Riot Games have outlined their strategy for their next five years, saying they think of themselves “not as a games company but as a gamer’s company.” The lengthy post, credited to Riot CEO Nicolo Laurent, outlines not what they specifically intend to make, but the kinds of things they want to make and the internal changes designed to make it happen.
The post also acknowledges Riot Games’ recent history, including their settlement last month of a gender discrimination lawsuit stretching back to 2018.
“As we shared with Rioters, three years ago, Riot was at the heart of what became a reckoning in our industry. We’ve come a very long way since then—in our workplace, our processes, and our leadership—and we’ll continue that work every day,” the post reads under a heading titled “Beginning a New Chapter.”
“To be clear, we aren’t asking anyone to forget about this chapter and move on. On the contrary, the lessons we’ve learned together over the last few years will be a crucial part of the Riot Games origin story. Something we’ll continue to teach as part of our ‘denewb’ orientation and lessons that we’ll use to always orient ourselves toward what is right for Rioters to make Riot the best possible place to work.”
The post makes no mention of the lawsuit brought against Laurent himself last year by a former assistant for alleged discrimination. Riot’s own investigation allegedly found “no evidence” of harassment.
The rest of the Laurent’s post outlines what Riot want to achieve. It’s a lot of corpspeak about being “bold” and ‘redefining’ fandom and so on. The concrete parts of it are that Riot want to make more games, that they want to make more than games by also producing more esports, TV shows (like Arcane), movies and events, and that they’ve restructured the company into different “pillars” to make that happen.
It also includes a lot of changes that directly impact staff. Employees will need to return to office three days a week once its safe to do so, for example, with two “flex” days where they can choose to work from home.
Riot are also offering new bonus programs for employees, and temporarily expanding Queue Dodge, a program that allows Riot staff to quit and be paid 25% of their base annual salary and 3 months of benefits. “No one should feel any pressure to stay or leave Riot. Whatever they decide is the right decision for them,” says the post. “If they’re excited about what’s next and want to stay at Riot, that’s great. If they’re hesitating and this package makes it easier for them to leave, that’s cool too.”
I am immensely cynical. The post is wall-to-wall corporate PR, designed to appeal to players and employees, and to frame an appaling company culture that produced multiple allegations of harassment and abuse as “some painful losses” that Riot have learned from and overcome. Perhaps this is true and working at Riot is now sunshine and lollipops, but I wouldn’t take a publicly-shared CEO message’s word for it.
If you’re a fan of Riot’s games, it is at least a commitment to keep serving you more of what you like – whether that’s continued support for those same games, new spin-off games, a tie-in “cinematic universe”, events, or merch. As more of a Valve fan, I’ll admit it sounds better than living on the occasional GEICO insurance advert.