League of Legends developer Riot Games has announced it’s laying off 530 employees – roughly 11 percent of its total global workforce – saying it’s making the decision as it refocuses on “fewer, high-impact projects to move us toward a more sustainable future.”
In a statement addressing players on its website, Riot – which laid off 46 members of staff in January last year – wrote, “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.”
CEO Dylan Jadeja went into more specific details about the business circumstances leading to today’s layoffs in an email to Riot employees, also shared on the studio’s website. “Since 2019,” he wrote, “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,” he continued, “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.”
Riot says these “changes” will mean around 530 employees lose their jobs globally, “with the biggest impact [being] to teams outside of core development.” The company is also shutting down RiotForge – the initiative that has seen it work with smaller indie studios to develop a number of well-recieved titles based on its IP, including the Ruined King, Song of Nunu, and the upcoming Bandle Tale – and reducing the size of its Legends of Runeterra team.
The latter title, according to Jadeja, “hasn’t performed as well as we need it to, despite our best efforts”. He added it’s no longer a “viable option” to subsidise the cost of development through Riot’s other games, so development will refocus on Runterra’s Path of Champions PvE game mode – said to be the mode “where players have been spending the most time”. The studio also says it’s “prioritising” the League of Legends, Valorant, Teamfight Tactics, and Wild Rift teams – “so they can focus on… content, features, and updates” – and will be adopting strategies that “more tightly integrate esports, music, and entertainment with our games.”
Riot employees affected by today’s layoffs will receive a minimum of six months’ severance pay, a cash bonus equal to 100 percent of individual 2023 Annual Performance Bonuses, health benefits equal to the length of severance pay, $1000 USD to cover expenses that would normally fall within Riot’s Play Fund and Wellness Fund, equity, a laptop to help find work if one isn’t available at home, career support, three months’ access to the Rioter Assistance Program, visa support, and continued use of their Riot email address for a “limited time”.
Today’s job cuts at Riot follow a 2023 blighted by extensive layoffs across the games industry, with the total number of workers affected believed to be around 9,500. Layoffs have sadly continued into 2024; Unity started the year by cutting 1,800 jobs, while the likes of Behaviour Interactive, Twitch, Discord, and the Gearbox-owned studio Lost Boys Interactive have all announced layoffs since then.
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