Chronoshift was a fan-made "legacy server" that recreated League Of Legends as it was ten years ago, letting people play an older version of the game that's no longer accessible.
Now the project has been shut down by Riot. In a post on the Chronoshift website, its developers say they've received legal takedown notices from the LoL developer, but only after a Riot staffer got in touch with one of them via Discord to attempt to shut down the project without the involvement of lawyers. To quote the Riot employee: "You've obviously put a lot of work into Chrono shift, but I assure you that the Chrono break is coming."
At the time of writing, the Chronoshift website is prompting a warning in Chrome that the site is insecure. Last night, the site had been taken down and replaced by a message from the development team explaining the project's closure and alleging that the "Riot Games security department has contacted us, and tried to extort us into handing over our code and website to them". A Riot rep confirmed to PC Gamer that the conversation took place but denied extortion.
The Chronoshift dev message included a link to an image showing the Discord conversation between Chronoshift developer 'Lord Lothendran' and 'zed', who identifies themselves via an email as a member of "the Riot Games Security team".
In the Discord conversation, zed begins by saying that, "The Riot Games legal team isn't super thrilled about your project unfortunately and is looking for a way to come to a mutually acceptable end to it." The conversation continues amicably for a scant few messages, until it seems as if Lothendran or another Chronoshift developer starts to delete things from the Discord server. Zed's tone noticeably shifts at this point. (You can read the full chat by clicking the image to the right.)
"I admire the effort to cleanse your channels [Lothendran's real name], but I'll be real with you that's making me think you don't have a ton of interest in cooperating," they say. "We archived all your messages long before you nuked the channel. You can delete the 'private' channels too if you like (you know, mod-chat, backend-todo, game-issues-archived, old_videos, etc) but I'd prefer you didn't since it really won't do you any good anyway. You've obviously put a lot of work into Chrono shift, but I assure you that the Chrono break is coming."
Lothendran refers the use of their real name as "scare tactics", and Zed goes on to make specific demands. They asks that Lord Lothendran hand over the chronoshift.dev website to Riot, hand over all source code, and tell them all identifiable information they and another developer had shared with one another.
"Give me what I'm looking for and we won't sue. Refuse and we will," writes Zed. Some of Zed's other messages read as, frankly, creepy. "I'm on the security team. I find people and things," they say at one point. The Riot rep told PC Gamer that they were "disappointed with the tenor of the conversation," and that they would be addressing it internally.
The note from Chronoshift's creators had expressed their disappointment at the project being shut down. "To our best knowledge, and the assessment of the lawyers specialized in IT copyright we talked the project over with, we have not done anything illegal. We never distributed any copyrighted material - all old game files can still be directly downloaded from Riot's CDN. Chronoshift has not interacted with the live game, or live game accounts, in any way, shape or form."
It's of course not uncommon for fan projects to be shut down by large companies aiming to protect their IP. In 2016 and 2017, Blizzard similarly shut down World Of Warcraft legacy servers, with Blizzard later saying that there was "no clear legal path to protect Blizzard's IP and grant an operating license to a pirate server." They also of course launched World Of Warcraft Classic themselves in 2019.
Riot last commented on the idea of making a "Classic Mode" for League Of Legends four years ago, concluding that it would be difficult and "there is a good chance it’s not worth the development effort that it would take."
We've reached out to Riot Games for comment.