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As the world economy experiences inflation, increase in cost of living, and higher interest rates, one of the important topics has been the cost-cutting of businesses and drying up of investor money, especially in the tech and gaming sectors. Riot Games, despite being the developer for the largest games in the world - namely League of Legends and VALORANT, was not immune to this as it announces layoffs for around 530 employees globally.
Check out the full news below with our summary and the original posts from Riot Games that addresses the players and employees separately.
- The announcement was made into two separate posts, addressing the employees and their players at the same time.
- Employees will receive support such as severance package of 6 months, 100% of annual bonus, health insurance, and continued email access.
- Current popular games such as League of Legends and VALORANT will be the focus of investment.
- Less popular games such as Legends of Runeterra will have its resources further reduced and the Riot Forge program will be ending.
- Early February, a product focused RiotNow will be held to get deeper into the Riot Games portfolio and to discuss and plans ahead for 2024.
- No direct news on the development on the highly-anticipated MMORPG.
An Important Update about Riot's Future
Today, I’m sharing a decision we hoped we would never have to make at Riot. We’re changing some of the bets we’ve made and shifting how we work across the company to create focus and move us toward a more sustainable future. This decision means we’re eliminating about 530 roles globally, which represents around 11% of our workforce, with the biggest impact to teams outside of core development. This also sadly means we’ll be saying goodbye to many talented colleagues and friends across all areas of Riot.
I realize this is awful news to hear, and especially hard for those who will be leaving us. To all the Rioters who are being laid off, we are deeply sorry that it has come to this.
As CEO, I’m accountable for the changes we’re making and where we’re headed in the future. So, I think it’s important for me to share how we got here and how the next few days will work.
How we got here.
Since 2019, we’ve made a number of big bets across the company with the goal of making it better to be a player. We jumped headfirst into creating new experiences and broadening our portfolio, and grew quickly as we became a multi-game, multi-experience company — expanding our global footprint, changing our operating model, bringing in new talent to match our ambitions, and ultimately doubling the size of Riot in just a few years.
Today, we’re a company without a sharp enough focus, and simply put, we have too many things underway. Some of the significant investments we’ve made aren’t paying off the way we expected them to. Our costs have grown to the point where they’re unsustainable, and we’ve left ourselves with no room for experimentation or failure – which is vital to a creative company like ours. All of this puts the core of our business at risk.
Over the past several months, we’ve tried to alter our trajectory in many different ways. We asked leaders to make tradeoffs in the things their teams are working on. We rolled out hiring slowdowns, and in some cases hiring freezes. We put an emphasis on controlling costs while strengthening our revenue growth. All of which has without a doubt been tough for our teams.
But as I’ve dug in with leaders across Riot, it’s become clear to all of us that these changes aren’t enough. We have to do more to focus our business and center our efforts on the things that drive the most player value – the things that are truly worth players’ time. Unfortunately, this involves making changes in the area where we invest the most — our headcount.
I want to be super clear about something: this is absolutely the last thing we ever wanted to do. A decision like this has a massive impact on people’s lives and on the culture of Riot. We’re not doing this to appease shareholders or to hit some quarterly earnings number – we’ve made this decision because it’s a necessity. It's what we need to do in order to maintain a long-term focus for players.
How this will work.
There is no perfect way to do a layoff, but our guiding principle is to do our very best to make sure we’re treating Rioters with respect and grace. We want those who are leaving us to feel supported in this difficult moment. This starts with limiting the time they spend in ambiguity about their role and future with Riot, wherever possible.
Within the next hour, Rioters around the world will receive an email informing them whether or not their role is, or may be, impacted. This isn’t the usual way we do things, but we wanted to optimize for letting people know as soon as possible, and that’s tough to do at our scale without using email.
Shortly after, every Rioter whose role is or may be impacted will get a calendar invite to meet with their Senior Leader and People team partner and discuss next steps within 48 hours. There's a wide range of local employment processes that have to be followed in situations like these. So, while these meetings will be completed this week in the US, it may take several weeks to finish them around the world as we follow local laws and regulations.
Rioters whose roles are going away, and who aren’t moving into new positions, will be offered:
- Severance Pay — We’ll offer a minimum 6 months of salary, which includes notice period for all Rioters whose roles are going away, and more for those with longer tenure, in line with local laws.
- Cash Bonus — We’ll offer a cash bonus equal to 1x (100% of) everyone’s individual 2023 Annual Performance Bonus (APB) target, even if Rioters joined within the last year.
- Health Benefits — In locations where Riot provides healthcare, Rioters covered by our health benefits will continue to be covered through their last day of employment. In addition, they’ll be offered additional pay to cover their health benefits (medical, dental and vision), equal to the length of severance pay, and rounded up to the whole month.
- Play Fund, Wellness Fund, etc. — We know Rioters may have planned future expenses that would normally be covered by things like the Play Fund & Wellness Fund, so we’re offering an additional $1000 (or local equivalent) to cover these and other types of expenses.
