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Riot Games president Marc Merrill and CEO Dylan Jadeja released a lengthy post on Monday, January 22, 2024, where the studio executives confirmed the layoff of 530 employees, or 11% of the company’s headcount. The layoff is part of a restructuring process in the company which the executives believe is critical to its survival.

Riot Games Axe 530 Roles In A Decision It Considers “Critical For The Future Of Riot”

“For most of our history, we’ve managed to avoid days like this, but this decision is critical for the future of Riot,” the statement read.

One of the popular opinions in the gaming industry today is that layoffs are fueled by corporate greed, meaning that CEOs and other top executives lay off employees to maintain a steady paycheck and profits for shareholders. However, Riot Games executives explained that it was not the case with their decision.

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“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.”

According to the Riot Games executives, going forward the company wants to focus on areas that it believes have the greatest impact on player experience. Also, the executives want to cut investment in areas they think are not impactful. Employees working in core development will be the least affected.

“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 care about the games you play, but also about the people who make them.”

Riot Games will prioritize gaming going forward

Riot Games Axe 530 Roles In A Decision It Considers “Critical For The Future Of Riot”

In the statement, Riot Games executives revealed that they are more committed and ambitious about their live service games including Wild Rift, Teamfight Tactics, VALORANT, and League of Legends. They said their priority will go towards supporting the teams making these games so that they can “focus on the content, features, and updates” to meet player demands.

“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.”

According to Riot Games executives, esports goes beyond just competitions to encompass the communities built around games. Likewise, they believe entertainment goes beyond storytelling, “it’s a gateway to a deeper narrative, characters, and worlds that enrich the game experience”.

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Riot Games executives also hinted that they have projects in the pipeline—presumably not live service games—that they will reveal when they are ready. One of the games in question has been nicknamed “Project L”. The executives said they will talk more about it later this year.

Arcane Season 2 is planned for launch in November this year. The studio also has several other projects in various stages of research and development. However, don’t expect a massive volume of releases in one calendar year from Riot. The executives said they would rather focus on quality than quantity.

Riot Forge development will be terminated after the upcoming release

Riot Games Axe 530 Roles In A Decision It Considers “Critical For The Future Of Riot”

Riot Games executives pointed out two key areas where fans of the studio will immediately feel the impact of the January 22 announcement. Arguably the saddest was the end to new game development under Riot Forge as soon as Bandle Tale: A League of Legends Story is released.

“Forge was an experiment to see what would happen when Rioter partnered with their favorite indie devs and let them loose on Runeterra with their unique viewpoints, styles, and expertise.”

The second impact of the announcement that will be immediately felt by players of Legends of Runeterra is that Riot Games will subsequently focus on The Path of Champions and scale down the team around the game. According to the executives, the game costs more money to make and support than it generates. The development team will be allowed to experiment with PvE mode where players spend the most time.

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“Our strategy moving forward is clear: we’re honing in on what we do best and what resonates 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.”

Riot Games is promising a bounty package to support affected employees

Riot Games Axe 530 Roles In A Decision It Considers “Critical For The Future Of Riot”

Also attached to the public statement was a link to the internal memo the CEO shared with employees. In the internal memo, the CEO highlighted how the studio plans to support all the employees who would be affected by the layoffs.

The ex-employees will get 6 months of salary as severance pay. Also, Riot Games will “offer a cash bonus equal to 1x(100% of) everyone’s individual 2023 Annual Performance Bonus (APB) target,” even if the employee joined the company last year.

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Other perks that the studio is offering to those impacted by the layoff include health benefits, play fund/wellness fund (including an additional $1,000 or equivalent), equity, a new computer (while they keep peripherals like keyboard, mouse, and headset), career support, access to Rioter Assistance Program, visa support, and limited time Riot email access.

“There is no way around the fact that this is an extremely sad moment,” wrote Jadeja in the internal email.

“For those who are leaving… I want to reiterate, we are deeply sorry for the impact this has on you and your family…. 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….”

Riot Games will hold a Riot WW Town Hall on Thursday, January 25, 2024, to iron out issues arising from the announcement as well as elaborate on the changes that have been made to the studio.

Emecheta Christian

Emecheta Christian is an avid gamer with over 5 years in the industry. He is also a poet. It is therefore not surprising that his post sometimes read like poetry.