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Riot Games named INC’s Company of the Year

Not too shabby!

American business publication Inc. has named Riot Games the winner of its business of the year award, as announced on its website Tuesday.

The company notes the growing popularity of League of Legends, which has now surpassed 100 million monthly players, in a changing media landscape.

In 2016, media fragmentation finally started wounding some long-impervious institutions. The National Football League's viewership fell by double digits. ESPN posted its biggest quarterly subscriber loss ever. Our attention spans are now so short that media successes are measured in brief spasms--Snapchats viewed, Pokémon caught. League of Legends provided a juggernaut of a counter­example. Each game demands 30 to 60 minutes of players' undivided attention. The average player spends 30 hours a month on the game--that's three billion player-hours each month.

When Riot co-founders Brandon Beck and Marc Merrill talked to Polygon’s Phil Kollar a few months ago, Beck said they didn’t expect the game to become popular because they were trying to appeal to a specific niche. Inc sees that as representative of how media consumption is changing:

LoL is not mass market. LoL is one massive niche. And as the world continues to fragment and consumers spend more of their lives online, more gargantuan niches will rise up just like it--with deeply passionate, demanding customers who devote large chunks of their lives to a world apart from everyone else. The next great challenge for business is understanding how to reach them and talk to them, and Riot is out on those frontlines.

This isn’t the first time Riot has been recognized in the business realm. In both 2015 and 2016, Riot was placed on Fortune’s top list of companies to work for.

Past winners of Inc’s award have included Slack in 2015 and Airbnb in 2014.