"We’re making some changes around in-game content which will create additional revenue streams for players and teams."
- Excerpt of a blog post by Riot Games about the future of League of Legends' eSports industry.
Riot Games is the house that League of Legends built, and now the company claims it will be sharing some revenue from the game with pro players and teams in an effort to reinforce the game's foundations as a sustainable eSport.
Even if you aren't invested in the state of eSports, Riot's promises are significant because they come in the wake of heavy criticism of the company by members of the League of Legends eSports community -- including former League pro player and current Team SoloMid owner Andy Dinh.
Last month Dinh drew fire (and later, a promise to change for the better) from Riot cofounder Marc Merrill after he complained publicly that Riot was undermining League pro players' ability to make a living by (among other things) making significant changes to the way the game plays right before major tournaments.
This might make the game more interesting to watch, suggested Dinh, but it also makes it much trickier for pro players to sustain their careers since so much of their income can be dependent on winning tournaments to earn prize money or a paid spot on a pro team.
At the time Merrill promised to both improve League patch timing and expand the ways pro players could generate revenue in an effort to make careers as League pros more sustainable. Today's post outlines some concrete ways Riot plans to make that happen, some of which will bring League closer in line with competitor Dota 2 in terms of the way it handles revenue.
Most notably, it is promising to begin sharing 25 percent of revenue earned from sales of in-game skins inspired by actual players and teams with the players, teams and leagues they're based on. This is notable because it's sort of surprising it hasn't happened sooner, and also because Riot has promised to retroactively share a portion of earnings on past player-inspired skin sales with prior League champions.
Also, starting with Worlds 2016 (the League of Legends championship series which runs from the end of September through October), Riot will begin contributing 25 percent of revenue from tournament-unique item sales to tournament prize pools.
Valve, of course, has been doing something similar for its Dota 2 The International tournaments for some time, and generating the industry's richest prize pools as a result.
The full post goes into some greater detail about how all these changes will play out, and outlines some other notable ways Riot is planning to change the state of League of Legends pro play in 2017.