Riot “disappointed” by employee conversation with League of Legends fan project

Over the past few days there’s been a fair bit of drama in the League of Legends community: a fan project called Chronoshift, which was making a legacy version of the game, announced it had been sent a series of Discord messages from a Riot Games representative requesting that the project be shut down. Yet what made this particularly remarkable was the tone of that conversation – with employee “Riot Zed” making a series of comments that wouldn’t be out of place in a mob movie like Goodfellas.

Riot has now said it was “disappointed” by how this conversation went down, but the company has repeated its request that development on the fan project be ceased.

Last Friday, a member of the Chronoshift dev team took to Reddit to share a screenshot of a Discord conversation between one of its developers and Riot Zed. In the conversation Zed established that Riot’s legal team wanted the project to be shut down… then things got a little weird. “You’ve obviously put a lot of work into Chrono Shift, but I can assure you Chrono Break is coming,” Zed said in response to the dev team removing some Discord channels. “I’m on the security team. I find people and things,” they later added.

Zed also demanded the developer hand over the Chronoshift website and source code, along with details about communications between dev team members, threatening legal action if the developer didn’t comply.

This obviously didn’t go down too well with the Chronoshift Project team, which said it was “incredibly disappointed” with the way Riot handled the situation. “Instead of opening a conversation about the future and interest in this kind of project, they attempted what could be seen as an attempt to take advantage of our work for free and start taking legal action against us,” one developer said on Reddit. “To our best knowledge, and the assessment of the lawyers specialised in IT copyright we talked the project over with, we have not done anything illegal.

“We have been working on this project for almost five years and thousands of hours,” the post continued. “We never asked for even as much a donation during all of this time, paying all of the expenses out of our pockets. This project has always been about the preservation of the early seasons of the game that cannot be experienced anymore, a time capsule for something long gone that people still express a lot of interest in to this day.”

Following the Discord conversation, the Chronoshift team said it was sent notice by Riot’s lawyers confirming Zed’s request. Riot has now officially confirmed the legitimacy of the shutdown request – but it also highlighted that the Chronoshift team was warned not to continue with the project over a year ago, in a Reddit comment from Riot Gene.

“Yesterday our legal counsel sent the Chronoshift development team a letter formally requesting they cease development on the project,” Riot told Eurogamer. “This follows an explicit request our developer relations team made a year ago when the project was first announced.”

Riot also pointed to section three of its legal guidelines, which prohibits the creation of any unauthorised games or apps that make use of Riot IP. “We understand the Chronoshift team is disappointed, but they shouldn’t be surprised by our request,” Riot added.

As for the interesting messages from Zed, Riot also had something to say about that.

“Regarding the exchange with Riot Zed, we’re disappointed with the tenor of the conversation and we’ll be addressing this internally,” the statement said. “We often attempt good faith reach-outs prior to issuing legal documentation. In this case, however, given the Chronoshift team’s response, we have proceeded through more formal channels.”

So that’s how things ended up: Chronoshift was then contacted by formal legal counsel, and it seems that’s probably the end of the project.

While the Chronoshift team felt that Riot wanted the project’s source code to create an official legacy server, a leaked copy of the letter from Riot’s legal team explains there are other reasons for the procedure. “This is a standard demand made to all developers engaged in unauthorised activity in order to assist Riot’s security team to understand the precise nature of the project, the manner by which it infringes Riot’s intellectual property and other rights, and the extent to which the code has been shared or disseminated online,” the letter explained (via PC Gamer).

It’s a shame that we’ll never see the full version of the legacy server, particularly as it was a non-profit project – but given Riot’s strict rules on the use of its IP, the shutdown isn’t entirely surprising. As for Riot Zed, well, I hope they’ve had a chance to have a cup of tea and calm down a bit.