The Past, Present, And Future Of Riot Games’ K-Pop Group K/DA

When Riot Games debuted its augmented reality-fueled K-pop group K/DA to the world back in 2018, League of Legends followers have been curious to say the least. Since the group’s debut music Pop/Stars, the musical squad has been pretty quiet outdoors of some staggering observe releases, however now that their full EP is out? The world is theirs for the taking. But how does a not-so-non-fictional pop sensation take over the world past simply the League of Legends group? We spoke with Riot Games to seek out out. 

Speaking with Riot Music Lead Toa Dunn and Creative Director of LoL Marketing Patrick Morales, we realized quite a bit concerning the motivations behind taking over the music world on this vogue and the place the subsequent step ought to lead. 

The previous 

Riot Music Group creates music-driven experiences throughout quite a few areas within the Riot-verse, together with the video games themselves, leisure mediums outdoors of working titles, and within the esports scene. When speaking concerning the street main as much as K/DA’s success, Dunn tells us, “Over the past few years, we’ve introduced various musicians from our music universe to our players. This includes everything from pop, K-pop, hip hop, and more. Our teams have experimented with music and have explored different ways to bring music to life, our music collectives, and the individual artists, as well as our league of legends champions that have been reimagined as modern-day musicians and performers. Our hope is to one day have a thriving music universe that fans can interact and engage in unique ways. And for us, music is key. All of this is in service of creating lasting memories and pop culture moments that resonate with players and fans alike.”

This artistic strategy to advertising noticed a novel success with K/DA, successful that has skilled a large growth, leading to quite a few media accounts to additional the phantasm of actuality, in addition to a brand new EP that is available now. The not too long ago added Seraphine sung her manner into the sport and into the pop group, even having her personal social media presence in startling element. 

Morales provides, “In many ways, K/DA represents the natural progression of where we saw music headed as a creative medium within the company. For much of League’s existence, we’ve cultivated this almost distinct musical identity in the ways that we’ve supported the game, from all the musical themes for each champion to all the cool world anthems that we would put out for our players to energize each competitive event year over year. But then we thought, what else could music do in terms of really satisfying our players and possibly stand on its own as a creative experience? So back in 2018, the teams behind the Riot Music Group and lead marketing came together, thinking about the ways in which we could do this as a way bring the music experience to life outside of the game, which inevitably became the founding pitch behind K/DA. Before all the skins, all the music videos, and all of the amazing things that we saw come out that year, we really just had one simple goal: create a true pop culture moment that would invite the outside world into what League was all about.”

Following the debut of Pop/Stars as a single, the group went quiet. No new songs, no appearances…nothing. In 2020, that modified and an enormous motive for that reappearance, in accordance with Riot Games, was as a result of so many followers saved asking for extra music. The Pop/Stars music additionally was an enormous hit within the VR sport Beat Saber, furthering curiosity for brand spanking new content material. 

The current

While the celebrities of K/DA are rendered variations of actual in-game champions, the actions and inspiration behind the group could be very actual expertise. That being stated, the main target is on the characters themselves and making them really feel built-in into our day by day lives. “As real musicians, we wanted players to be able to interact with them in the same way that they do with the kind of talent that you see in real life through social media, something that we discovered especially recently through engagement events, like spirit Blossom Festival, is that our players are always really excited by the ways that we let them interact with our champions,” Morales tells us. “So given the reality based nature of both the music universe and K/DA, this is how we decided to do that this year in this massive multi month music launch campaign covering a breadth of different channels and tactics.”

Seeing songs like Pop/Stars hit primary on music charts is thrilling, and was an enormous shock (and a welcome one) to followers in every single place. The League of Legends group is very large and it’s displaying no indicators of slowing down. Now that Riot Games is incomes that ‘S’ in its identify with quite a few titles, lots of that are spinoffs from League itself, new eyes on the Riot microcosm means extra progress, extra curiosity, and extra causes to maintain pushing for higher content material. 

Morales provides that whereas success was anticipated, the unimaginable magnetitude of it has been a wild experience. K/DA moved from being an revolutionary idea into an area the place this group grew to become an “unexpected spokesperson” for League of Legends as an entire. “We’ve heard countless stories about music fans who got into League because of K/DA as well as those of League players who have discovered an entirely new genre of music because of it,” says Dunn. “I think the common thread that we saw was that, you know, there’s this unique connection that the music of League can foster and that’s what we’re trying to do more of today.”

The inspiration behind the music could be very a lot fueled by the champions themselves and the occasions surrounding them. Okay-pop is a big style of music with an extremely loyal fanbase, however the mix of musical stylings is past simply that area of interest. It’s meant to be a celebration of those heroes, a technique to humanize them in an effort to attach the group much more. 

League is far more than simply the sport. It’s esports, it is on-line play, it is particular occasions, it is a complete ecosystem constructed on group and the connection between Riot Games and gamers. K/DA is one other bridge between the devs and the followers, making the tight-knit group even moreso whereas celebrating what introduced everybody collectively within the first place. 

Dunn provides to that, saying: “It’s really about creating meaningful content that delivers player value in new and exciting ways outside of the core game experience.” With the brand new EP and extra content material deliberate within the years to come back, the League of Legends group is getting a extremely desired breath of recent air. 

The future 

With the brand new EP, the longer term is brighter than ever. With extra music, extra collaborations, and a repeatedly rising social media presence to lend to the realism, K/DA is simply getting began relating to what the group means to the League household. 

While cartoon-facing teams is not precisely the most recent idea (assume Gorillaz), having it’s utterly fictionalized is an revolutionary step. Taking that artistic advertising idea to the subsequent stage utilizing social media is sensible — if not unnerving at occasions when coping with real-life ideas like depresson and nervousness — and utterly fleshed out. Speaking with the 2 Riot Games staff members, I needed to know the way they’ve dealt with making this fictitious group extra human with real-life experiences and distinctive personas so far. How did the staff evolve this idea past simply the “pop” expertise? 

“One of the things that we really wanted to do this year was find ways for our players to connect with our champions, because that level of interaction was always something that we found is pretty successful, based off of experience that we’ve provided,” responds Morales. “This 12 months, we needed to attempt one thing a bit of bit in a different way by truly giving them a voice by social media. And that serves two functions: The stage of interplay beforehand talked about, but in addition we needed to inform a story. League could be very a lot an IP wealthy in storytelling in quite a lot of completely different mediums, and we felt that this 12 months could be a very attention-grabbing alternative to discover what that may seem like if gamers might even have a hand in that storytelling.

“Ultimately, we checked out social media as an attention-grabbing platform for that, we needed to see the place this might doubtlessly lead. The newest champion’s story was one which we thought was actually attention-grabbing, we needed to know the way we might inform this type of origin of a rising star who actually bought to find herself and discover a place amongst her idols. So by way of how we did that, we adopted an analogous thought course of to K/DA. That philosophy was that we by no means actually needed to stray too removed from the core truths of who these champions are. Lots of the weather that individuals love about Evelyn, n phrases of her being this sort of excessive diva, are actually simply derived from her base traits as a champion inside League. She’s a demon that thrives off of consideration, and we needed to create a whole lot of those self same artistic parallels with their K/DA personnas in a lot of the identical manner once we first heard that serophene was this musician who is admittedly all about empathy at her core, we needed to create a narrative primarily based off of that and actually create a persona. Their core personalities created these personas and every social media profile is an extension off of that.”

It’s going to be attention-grabbing to see how K/DA continues to evolve and its affect felt throughout the League of Legends group. In the meantime, the brand new EP completely slaps and you may hearken to it for your self within the video under: 


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