2021 has undoubtedly been the year of ‘Arcane’. The series, available on Netflix, is based on ‘League of Legends’, a true mass phenomenon and one of the most played video games in the world, But it goes much further. Against the current of ‘binge-watching’, it was launched in three consecutive weeks, taking over the lists of the most watched programs on the platform in more than 50 countries. Figures like this are only achieved in one way: transcending the comfort of a community of users dedicated to daring the whole world.
At the time of this writing, a month after its conclusion, ‘Arcane’ is still inside of the top 10 most viewed English-language series on Netflix around the globe, with almost 13 and a half million hours viewed. The story of its protagonists, the sisters Jinx and Vi – who already existed as avatars in the game – has already been renewed for a second season that will premiere after 2022.
The credit goes to Riot Games, the Californian developer responsible for ‘League of Legends’ and a subsidiary of the Chinese conglomerate Tencent, which also produces the series. ‘Arcane’ is the television head of his great plan for the coming years, and the effects of his success are already being felt in the rest of the system: since the series premiered on Netflix, the main characters are much more chosen by users when it comes to playing.
However, fiction has also triumphed beyond the public well versed in digital entertainment. Perhaps it was due to its unique visual identity based on a concoction of 2D and 3D animation and the languages of serial fiction and video clips, the work of the Galo Fortiche animation studio; or maybe because of the robustness of its script, which does not mortgage on what viewers may have learned about the characters and their world behind the mouse and keyboard.
The warm reception of ‘Arcane’ among viewers continues to feel at this point like a bath of good press for Riot, which has been battling for about three years with numerous testimonies that have denounced cases of gender discrimination and sexual harassment within the company. With his winning bet – and expensive, since the production process took six years -, Riot has also blurred the curse that haunted video game adaptations. This black legend augured that any translation of a video game to the cinema or series had failure to do so, and it seemed to be fulfilled without exception. Until today.
“I don’t think Riot Games can keep up with Arcane ‘, it’s impossible”
If video game adaptations for the small and big screen had earned their bad name, why is ‘Arcane’ different? “Because it has been known to sell better,” says Diego Pazos, a journalist from Eurogamer, one of the most prestigious video game information portals in our country. Pazos attributes the success of the series with the general public to the studio’s efforts to shed video games and write with television in mind, as well as Riot’s direct involvement in the project. “When video game adaptations fail, it is often because interests are mixed of producers or of those who have the rights at the time, “he explains.” Riot’s being behind it has been key. ”
The story that ‘Arcane’ tells had already been outlined within the game itself, but with an extremely thin line. The mechanics of ‘League of Legends’ do not allow players much more than to intuit, from brief phrases or fillers, the motivations and personalities of the avatars they choose. The task of ‘Arcane’, therefore, was to rewrite and expand what users already knew. “League of Legends’ is not a game with a story, it’s like adapting ‘FIFA’ into a film, points out the ‘streamer’ Yuste, founder of Maniacs, Twitch channel on electronic sports that is the main information space for ‘League of Legends’ in the country.
Can you see ‘Arcane’ without playing?
The problem of the tree falling in an empty forest especially haunts series aimed at niche audiences. How could ‘Arcane’ be truly successful working on codes that only gamers understand? Fortunately, this is not the case. Both veterans and uninitiated in ‘League of Legends’ can enjoy – in principle – the Netflix series. Pazos explains this victory by the care taken by ‘Arcane’ of not overly relying on references and cameos placed to please an already known audience: “The series bothers from the beginning to explain things, but does not want to overwhelm or lose you with the information.”
There are moments in the plot of ‘Arcane’ whose meaning is not complete if the game has not been played, but this is not an exclusive obstacle for newbies. The winks are tangled enough to entertain hard-core fans without getting in the way of others. “There are things in the series that I have seen and that someone who does not play does not know what they are, but 80% of the people who do play do not know either,” says Yuste. Pazos agrees that, being a regular player, the series is more enjoyable, but he points out that this does not prevent getting excited with its narration: “You can understand that something is important without having to know why it is.”
The new Marvel
‘Arcane’ is the first major evidence of a plan to position ‘League of Legends’ as a relevant brand across media boundaries. Maybe soon we’ll talk about Riot and its product network like we do about Marvel today.. “Arcane changes everything. The idea from now on is that champions [así se llaman los avatares jugables de ‘League of Legends’] they begin to be characters that people can identify with, as in the Marvel universe, “explains Pazos.
This strategy to create bonds with the public does not necessarily seek to recruit new players. In fact, the transfer of viewers without video game experience to an application that has become increasingly large and complex to Pazos seems “a nightmare” and “absolutely impossible.” According to him, the ‘Arcane’ phenomenon wants to redirect itself: “Riot is trying to get people to identify with Jinx and Vi, to disguise themselves as them at carnivals, to be pending when a new series comes out … The idea is to create a Riot universe in which not only the people of video games, but the whole world “.
It seems logical, then, to measure the transformation that ‘League of Legends’ has started with respect to the size of Marvel’s macro-productions or, even, the imaginary of Lego blocks, which has diversified to the unthinkable. This is what Yuste foresees: “We have the video game, the competitions, the comics, the series … In the future, they will do ‘live action’ and movies, it is normal if you have a product that works so well “. However, it would be too optimistic to expect from the rest of this proto-universe a standard as enviable as that of the Netflix series. “I don’t think Arcane’s level can be maintained,” admits the ‘streamer’. “It is impossible”.
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‘Arcane’, analyzed by experts: “It will turn the ‘League of Legends’ into the new Marvel”