Riot Games is threatening League of Legends fan project Chronoshift with legal action over its attempt at a legacy server for the game. That’s after Riot reportedly sent one of its security team members, called Zed, after Chronoshift’s developer, in an exchange that was leaked online and went viral on social media.
Chronoshift’s developer intended to remake an old version of League of Legends, as if it was still the same game it was 10 years ago — along the same lines as World of Warcraft Classic. Very little, if anything, exists from this time period in League of Legends today. Much like the Ship of Theseus, the constant patches, updates, and visual reworks in League of Legends have removed old champions and mechanics entirely. A Riot employee originally reached out to the Chronoshift developer a year ago, through a comment on Reddit, asking the development team not to move forward with the project.
“We have very simple and easy to read policies around developing products around Riot Games,” the Riot representative said at the time. “Please read the Legal Jibber Jabber (yes that’s what it’s called) and the policies on developer.riotgames.com.”
A year later, Riot Games decided to to take further action, reportedly by security team member Zed reaching out to the Chronoshift folks. That interaction didn’t go well, and when the conversation was leaked on the League of Legends subredddit, it went viral. Screenshots showed a conversation between Zed — who said his job was to “find people and things” — and a Chronoshift developer. The conversation went viral due to Zed’s threatening and unprofessional approach to squashing the project, and including a few quippy lines.
“You’ve obviously put a lot of work into Chrono shift, but I assure you that the Chrono break is coming,” Zed wrote.
A Riot representative confirmed that Zed is indeed a member of the Riot team, and provided Polygon with the following statement:
First, to confirm a couple details, on Monday our legal counsel sent the Chronoshift development team a letter formally requesting they cease development on the project. This follows an explicit request our developer relations team made a year ago when the project was first announced. Our stance on projects such as Chronoshift is also explicitly called out in section 3 of our legal guidelines. We understand the Chronoshift team is disappointed, but they shouldn’t be surprised by our request.
Regarding the exchange with Riot Zed, we’re disappointed with the tenor of the conversation and we’ll be addressing this internally. 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.
We fully expect this to make new memes and copypasta and totally deserve it all, so put it on the shelf right next to ‘200 years’ and all the others.
Since a couple people have asked about whether this suggests a ‘League Classic’ is in the works, never say never but we’ve addressed this in the past and afaik our stance is the same: https://nexus.leagueoflegends.com/en-us/2017/05/ask-riot-classic-mode/
The Chronoshift team characterized the takedown as a bad-faith effort on Riot’s part. A representative from the team told Polygon that Chronoshift had never been accessible to the public, and that the team did not pursue publicity or money during the course of development. The team’s statement is below:
We’d like to clarify some details about the project, since a lot of the information currently being spread paints a somewhat incomplete picture.
Chronoshift was at no point accessible to the public. The project was still in a Closed Beta development phase, with only a small number of selected individuals from the community being granted access for the explicit purpose of helping us check for, diagnose and fix problems. After 4 years of completely private development, this started to become necessary, since we are not able to test full games if there aren’t enough people to play them. All footage you can find on youtube is uploaded gameplay by the testers from the more free-play oriented testing sessions. Besides the very first Reddit post a year ago announcing the project and looking for people interested in helping us test and develop, we have made very little attempt to gain any publicity.
We’ve read a lot of misinformation about us “stealing” things and “using them as our own”. The game client for old versions of League of Legends is publicly available for download from Riot Games CDN to this very minute. Anyone can download it for themselves, without our involvement, after a simple search on Google. All of our testers were required to do so. Different communities have made various tools to make this process more user-friendly, long before Chronoshift was even conceived. This client of course contains any and all files needed to play a specific version of League of Legends like models, textures, animations, sounds etc. None of these were provided, distributed or modified by us in any way.
Notably it also provides the user the functionality to connect to any server they choose via an IP address, without any sort of modification. A player asking their client to connect to an unofficial server like Chronoshift may violate a specific section in Riots TOS. People on the testing team were aware of this, and made an informed decision. Official Riot representatives like “Riot Zed” certainly don’t seem to think much of it when they are ones doing it - they casually made use of the “Better Discord” plugin to “find people and things” like the hidden channels on our server - which violates Discords TOS.
People have asked us to accept donations time and time again, and we received a large amount of bribery attempts from people trying to buy access to the project - the largest sum offered was $800 for a slot on the testing team. It goes without saying that we declined any and all of these offers. Real-money content like skins was of course also made unavailable to testers.
We feel like we made as much of as good-faith attempt to respect both the letter of the law and boundaries with Riot Games as much as is possible with a project like this. While we do understand and recognize that Riot Games has the full right to push for a legal resolution regarding this project, we are incredibly disappointed by the way they chose to handle the situation. We aimed to show that there is a place in the world and huge interest and potential for these old versions of the game, to another developer that felt a variant of “You think you do, but you don’t”. We were always open to a conversation about the future of the project - granted it extended past “give us your code or we will sue you”. There were plenty of possible avenues for cooperation, instead of this unproductive hostility. The hope was on Riot to recognize the potential of something this difficult to recreate for a team this small, brought to life out of passion for a game over a decade old that people have been asking to experience again for many years now.
The only direct contact we did get was with someone communicating in a way so unprofessional that made everyone assume this was another scam attempt to get a hold of the project, not an official representative of Riot Games. You have probably read the word “disappointed” often enough the last few days, but that is the feeling the team is left with.
Our finishing thoughts go out to all the people that helped us in testing and development, and displayed tremendous passion for the project.
The conversation around fan-made games has always been complicated, and many people see these sorts of takedowns as a tone-deaf corporation stomping a project made by a game’s most passionate fans. However, in this case, the greater question of which projects should be allowed to exist, even without permission, is being washed away by a sea of memes and dunks, thanks to an ill-advised Discord conversation.