Riot Games has just hired Greg “Ghostcrawler’ Street as the new Lead Designer for the world’s most popular game, League of Legends. Street spent a decade working on the Age of Empires team, but is most well known for his role as Lead Systems Designer for World of Warcraft.
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In his role at Activision-Blizzard, Street was responsible for many in-game balance changes, and as various classes, spells or items were nerfed or buffed, Street shouldered much of the heat for controversial decisions. As such, his new role at Riot Games is being met with some degree of skepticism by those who didn’t appreciate his work on WoW.
Street left Blizzard in November, saying that he was going to pursue unspecified new opportunities. Those were made clear when his LinkedIn profile revealed his new role as Lead Game Designer for League of Legends, a position confirmed by the old lead designer, Riot’s Ryan “Morello” Scott.
Morello responded to questions about Street’s new role, including whether or not he was being replaced:
“Nah – League’s a huge game and there’s a lot to do. GC’s actually some MUCH-needed help on the leadership side – it’s just too much for any one person to handle and make the progress I’d like to see. We’ll be dividing up some of the effort on leading it, but other than making sure more things have support, the teams are pretty unchanged from who’s doing want (Statikk and friends are still doing Game Health, Meddler still heads champ development, we just have more expertise to draw on now).”
League of Legends undergoes major overhauls with each new season, and season four appears to be bringing some of the biggest changes to the game so far. The game also has many, many periodic balance chances throughout the year, as gameplay elements or specific champions are deemed over or underpowered. Street will now big a big factor in these balance decisions, if not the biggest. Again, this has sparked various fan reactions based on what each thought of him during his WoW tenure.
It’s an incredibly important role for what remains the biggest game in the world. The free-to-play League boasts over 30M monthly players at last count, dwarfing former king and Street’s old employer, World of Warcraft, currently at somewhere around 7M or so monthly players. Though it should be noted those are all paid subscribers shelling out $15 a month, so WoW could still be considered more valuable, even as it loses players (and Lead Systems Designers).
It’s also interesting to note that Blizzard is coming out with their own free-to-play MOBA, Heroes of the Storm, to directly compete with League of Legends at some point. It’ll be fun to see those two go head to head, particularly with an ex-Blizzard fixture like Ghostcrawler now at Riot.