- Equity — Rioters who have received Riot shares from vesting their single-vesting RSUs will get to keep them, subject to their terms and conditions. This also applies to other vested instruments (like options, or cash-settled SARs in certain jurisdictions such as China). In the event of a future buyback opportunity, we intend to allow these former Rioters to participate. Rioters who hold dual-vesting equity, who have satisfied the service-based vesting component at the time of exit, will be able to vest their equity in the event we have a qualifying liquidity event (like a change-in-control transaction) within the next 12 months.
- Computer — A laptop is an essential part of finding new work, so after returning their work computers, Rioters will have the option to request a laptop from IT if they don’t have one at home. They can keep their current peripherals like their headset, mouse, and keyboard.
- Career Support — Rioters will have immediate access to job placement services for 6 months including, career coaching, networking, resume writing and review, and more to help them transition to a new job.
- Rioter Assistance Program — Rioters will continue to have access to RAP 24/7 for three months after they leave Riot which includes trained counselors who can help with emotional, legal, and financial concerns. In addition, enhanced employee assistance programs (including mental health benefits) will be accessible in a number of locations worldwide. Our local HRBPs will provide information about these programs as available.
- Visa Support — We know this change will be particularly challenging for Rioters who hold visas as part of their employment with Riot. Each situation is unique, and we have dedicated support lined up for those who need it. This includes supporting transitions to non-employment visas where possible. Our Global Mobility team and outside immigration consultants will be in touch with impacted Rioters ASAP to discuss their individual situations.
- Riot Email Access — Rather than immediately cut off email access, which is more common in these moments, we will continue to provide access to impacted Rioters for a limited time after notification (this will vary by region). We want to make sure Rioters who are leaving us this week have a bit of time to identify and unwind any personal info or accounts that may be tied to their Riot email addresses.
We’re not expecting this to be a normal, “business as usual” week for us. We’re asking everyone to cancel meetings and rituals over the next few days where possible as we move through these changes together. Also, if you’re at one of our US offices now, we ask that you head home for the rest of the day and work remotely through Wednesday. If you need to come into the office on those days, please respect those who may be having difficult conversations and give them space to process.
What this means for our portfolio.
Let me start by saying we’re as committed as ever to League PC, VALORANT, TFT, Wild Rift, and to exploration in R&D. In some cases, we’re reshaping our portfolio and teams to develop these games more effectively, but you can expect these to be areas where we continue to invest. Our commitment to esports and entertainment in support of our games is also unchanged. The relationships we have with players are a real differentiator for us, so we’ll continue building the experiences in and around our games that have a meaningful impact on what it feels like to be a player.
While it's the normal course of business for us to spin projects up and down, we also need to make hard choices when our bets aren’t performing as well as we hoped. We’re making adjustments to some of our R&D efforts across games, esports, and entertainment. We’re also re-thinking the level of support we demand from our enterprise teams. And we’ve made two decisions about our current games portfolio that we want to share with you now. We plan to announce these to players shortly.
- As Legends of Runeterra continues its journey, we’re making changes to move the game toward sustainability. We know there’s a passionate community who absolutely love this game, and we do too. However, it hasn't performed as well as we need it to, despite our best efforts. We’ve been subsidizing the cost of development on LoR through our other games, but at this point, that’s just not a viable option. So, we’re reducing the size of the team and shifting our focus to the 'Path of Champions' PvE game mode.
- In addition, we’re sunsetting Riot Forge after the upcoming release of Bandle Tale. Forge has been our collaboration with external studios to develop smaller scale games in our IP. While we’re proud of what we’ve created in this space, and we’re grateful for the Forge team and for our external partners who made these games happen, we don’t view this as core to our strategy moving forward. We aren’t closing the door entirely on single-player experiences or working with other developers if the right project comes along, but we would want it to look pretty different in the future.
In early February, we’ll be holding a product focused RiotNow to get deeper into our portfolio and to discuss some of our plans for players in 2024.
The path forward.
There’s no way around the fact that this is an extremely sad moment. For those who are leaving… I want to reiterate, we are deeply sorry for the impact this has on you and your family. I can’t thank you enough for everything you’ve done for Riot, and for your dedication to players. We’re committed to doing our best to support you in this moment and through this transition.
For those who are staying, I know this is a difficult time for you too. You’re not only losing coworkers and friends, but you may also feel uncertain about the road ahead. I want to assure you that our vision for the future remains ambitious – we will not lose our desire to dream for players, and as hard as this moment may be, we will emerge from it in a stronger place. I’m confident that by creating focus together, thinking long-term and operating as One Riot, we’ll be able to truly make it better to be a player.
While we’d love for this news to remain within our virtual walls, we know that’s not realistic; there are many members of our global community who care deeply about the people who make and support their favorite games. With that in mind, I’m going to share this email publicly on riotgames.com in the hopes that it answers most of their questions so you don’t have to.
