The power of platforms
WHEN Marc Merrill and his partner designed the online game League of Legends and founded a company, Riot Games, in 2009 to bring it to market, they didn’t only have in mind to create a new product for the gaming world. Their strategy was to build a platform. Already, that platform has become a very valuable one. Start with the game itself: 67 million people play it each month,1 generating some $1 billion dollars in annual revenue for the company.2 These gamers, who may be sitting alone in their dorm rooms but who, online, join up as teams to do battle, all play for free; Riot Games makes its money when, having drawn everyone into its designed environment, it finds other ways to capitalize on their presence. More recently, the company extended its platform to the offline world, creating live events in which League of Legend teams compete in tournaments in front of live spectators. It doing so, it launched what is now the fastest-growing part of the sports industry: e-sports.