Sometimes You Gotta Alienate Some players
If you’ve seen our Valorant review, you’ll probably remember me talking about the game’s steep difficulty curve and its hardcore competitive gameplay. It sure isn’t for everyone, but Riot Games is okay with that. In a recent interview with EuroGamer many from the Valorant development team sat down to discuss some of their ideas.
One of the things discussed is the artstyle of Valorant, which many gamers seemed turned off by. Stepping away from gritty realism, Valorant takes a colourful, cartoonish approach to their art which is visually impactful. Even with the criticisms, Riot isn’t going to be stepping away from their original vision for the project. They are aiming to be a competitive shooter and nothing more, and they know that requires visual clarity for all their players.
David Straily, the Game Tech Lead on Valorant had this to say about it:
“We are an unapologetically competitive game – and in order to maintain that focus, we have to make compromises on in-game visual fidelity.
“We as Rioters often talk about our “black licorice” culture. We target a certain type of game experience, for a certain type of player – we never intend to be a jack-of-all-trades experience; we know the game doesn’t appeal to everyone, and that’s OK. We deliver where it counts.
“That being said, if we can hit our readability and performance targets – yet still level up the visual fidelity, we will do so. You’ve seen some of this on the transition from closed beta to worldwide launch (3D character select, spawn barrier VFX, orb VFX, etc). Expect continual improvements over time, we are a live service and always want to make the experience better.”
I really like Riot’s stand on this one. Watering down their entire experience to please the general audience just isn’t going to cut it in esports. You have to establish a niche and stick to it. I also love the term “black licorice” culture. Some people are gonna love it and some people won’t ever touch it, and that’s okay.
Make sure to give a read of the entire interview on Eurogamer for more!