We’re going to hold a Riot WW Town Hall on Thursday to give more context into this moment as well as portfolio changes we’ve made. Until then, I’d like to reiterate my deep gratitude to all the Rioters who are leaving. Your passion and commitment has been felt by the people around you and the millions of players we serve.
Changes at Riot and the Road Ahead
Minutes ago, we shared with Rioters that we are refocusing on fewer, high-impact projects to move us toward a more sustainable future. Now, we want to tell you what these changes mean for our games, everything around them (esports, Arcane, music, etc.), and what to expect going forward.
For most of our history, we’ve managed to avoid days like this, but this decision is critical for the future of Riot. This isn’t to appease shareholders or to hit a quarterly earnings number—it’s a necessity. Over the past few years, as Riot more than doubled in headcount, we spread our efforts across more and more projects without sharp enough razors to decide what players needed most. The adjustments we're making aim to focus us on the areas that have the greatest impact on your experience while reducing investment on things that don’t.
This means we’re eliminating about 530 roles globally, which represents around 11% of Rioters, with the biggest impact to teams outside of core development. We recognize that many of you don’t just care about the games you play, but also about the people who make them. These are not just organizational changes; they affect individuals and families, and we do our best to approach these decisions with respect and sensitivity. If you’d like to read the email we sent to Rioters, we’ve shared it here.
Doubling Down on Games at the Center
With today’s moves, we’re going back to putting games at the center of everything we do.
Our vision for the future is bold and our commitment to our core live games – League of Legends, VALORANT, Teamfight Tactics, and Wild Rift – is more ambitious than ever. We're prioritizing these teams so they can focus on the content, features, and updates that directly respond to what you’ve been asking for. Expect events, modes, and long-term roadmaps that lead to vibrant (hopefully multi-decade) futures for these games.
Our strategy will more tightly integrate esports, music, and entertainment with our games. Esports isn't just about competition; it's about the highs, the lows, and the communities that flourish around the games. Entertainment isn't just about storytelling; it's a gateway to the deeper narratives, characters, and worlds that enrich the game experience. As we’ve grown, some of our efforts have become more isolated, and we aspire to more seamlessly blend gameplay, competitive excellence, and narrative depth in ways that truly make it better to be a player. Whether it’s the next hit from K/DA, the story unfolding in Arcane, the intensity of a TFT Open, the one-of-a-kind chills of a Worlds game 5, or the electric atmosphere of VAL Champs, our focus is on quality, impact, and unified experiences for players around the world.
Beyond live titles, we have projects in the pipeline that we can’t wait to get to you when they’re ready. Project L has been making great progress and we’re looking for more opportunities for you to try out the game (stay tuned for more updates coming later this year). Arcane Season 2 is on track for November 2024. Plus, we have a number of projects cooking in various stages of R&D.
Our volume of releases will never be massive. We want everything we deliver to be something that you can be proud of and excited to share with friends. That requires having financial flexibility to be able to take the time to make things that are truly great for players. We know we’ll still have occasional misses, but we want those misses to be for the right reasons, not because we prioritized the wrong things or had to rush projects out the door before they were ready.
Legends of Runeterra and Riot Forge
We want to specifically address two areas where you’ll see immediate impact from today’s changes: Legends of Runeterra and Riot Forge.
- As LoR continues its journey, we’re making changes to move the game toward sustainability. We know there’s a passionate community who absolutely love this game—we do too. Despite critical achievements and the role it’s played in helping to build out the world of Runeterra, LoR has faced financial challenges since launch, costing significantly more to develop and support than it generates. In response, we're reducing the size of our team and renewing our focus on The Path of Champions. This shift allows the team to experiment more in the PvE space, concentrating on the game mode where players have been spending the most time. The LoR team has more details here, and we have a video planned for the coming weeks to talk more about the future.
- We’re ending new game development under Riot Forge after the upcoming release of Bandle Tale: A League of Legends Story. Forge was an experiment to see what would happen when Rioters partnered with their favorite indie devs and let them loose on Runeterra with their unique viewpoints, styles, and expertise. Across six titles spanning different game genres, regions, and characters, it’s been inspiring to see what these devs created in partnership with the Forge team. We’re proud of what we’ve done together to bring these stories to life, but it’s time to refocus our efforts on the ambitious projects underway internally at Riot.
The Journey Ahead with You
Our strategy moving forward is clear: we’re honing in on what we do best and what resonates most with you. Every endeavor, from development to storytelling to competition, will be crafted to deliver meaningful, memorable experiences with games at the center.
While change can bring uncertainty, it also presents opportunities for growth and innovation. We’re grateful for your ongoing support; nothing Riot has ever created would be possible without you. Your passion and engagement inspire us every day, and we’re excited to continue this journey together.
Dylan & MarcRiot Games