Riot Games stated that it's all in on esports and is working to create better experiences for all. As part of it, Riot revealed its Virtual Pass for Worlds 2023


Riot Games Puts Fan Engagement First, Reveals Virtual Pass for Worlds 2023

Sadakshi Kalyan Ramun
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Riot Games is going all-in on esports and stated that it is committed to building incredible esports and entertainment experiences deeply rooted in games.
At the heart of this is its newest product called Virtual Pass which is planned to be rolled out during Worlds 2023.
Here’s all you need to know about it.

Riot Games is changing things up drastically heading into the 2023 season and it revealed the roadmap it has laid out for its esports divisions including League of Legends Esports (LoL Esports) and Valorant Champions Tour (VCT). Riot Games stated that it aspires to be the most player-focused game company in the world by building incredible esports and entertainment experiences deeply rooted in games. 

In a blog post titled One Shot, Riot Games said, “We’re all in on esports at Riot and are dedicated to creating a sustainable future for teams, players, and fans.” At the heart of this is Riot Games’ newest esports product called a ‘Virtual Pass,’ which will possibly feature digital and physical products including in-game cosmetics, and Worlds merchandise. 

In the blog post John Needham, president of esports at Riot Games, talked in detail about the plans Riot Games has for the Virtual Pass.

What is Riot Games’ Virtual Pass?

Needham talked about the nature of esports events and touched upon how they are much more global rather than being constricted to a particular city. He pointed out that this leaves very few ways to monetize the fandom, so Riot Games is looking to address this challenge by creating a virtual ticket program that will “enhance both the fan experience watching [our] events online and also generate revenue.

Starting with Worlds 2023, Riot Games will be testing out this new product that bridges online and in-real-life (IRL) fan engagement via the Virtual Pass. Needham gave primary goals for this product:

  • A rich online Worlds viewing experience;

  • A bundle of products and services at a tremendous value;

  • More ways to express their fandom and excitement. 

  • Support esports team revenues. 

For League of Legends Worlds 2023, the Virtual Pass will feature a mix of digital products (Worlds skin exclusive variant, in-game event pass, plus some exclusive content), unique physical products (exclusive Worlds merch), and physical and digital goods from sponsors.

Following this, in 2024, Riot Games is looking to expand this and introduce the Virtual Pass to the Valorant Champions Tour (VCT) by adding more experiential features to bring fans closer to the action. Some of the examples that were given (preliminary ideas) include the following:

  • Access to premium in-game cameras

  • Access to special cameras around the live event venue

  • Exclusive chat channels and lounges

  • Digital collectibles, status items like special icons or borders 

  • The ability to have very select fan messages show up on the event broadcast. 

John Needham reiterated, “These are just ideas and examples… some of them are probably bad and won’t see the light of day (or so my team occasionally tells me…)” Riot Games is intentionally building the Virtual Pass to have team-specific versions with team-branded goods, pro team room access, and others.

If we design this product right, it will deliver great experiences and connect fans with their favorite players and teams, while simultaneously creating a new revenue stream for teams,” said Needham confidently.

Given that these are initial ideas that Riot Games has planned for the Virtual Pass during Worlds 2023, there might be changes to it and it could look completely different in a few months’ time.

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Sadakshi has been a gamer throughout her life and has followed League of Legends since Season 3, immediately falling in love with the esports scene. Bringing in her print journalism experience, she focuses on content that is both informative and innovative. While her heart still remains with League, her love for competition has pushed her to explore other titles such as Valorant and Apex Legends.

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