Riot Games, the publisher-developer company behind League of Legends, has announced that it is laying off 530 employees. Plus, it’s ending new game development under its Riot Forge arm, which produced third-party-developed games with the “A League of Legends Story” tag, like Ruined King, The Mageseeker, Song of Nunu, and the upcoming Bandle Tale, which will be the last in this line of releases.
As for why, Riot CEO Dylan Jadeja and co-founder and chief product officer Marc Merrill sight the need to “move us toward a more sustainable future” in the announcement post released on January 22.
“Minutes ago, we shared with Rioters that we are focusing on fewer, high-impact projects to move us toward a more sustainable future,” it reads. “Now, we want to tell you what these changes mean for our games, everything around them (esports, Arcane, music, etc.), and what to expect going forward.
“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. 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. The adjustments we’re making aim to focus us on the areas that have the greatest impact on your experience while reducing investment on things that don’t.
“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 just care about the games you play, but also about the people who make them. These are not just organizational changes; they affect individuals and families, and we do our best to approach these decisions with respect and sensitivity. If you’d like to read the email we sent to Rioters, we’ve shared it here.”
In that email, Riot says it’s a company without a sharp enough focus with too many things underway. It says some of the significant investments it’s made aren’t paying off the way the company expected them too, and “our costs have grown to the point where they’re unsustainable.” It also says Riot has left itself with no room for experimentation or failure, putting the core of the business at risk. Despite attempts, Riot apparently made to cut costs and fix this, according to that email, “it’s become clear to all of us that these changes aren’t enough,” which is why the company has turned to making 530 people jobless.
The email also shares details about severance pay, cash bonuses, health benefits, and more that those affected will receive.
Moving forward, Riot says it’s putting games back at the center of everything it does, committing to League of Legends, Valorant, Teamfight Tactics, Wild Rift, and the in-development fighting game, Project L. As previously mentioned, Riot Forge development will end with Bandle Tale, which is due out sometime this year. Riot also says Legends of Runeterra’s development team will be reduced with a renewed focus on The Path of Champions to allow the team to experiment more in the PvE space, which it says is where players spend the most time.
These Riot layoffs join a string of other disheartening 2024 job cuts, which total more than 3,500. We recently learned that Lords of the Fallen publisher CI Games was laying off 10 percent of its staff, that Unity would be laying off 1,800 people by the end of March, and that Twitch had laid off 500 employees. We also learned that Discord has laid off 170 employees, that layoffs happened at PTW, a support studio that’s worked with companies like Blizzard and Capcom, and that SteamWorld Build company, Thunderful Group, let go of roughly 100 people. Dead by Daylight developer Behaviour Interactive has also reportedly laid off 45 people, too.
Last year, more than 10,000 people in the games industry or game-adjacent industries were laid off.
Striking Distance Studios, the team behind 2022’s The Callisto Protocol, laid off more than 30 employees in August of 2023. That same month, Mass Effect and Dragon Age developer BioWare laid off 50 employees, including long-time studio veterans. The following month, in September, Immortals of Aveum developer Ascendant Studios laid off roughly 45% of its staff, and Fortnite developer Epic Games laid off 830 employees.
In October of last year, The Last of Us developer Naughty Dog laid off at least 25 employees, and Telltale Games also underwent layoffs, although an actual number of affected employees has not yet been revealed. Dreams developer Media Molecule laid off 20 employees in late October.
In November, Amazon Games laid off 180 staff members, Ubisoft laid off more than 100 employees, Bungie laid off roughly 100 developers, and 505 Games’ parent company, Digital Bros, laid off 30% of its staff.
In December, Embracer Group closed its reformed TimeSplitters studio, Free Radical Design, and earlier in the year, Embracer closed Saints Row developer Volition Games, a studio with more than 30 years of development history. A few weeks before the winter holidays, Dungeons & Dragons and Magic: The Gathering owner Hasbro laid off 1,100 employees.
The games industry will surely feel the effects of such horrific layoffs for years to come. The hearts of the Game Informer staff are with everyone who’s been affected by layoffs or closures.