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Riot Games on K / DA and future plans

Riot Games on K / DA and future plans

When Riot Games unveiled their K-pop group K / DA to the world in 2018, few ordinary players expected the project to be a phenomenal success. Yes, Korean expansion into the Western music market had already begun, but it was still far from the 2020 level. And it was extremely strange to watch a rather long inactive virtual girl band.

I was lucky enough to take part in a small press conference with Riot Music Group head Toa Dunn and League of Legends Creative Director Patrick Morales, during which Riot representatives spoke about the past, present and future of K / DA.

Dunn: “Over the past few years, we've introduced our players to the various bands of the Riot universe. From hip-hop and pop artists to metal bands. Our team is constantly experimenting with different genres of music and looking for ways to bring music into everyday life. We hope that one day we will create a musical universe in which fans will communicate with each other in unique ways. For us, music is a key aspect of creating unforgettable memories that resonate in the hearts of players and fans. ”

It was this kind of creative approach that led to the fact that the virtual girl band became incredibly popular around the world. The illusion that K / DA are real is skillfully created by the various accounts of the participants in social networks, as well as the EP released just yesterday. Even the collaboration with guest star Serafina, which resulted in the track MORE, looked like a typical announcement of any real musical group. Plus, Serafina, even before the official statement from Riot, was perceived by many fans as a real performer, thanks to all the same live accounts on social networks.

Morales: “In many ways, K / DA represents the natural evolution of all Riot's musical ideas. Throughout most of League of Legends' existence, we've worked on musical identity, creating unique Champion themes and Worlds anthems. But then we thought, what else can be done so that our music not only pleases our players, but also be an independent creation? And in 2018, the Riot Music Group teamed up with marketing to bring our entire musical experience outside of the game. Which, in fact, became the foundation for K / DA. We wanted K / DA to be an invitation for the world to enter the League of Legends universe. ”

After a successful debut with the single Pop / Stars, the group fell silent. For a long time there was nothing: no new songs, no performances. But things changed in 2020, and according to Riot Games, the main reason for the comeback was that many fans were asking for more music. Plus, Pop / Stars became so popular that it could be heard almost everywhere and it was impossible to ignore such attention from fans.

At first glance, all the members of K / DA are only virtual characters, like the rapidly gaining popularity VTuber. But you need to understand that there are real people behind each such virtual image. And great attention is paid to integrating the characters as much as possible into our real everyday life.

Morales: “We really wanted players to be able to interact with K / DA members in the same way fans can interact with real artists through social media.”

According to Riot Games, while the success of K / DA was predictable, they did not expect such a strong reaction from the community. In no time, K / DA became a living (if the term is generally applicable to virtual characters) representative of League of Legends.

Dunn: “We've heard a lot of stories of people getting into League of Legends because of K / DA, and stories of the band helping players discover a whole new genre of music.”

League of Legends is not just a game at the moment. It is a special ecosystem built on the relationship between Riot Games and the players. And the virtual K-pop group is another bridge between fans and developers, helping to unite the community.

Dunn: “We create special content that provides players with emotion in new ways that are different from the traditional gaming experience.”

In the future, both the K / DA project in particular and Riot Games in general do not have to worry. Toa Dunn stated that the team plans to move in the direction of different genres, instead of taking a step back and returning to True Damage and Pentakill. And it is the personalities of the League of Legends characters that will determine the direction of any new musical projects. 

Riot also said that it would be nice to arrange live tours for their virtual artists. However, the situation with the pandemic has made its own adjustments, and League of Legends fans can wait for a very long time for some analogue of Hatsune Miku Magical Mirai. In the meantime, you can enjoy the fresh release and dream that Riot Games Music will decide to expand their influence in the music market with the help of new projects, for example, the boy band from the operatives Valorant. Although personally I would not refuse musical experiments with heavy, aggressive metal sound.