 80 percent of attendees were male.
Nearly 170,000 individual engagements were tracked over the course of the event. An engagement is any record/instance of a user intentionally interacting with an onsite element, i.e., either checking into a “swipe” station or participating in a photo op.
More than 22,000 photos, videos and GIFs were delivered to attendees.
More than 31,000 microsite page views made by Riftwalk attendees.
The Riftwalk experience was so popular that many attendees waited in queue lines for up to five hours with great anticipation for their turn to experience the Riftwalk. Fans thoroughly enjoyed the experience and said the Riftwalk was definitely worth the wait.
LEAGUE OF LEGEND’S FAN FEEDBACK
Despite the long lines, the Riftwalk was a can’t-miss experience for the League of Legends community of fans, cosplayers, creators and artists.
“After speaking to many fellow attendees, it was expressed that their favorite parts of the Riftwalk were that you can actually touch the displays and take multiple personal and unique photos with them. It was like actually being there in Summoner’s Rift.”
– Bryan Pichardo, VIDEO GAME TIDBITS
“If you are at PAX East and call yourself a League fan you have to go. The lines are insane but they are totally worth the wait.”
– Steven Asarch, iDigital Times