In 2020, Riot Games confirmed that it's making an MMO when the project's executive producer, Greg Street, casually tweeted that he was heading up the project. That kind of low-key game announcement is a small trend right now—Blizzard recently soft announced a survival game—but it also turns out that Street is just a pretty unguarded tweeter. Case in point: Riot's PR department would probably not want to say, unprompted, that the studio's big MMO isn't guaranteed to release, but that's something Street tweeted in early April.
In a series of follow-up posts today, Street said that his comment had been misinterpreted by “some players and media” to mean that development of the MMO was going poorly. In fact, “it is going great,” Street says. When he said there was “no guarantee” it would come out, he meant it in the sense that nothing in life is guaranteed.
“There is no guarantee any game in this business will ship,” Street tweeted today. “Anyone who makes that promise is essentially saying they will ship even if the game is disappointing. We won't ship a disappointing game.”
Street added that his team “also won't crunch just to make sure the game is as good as it can be,” and that Riot will “absolutely” release an MMO at some point, even if his MMO never ships (but to be clear, it is going great).
“Maybe I am not the right leader, or this is not the right team, or our design isn't the right one,” Street said. “But the company will keep at it until the game is worthy of your expectations.”
A few weeks ago I made a tweet where I intended to emphasize what a commitment I had made to this MMO. Some players and media latched onto the “might never ship” part and extrapolated that the development was not going well. Spoiler: It is going great. This team is so stacked.April 20, 2022
Unless we count Street's expressions of hypothetical self-doubt, there's no evidence that Riot's MMO is in bad shape. We really don't know much about it or its development. And, of course, what he says is true. Street worked at Blizzard while it was developing Titan, the MMO that morphed into Overwatch after being canceled in 2014, so he has first-hand knowledge of how plans can change in the games business.
Nevertheless, saying “maybe I am not the right leader” when you don't intend to stop being the leader does sound a little preemptively defensive. I think I've said the same thing after being asked to choose a restaurant for the group.
Maybe Street is just being frank, though. By his own admission, he likes to talk. That's true when he's under pressure to talk, such as when his name came up in relation to allegations about former Blizzard colleagues and he tweeted about it (truthfully, as far as we've gathered). And it's true when when he's had a completely unprompted thought, such as when it occurred to him last year that people might not like his new MMO and he tweeted about it. The guy tweets. Many of us have been there.
One Street tweet I think we can easily take at face value came in January of this year, when he said that the first playtest for Riot's MMO “won't be soon.” The project was hinted at as early as 2018, but was only confirmed two years ago, and MMOs are not known for being lightweight projects. New World released five years after Amazon first announced it, for example, so I don't expect to be playing Riot's thing for at least a couple more years.
We might find out more about it from a Street tweet at any time, though, which gives the project an agreeably casual, unpredictable character, as if it's a little indie effort. I do wonder if Street will really get to decide not to ship the game if he really deems it to be “disappointing.” I suspect it won't come to that, but the future is unknowable.