×

Riot Employees Skeptical About Company Culture Change (Report)

Despite promises of culture change at “League of Legends” developer Riot Games, nearly two dozen current and former employees remain unconvinced, according Kotaku.

Sources tell Kotaku’s Cecilia D’Anastasio they’ve reported multiple men in leadership positions at Riot to the company’s HR or consultants for alleged harassment and other issues, but those men continue to work there.

“In a normal company you’d see people put on leave while investigations happen,” a current employee told the outlet. “You’d expect to see more people stepping down and taking full responsibility. There seems to be a subtext that leadership would very much like to remain in charge. There’s an unspoken assumption that even though they’re the ones who created this mess they should somehow be allowed to stick around and clean it up.”

Scott Gelb is Riot’s chief operating officer and he’s one of the men employees accused of misconduct. Three sources told Kotaku they saw him touching men’s genitals (a.k.a. “ball tapping”). Five reportedly saw him fart near or on male employees. After a while, one person said his behavior “just became normal.”

“The ball grabbing and things like that — that was absolutely well known across the board,” another source said. “Everyone knew who did it. Some people thought it was funny. Some of us looked at it and thought, ‘Uh, is that really how you want to do this?’ But he got promoted. It was well known he did that and no one stopped it.”

Last month, Kotaku published a large feature detailing an eight-month-long investigation into Riot Games’ alleged sexist “bro” culture. Women there claimed they were passed up for promotions, hit on, talked over during meetings, and systematically disadvantaged in general. Riot apologized and promised to change. It’s now working to expand its Diversity & Inclusion Initiative and it’s hired strategy and leadership expert Frances Frei to help with its cultral transformation.

About 30 employees have left Riot over the past month, sources tell Kotaku. While some departures are likely unrelated to the company’s recent troubles, several employees have reportedly “resigned.” Riot is currently working with law firm Seyfarth-Shaw to investigate all of the allegations. The firm apparently has a reputation as a union buster and is considered an expert in class action lawsuits. When asked if this represents a conflict of interest, Riot said, “We are working with Seyfarth Shaw, a highly reputable employment law firm that has a history of working with a variety of clients and cases on both sides of many issues. They will support us and hold us accountable to the promises we’ve made and to the processes we’ve worked with them to build. The firm prioritizes D&I [diversity and inclusion] initiatives, and we believe their values are highly aligned with ours.”

Meanwhile, the company’s president, CEO, and COO said they will step down by the end of 2019 if things don’t improve. Non-Riot board members will apparently make that call. But, some sources tell Kotaku the execs are being overly generous to themselves.

“The people at the top are way too insulated,” said one former employee. “Most people get a three-month PIP [performance improvement plan] before they get fired.”

In a statement, Riot told Kotaku it can’t divulge details about ongoing investigations at the company, but said “cultural evolution” remains its first priority and that “everyone is accountable.”

“We will ensure that we have the right leaders in place to drive the change that we know Riot needs.”

More Gaming

  • Digital games saw 12% growth to

    Digital Games Saw 12% Growth to $113.4 billion in 2018 (Report)

    “Fortnite” generated the most annual revenue of any game in history and popularized gaming video content among mainstream audiences, according to industry analyst firm SuperData. The group, a division of Nielsen, says that 2018 was the biggest year for gaming and entertainment of all time, citing 13% growth in gaming overall. SuperData’s 2018 year in review [...]

  • Kraken in Sea of Thieves

    'Sea of Thieves' February Update Requires Players Re-Install Game

    A major update to Rare’s pirate role-playing game “Sea of Thieves” will require all players to download and fully re-install the game on Feb. 6. In a blog post on the official “Sea of Thieves” website, executive producer Joe “Three Sheets” Neate announced the studio’s plans to introduce improvements to the installation and patching process, [...]

  • 'The Division 2' Story Trailer Depicts

    'The Division 2' Story Trailer Depicts Nation in Turmoil, Dates Private Beta

    The latest trailer for “Tom Clancy’s The Division 2” shows the US in turmoil after warring factions take over, as shared by Ubisoft via its YouTube channel Wednesday. There’s talk in the story trailer of overcoming a virus outbreak (a throwback to the first game, “Tom Clancy’s The Division”) but it is revealed that violent [...]

  • Magic leap Is Hiring to Build

    Magic Leap Plans to Expand to Mobile AR

    Magic Leap is getting ready to embrace augmented reality (AR) on mobile devices. The company is currently looking to hire a senior software engineer for mobile AR, who will be tasked with “expanding Magic Leap’s platform to mobile devices,” according to a new job listing. A Magic Leap spokesperson declined to comment. Magic Leap released [...]

  • Star Wars Battlefront II

    EA 'Fully Committed' to Making More 'Star Wars' Games

    Publisher Electronic Arts tells Variety that it’s still fully committed to making more “Star Wars” games following a report that its studios are no longer working on an open world game set in the “Star Wars” universe, but rather a smaller game with a faster development turnaround. Three anonymous sources told Kotaku on Tuesday that EA [...]

  • 'Westworld Mobile' Lawsuit Settled, Game Begins

    'Westworld Mobile' Lawsuit Settled, Game Begins Shutdown Process

    The “Westworld Mobile” game produced by Warner Bros. and Behaviour Interactive has now been removed from app stores after a related copyright infringement lawsuit from game studio Bethesda was reported by both parties to be “amicably” settled. There are few details on the specifics of the settlement, which was filed on December 12th, but the [...]

  • Supercell's 'Brawl Stars' Clears Over $63

    Supercell's 'Brawl Stars' Clears Over $63 Million in One Month

    Finnish mobile developer Supercell’s recent release “Brawl Stars” has made over $63 million in its first month on the market. This figure comes from mobile market research firm Sensor Tower, which estimates the developer’s first new game in nearly three years racking in sales to the tune of the average of almost $2 million a [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content