Riot Games cuts more than 500 jobs

Image: The Verge

After last year saw over 9,000 layoffs in the video game industry, 2024 is continuing the trend, and League of Legends maker Riot Games is the latest example. On Monday night, the company announced that “we are refocusing on fewer, high-impact projects to move us toward a more sustainable future,” which means eliminating roles for 530 people globally, or about 11 percent of its total workforce.

This news arrives just days after the results of a Game Developers Conference (GDC) survey showed 56 percent of respondents felt layoffs were in store for their studios due in large part to a “post-pandemic course correction.”

“Some of the significant investments we’ve made aren’t paying off the way we expected them to,” said CEO Dylan Jadeja said in a company-wide message, referring to Riot’s 10th-anniversary expansions in 2019 that spread the League of Legends universe across new games and other forms of entertainment. For employees “whose role is or may be impacted,” there will be a meeting with their relevant leads within the next 48 hours, and a minimum of six months of severance pay offered, with more for those who had been with the company longer, as well as other benefits.

What Riot says it’s prioritizing is the core live games it makes, like League of Legends, Valorant, Teamfight Tactics, and Wild Rift, as well as esports and events tied to those titles. Similarly, the still-in-development Project L 2D fighting game with League characters is said to be “making great progress,” and season two of its Arcane TV show for Netflix is on track to come out in November.

The projects directly affected by the changes include Legends of Runeterra, the free-to-play card game announced in 2019 that Jadeja said “hasn’t performed as well as we need it to.” That team is being reduced and focused on the PvE game mode. The other target in Riot’s current gaming portfolio is the Riot Forge publishing label, also announced in 2019, to partner with smaller studios that would create more League-related titles.

With six titles published, including the Netflix mobile exclusive Hextech Mayhem, Riot Forge will shut down after releasing Bandle Tale: A League of Legends Story.

According to Jadeja, the cuts aren’t to appease investors, but instead, “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.” That won’t undo the impact on those directly affected, however, or the chill spreading across the entire industry — a layoff tracker maintained by Kotaku counts over 3,800 jobs lost already in 2024, and it’s still January.

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