Riot Games, the Tencent-owned publisher and developer responsible for the global phenomenon League of Legends plus a whole empire of eSports, spin-off games, music, TV and more, has just announced a reduction of its workforce by 11% – cutting around 530 jobs in total. Riot Forge, the label that produced a number of smaller, indie-adjacent titles set within the League of Legends universe in collaboration with external talent (like Song of Nunu, which we loved), will also be dissolved entirely.
Riot Games CEO Dylan Jadeja announced the layoffs in an open letter where he expressed the extent and scope of the changes, how things got to a point where the company decided this was the next move, and how it’ll all be rolled out.
“Rioters,” the message starts.
“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 realise 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.”
Jadeja then describes the company’s challenges as the result of a number of “big bets” made since 2019, including rapid global expansion, broadening of its portfolio and changes in its operating model. “Some of the significant investments we’ve made aren’t paying off the way we expected them to, he adds. “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.”
The CEO says that after attempts at reducing the company’s costs over a matter of months, it was ultimately decided by the leadership team that reducing the overall headcount (as opposed to, say, those same leadership/executive teams taking pay cuts) was the way forward.
Naturally it’s disappointing to see yet more layoffs as a result of the drive for massive corporate growth, and that what’s been a relentless series of these same stories can seemingly touch even the most lucrative and seemingly infallible corners of the industry.
Already, parts of the Riot community are pushing for strikes from playing Riot games to show solidarity for the workers who’ve been let go:
To raise awareness and show solidarity for the hard working Rioters who lost their jobs today I'd like to suggest rallying the community to go on strike on the 11th of February and not playing any Riot games for the day. One collective fistbump to show Riot what community means! pic.twitter.com/se74A3Kl49