How Will the Riot Games Layoffs Affect League of Legends


League of Legends wallpaper.
Credit: Riot Games

The gaming community has been dealt another blow with Riot Games' announcement of layoffs affecting approximately 530 employees, or 11% of its global workforce. The move, according to CEO A. Dylan Jadeja, is a necessary step towards a "more sustainable future" and will involve a refocus on "fewer, high-impact projects."

Based on the official letter to players, the layoffs aren't about “appeasing shareholders”, but rather a “necessity”. Jadeja emphasises that core titles like League of Legends, Valorant, and Teamfight Tactics will now take priority, while projects like Legends of Runeterra and Riot Forge will face reductions. Let's delve into what this means for League of Legends specifically.

League of Legends gameplay becomes a priority

Jadeja explains that "over the past few years, as Riot more than doubled in headcount, we spread our efforts across more and more projects without sharp enough focus on what players needed most." This, he says, led to unsustainable costs.

He assures players that the layoffs will result in increased focus and commitment to their core live games, including Valorant, Teamfight Tactics, Wild Rift, and, of course, League of Legends. These teams will prioritise content, features, and updates directly responding to player feedback.

A screenshot from the "Still Here | Season 2024 Cinematic - League of Legends (ft. Forts, Tiffany Aris, and 2WEI)" YouTube video.
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Credit: Riot Games

Therefore, players can expect events, modes, and long-term roadmaps designed to cultivate “vibrant futures” for League of Legends, ideally spanning “multiple decades”. As these layoffs primarily impacted teams "outside core development", players should not anticipate significant changes to their immediate gaming experience.

However, while this message aims to be optimistic, players remain sceptical, especially considering the loss of many talented individuals who contributed significantly and directly to League of Legends' development. Concerns linger about future content potentially falling short of expectations and lacking the same spark and quality.

Runterra lore takes a backseat

For many players, League of Legends' champions and their stories, further explored in the acclaimed animated series Arcane, are a major draw. The recent season start cinematic's success underscores the interest in the lore of Runeterra and is a testimony to the inextricable connection between players and their favourite champions.

A screenshot from the "Still Here | Season 2024 Cinematic - League of Legends (ft. Forts, Tiffany Aris, and 2WEI)" YouTube video.
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Credit: Riot Games

However, many creatives were impacted by the layoffs, including talented narrative writers and artists who have dedicated their heart and soul to the game, casting a shadow of doubt over Riot’s commitment to “seamlessly blend gameplay, competitive excellence, and narrative depth”. Some perceive this as prioritising gameplay over narrative, as it doesn't directly “drive player value”.

Furthermore, the team behind the beloved League of Legends card game, Legends of Runeterra, is being downsized. A critical source for champion lore, fans are dismayed to find out that there will be a shift in focus, leading to a decrease in content surrounding worldbuilding. Additionally, Riot Forge, which produced five League-related titles with smaller studios, will shut down after releasing the upcoming title Bandle Tale.

With fewer avenues to explore the stories of Runeterra, the League of Legends universe will likely shrink, disappointing many fans.

The gaming community is still grappling with this news, and many are showing their love and support for the affected Rioters. To raise awareness and show solidarity, some players suggest a community-driven strike on 11 February, encouraging others to refrain from playing Riot games for the day.

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