Riot Games, the creators behind the very popular MOBA game “League of Legends” has come under a lot of fire from their fans recently regarding one of their latest new additions to the game.
Now I know what you’re thinking, are people really complaining about a champions kit on release, once again?
Like they always do?
Well, whilst the community hasn’t still got over Aphelios kit (and plenty of us still don’t understand how the fuck it works) this isn’t the reason why Riot Games has received backlash in the past month or so.
It is actually down to the way they have marketed their new champion, Seraphine, which rubbed a lot of the community the wrong way.
It bothered me to some degree (hence why I’m writing this post) but on the other hand, I applaud their marketing team (and everyone else involved).
It’s unlike anything I’ve seen from a video game (or any other media company) before.
Typical Riot Games Marketing
I just want to speak generally about the way Riot Games usually generate hype around their new champions so that you understand their usual formula and further understand why people are going mad about their latest scheme.
Typically, Riot would tease a champion on their social accounts, usually including some sort of video within the Runterra universe that hints at this, perhaps this includes characters the community already knows, perhaps it doesn’t.
And afterward, they will leave more and more clues until the champion releases, along with a skin that players can buy on the day he/she/it is released.
Now, in the past years, Riot has made an effort to shoehorn their new releases into some sort of event or fresh skin line which helps them market their champions since essentially everything is about this new character for around about a month.
Completely good marketing strategy, an ethical one too.
How Riot Games Marketed Seraphine
Though it was different this time around.
Seraphine was marketed in a new way.
To give some context on why they marketed her this way, its key to understand a little more about the character – here is a snippet taking from the official Seraphine LoL BIO:
“Seraphine has become the premier star in both Piltover and Zaun. Empowered by her gifts and her hextech, she amplifies the voices of all with a fresh force of optimism, because to her, everyone deserves to be heard—especially those who are struggling. They inspire her, and she will do her best to inspire them in return.“
Essentially, she’s a singer/songwriter type.
A bit unusual for the League of Legends universe as it contains bloodthirsty fighters.
The problems started when the community felt as though Riot Games forced her into the League of Legends world by adding her to KDA, a fictional music band within the game.
KDA actually have their own music out (and some of it is actually pretty good).
To the community, it looked as if they just REALLY wanted to bring the hype back to the KDA band, as they’re due to release more music in late 2020, so what they seemed to do was create a champion (specifically who sings and writes songs) to shoehorn her into the band.
To help push their music on release.
It needs to be noted that the other fictional members are not singers or songwriters in the universe, they are just made to appear this way for the sake of the skin-line.
But whatever, it’s just marketing right – even if they appear to primarily create a champion JUST to sell the KDA band music, even more, we can deal with that.
But it got worse.
Because Seraphine has been created as a singer/songwriter, they marketed her as such – meaning that she has her own social accounts she tweets from, about her work, her struggles – you know the usual stuff you tweet out on Twitter.
Now obviously, you and I both know it’s just some fat 40-year-old neckbeard who works for Riot Games behind this account, but sadly I believe not everyone knows that, judging by some of the responses.
They even created real-life art to post on these platforms which made her appear as if she had a ‘normal’ life like the rest of us.
Although this art was set in real life, it is pretty obvious it was just a fictional character unlike accounts such as lilmiquela where the realism of the design almost makes it indistinguishable from real life itself.
As mentioned, Seraphine (fat neckbeard) tweeted out about her ‘struggles’ all to create a narrative about the KDA music ‘she’ was creating, which is….it’s not completely terrible but it’s still pretty bad.
A lot of her tweets looked a little like this:
The formula goes like most interactions that ‘insecure’ people have on Twitter:
- Post selfie with some sad quote begging for attention (here she is saying she wishes she was like one of the other band members)
- Some dork replies with some uplifting comment
- OP replies by saying thank you as if such a response was unanticipated.
As I said, this formula isn’t too unique to Twitter (or to any social media platform for that matter).
In my opinion, it is absolutely cringing to even respond like this to a fucking video game character.
At least do it to someone who could use the confidence boost if you’re going to do it in the first place.
With that being said, when I thought about writing this article, I thought there was a standout tweet that pissed me and other members of the community off, but there are actually quite a lot of posts that make out Seraphine is struggling with mental health.
Her tweets display a journey as any musician takes.
With ups and downs
The problem is when the account starts referencing mental health; acting as if Seraphine herself is going through some sort of struggle, whether that be anxiety or imposter syndrome.
Some of her fans even console her on it, letting her know it’s completely fine because they feel the same way too.
This is just absolutely sad to see.
An actual person who is going through mental health issues themselves in COMFORTING A FAKE CHARACTER about her issues.
I’m all for bringing mental health to light, but when it’s done by creating a character who is fake struggling as a way of being relatable so they can push cosmetics down your throat and force $$$ out of your wallet, it’s just sickening.
Note: this would be more than fine if it were a TV or Film, as this type of character is not part of the marketing strategy as a way of selling extra copies, it is ultimately a part of the film (and in some cases like these, it makes the film worth watching in the first place, think about characters like Joker).
Seraphine however is a part of a gaming world (fine) but has also been made to make $$$ through the sale of the actual character as well as her cosmetics that she has been released with.
This is where it becomes a problem and is a lot of the reason why the community is pretty upset.
More ‘Struggle’ Tweets from Seraphine…
Swing and a big miss
Riot Games has essentially shoehorned a character into the LoL universe JUST to make her a part of KDA (their digital music band) to help push sales on the new digital album all the while running multiple social accounts as ‘Seraphine’ acting as if she’s going through the struggles that a REAL musician goes through.
The thing that leaves a bitter taste in someone mouth is knowing that they’ve done all this, to make her seem relatable, so they can sell her back to you – because you now feel some connection
Not to mention the champion has a boring character design (looks like a stereotypical e-girl) and it also plays like a better version of Sona, one of their oldest and most loved characters.
They clearly developed their marketing strategy WAY before they even thought about the in-game look and design of the character, and thanks to backlash from the community…
Riot Games won’t make this mistake again…
Everyone involved in the Seraphine project, whether that’s the artist behind her voice or the entire team behind the KDA band she is now apart of have my appreciation.
Even the marketing team to some degree, although their strategy is unethical, you can not deny that the whole strategy is awesome, and as someone who works and is interested in marketing as a whole.
I take my hat off to you.