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Report: Riot scrapped a Smash Bros. inspired fighter over market concerns

The title, codenamed Pool Party, was being worked on by around 80 developers and was set in the League of Legends universe.

Chris Kerr, News Editor

July 10, 2024

2 Min Read
The Riot Games logo
Image via Riot Games

Riot Games scrapped an unannounced fighter codenamed Pool Party in May 2024 after executives became concerned it would struggle to win over consumers.

That's according to a new report from journalist Mikhail Klimentov, who spoke with current and former Riot employees familiar with the situation.

It's claimed around 70 to 80 staffers were developing the project, which was envisioned as a platformer-brawler set in the League of Legends universe. The project took some cues from Nintendo's flagship Super Smash Bros. franchise and was viewed by Riot as a means to bolster its presence in the esports scene.

Riot reportedly pitched the title as a hardcore fighter, but eventually shifted the goalposts to incorporate party game mechanics and more casual elements. Those changes reportedly left staff frustrated.

MultiVersus was a cautionary tale for Pool Party

It's also claimed Riot was concerned about the viability of Pool Party, with executives worried the project might struggle to make an impact. The fluctuating performance of Warner Bros. Games IP-splattered fighter MultiVersus, which debuted to strong player counts in early access but struggled to maintain momentum (thanks Kotaku), apparently left Riot leaders questioning whether Pool Party would meet the same fate.

MultiVersus was eventually delisted ahead of its official launch in May 2024, at which point it amassed over 114,000 concurrent players on Steam alone.

Sources explained that around half of the Pool Party team were offered a reassignment within the company, while others sought out new positions via the company's internal job board. 10 people reportedly didn't receive an offer and hadn't applied for another role within Riot. It's unclear if those people were laid off or departed voluntarily.

When approached for comment, Riot told Klimentov it always has a number of projects in "various phases of R&D" and said "spinning projects up and down happens multiple times a year."

Riot Games laid off 530 people at the beginning of the year and admitted it overreached with some "big bets" that failed to pay off. The company added to an onslaught of layoffs at major studios including Embracer Group, Microsoft, Sony, EA, Take-Two, and more.

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About the Author(s)

Chris Kerr

News Editor, GameDeveloper.com

Game Developer news editor Chris Kerr is an award-winning journalist and reporter with over a decade of experience in the game industry. His byline has appeared in notable print and digital publications including Edge, Stuff, Wireframe, International Business Times, and PocketGamer.biz. Throughout his career, Chris has covered major industry events including GDC, PAX Australia, Gamescom, Paris Games Week, and Develop Brighton. He has featured on the judging panel at The Develop Star Awards on multiple occasions and appeared on BBC Radio 5 Live to discuss breaking news.

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