A red Riot Games sign can be seen to the far left of a big developer building.
Photo via Riot Games

Riot Games hit with mass layoffs: ‘Last thing we ever wanted to do’

A decision made out of necessity, to maintain "a long-term focus for players."

In a letter addressed to players today, Riot Games’ chief executive and founder revealed the company will terminate about 530 roles globally and scale down on some of its projects, including terminating all Riot Forge activities and reducing the size of Legends of Runeterra’s team.

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Over 10 percent of all Riot employees globally will receive a message about their role by the end of the day, factually informing them whether they have been affected by the layoffs or not. The player-facing letter released on Jan. 22 suggested the decision to reduce its workforce is “critical for the future of Riot.”

A man playing a game of League of Legends on a computer
Riot is looking to focus on its flagship titles like League and VALORANT more. Photo via Riot Games

Riot co-founder Marc Merrill and its new chief executive, Dylan Jadeja, shared with millions of players worldwide that moving forward the company will refocus on “fewer, high-impact projects” to move toward a “more sustainable future.”

The company has also publicly shared the letter addressed to its employees, many of whom learned of the situation seemingly at the same time as the public according to what several Rioters have already shared on their social media accounts. The letter recounts how, over the past five years, Riot made “big bets” which led to its doubling in size. However, some of those investments have not been paying off the way Riot expected them to, pushing the company to a corner with “no room for experimentation or failure.”

While Jadeja shared that Riot has tried to avoid this “extremely sad moment,” his letter to all employees also points at some “unsustainable” costs; hiring slowdown and freezes; and “tradeoffs” team leaders were asked to make. When it was clear those changes wouldn’t be enough, Riot needed to cut down in the area where it invested the most: headcounts.

The letter also listed the next steps the company will take with those affected. Meetings and “rituals” will be canceled, while those heading to the offices are asked to be sensible about others who may “be having difficult conversations” there.

The layoffs will immediately impact Legends of Runeterra, which will see its scale reduced drastically, as well as Riot Forge, which will immediately shut down. The Forge “experiment” produced six titles within three years, with the final one expected to be released around a month after today’s announcement.

Both the public and internal letters’ last words expressed gratitude, one towards the players, the other towards the employees who will be leaving in coming weeks.


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Author
Cecilia Ciocchetti
Freelance writer mainly focusing on the League of Legends and VALORANT esports scenes. Sometimes at events interviewing professionals of the scene, from players to the talented people working behind the curtains. You can reach out to me via Twitter.