In this very long open letter, Nicolo Laurent details various important points for Riot Games, starting with its main political line: to make Riot Games “the world’s most player-centric video game company“.
Nicolo Laurent begins his letter with a bit of self-congratulation: he recalls how much 2023 was a successful year for Riot. Thanks to League of Legends, Valorant and the Arcane Series, Riot has succeeded in almost everything the publisher has undertaken. But the CEO says it: no reason to rest on its laurels.
2023 has been an amazing year for gaming in general and for Riot in particular: over 180 million monthly players around the world have enjoyed Riot’s games; hundreds of millions of players and newcomers have joined us to the first season of Arcane ; we organized our Worlds most watched of all time ; we organized our first world championships for Valorant, Wild Rift and Legends of Runeterra ; we’ve helped players raise nearly $12 million for charity; And much more. It should also be noted that the Rioters have made all this during a pandemic, which added a layer of difficulty to even the smallest achievements.
It would be tempting to rest on this victory and be satisfied with it. Play it safe. Enjoy and repeat. To be the kind of company investors love and gamers hate.
But when we debate whether to play it safe or try to do more, we know that the question does not really arise. Our mission is to be the world’s most player-centric video game company. And this mission is an aspiration; something we know isn’t true yet but might be one day.
Nicolo Laurent explains how Riot should aim to be a company of gamers, not games.
We don’t want not be defined by the things we make, we want to be defined by the people we make them for.
This is how the experience offered to players will pass not only by games but also by everything around. The most obvious example being entertainment merchandise such as series, such as Arcane. Develop series, music, expand their universes, but also develop eSports, and always seek to exceed the expectations of their fans, that’s the goal. Using the metaphor of climbing a mountain, he tells how launching League of Legends was the start of the ascent. When he became CEO in 2017, his first goal to keep climbing was to justify the “S” of “Riot Games”, otherwise release new games. Today, the ascent continues through new goals such as perpetuate eSport on their titles, and sow new seeds for their cinematic universe.
Later in his letter, Nicolo Laurent explains that the management of Riot met with the Rioters (the employees) to discuss the continuation for the company. They defined five main points to respect to develop the best Riot Games according to them :
To do all this, Nicolo Laurent explains that Riot needs to rework its way of doing things, keep doing evolve their culture to focus on these goals, take awareness of the past to better start this new chapter, reward the Rioters and make them feel that they have a share in the success from Riot, and making sure everyone at Riot feels good about this new direction. And precisely, this last point leads to the new management methods within the company.
Indeed, this new chapter also means turning the page of the old one. And so turn the page of various scandals about working conditions and the atmosphere within the company since 2018. If it is not a question of erasing everything, building a new and better Riot necessarily requires new bases.
Although we are proud of the progress made since 2018, it is important that we also take responsibility for our past. Given the ambitious goals we have for the future and the tens of millions of dollars we would spend each year on lawyers to help solve these cases – money that we’d rather pay women of collective action and invest in Riot’s future – it has become clear over the past few months that the best outcome for everyone would be to reach a final resolution.
To be clear, we are not asking no one to forget this chapter and move on. On the contrary, the lessons we have learned together over the past few years will be a crucial part of Riot Games’ origin story.
The idea is to continue to clean up the atmosphere in the workplace, while maintaining what needs to be preserved. In particular, Nicolo Laurent affirms that Riot is one of the best paying companies in the industry and that this must be sustained. At the same time, Riot is well aware that payroll is not everything, and that it is very important that employees feel good, feel involved, and that they do not feel that the success of the company exceeds theirs, individually. This is how incentives and share acquisitions are planned for the Rioters, with the agreement already established by the majority shareholder Tencent.
It should be noted that the Queue Dodge system will be reinforced. This is a program allowing anyone to opt out of Riot within the first six months of his contract and receive a quarter of his basic salary and health cover for three months, as well as all of his bonuses regardless of their conditions. It’s a how to make life easier for their employees, even when they realize that Riot was ultimately not the dream job they were hoping for.
The company is also in the process of comprehensive restructuring. Indeed, Nicolo Laurent explains that when Riot was launched, the company was organized by departments: art, design, production, etc … Over the years this organization has become obsolete and a transition to an organization by products has taken place. is implemented: League of Legends, eSports, Legends of Runeterra, Arcane, etc… This transition continues, accompanied by a simplification, the idea being to make the organization chart clear and simple of Riot Games by structuring the company in five pillars: games, eSports, entertainment, publishing and business. These pillars are obviously thought to be interconnected, and the final idea is that a good idea from one of these pillars can be transmitted to the others, for example.
This new structure goes hand in hand with a more and more openness to remote work. Riot will therefore promote a hybrid system combining face-to-face and home work, to make everything more efficient, operational and simple. Concretely :
When we are finally able to reopen our offices, every Rioter will have three “basic” days in the office, the two other days being “flexible” days where they can come to the office or work from home, at their discretion.
Finally, we learn that Riot Games counts well continue to open new offices. In 2023, new studios were opened at Seattle and to Shanghai, and Nicolo Laurent affirms that several new studios expected to be announced in 2023.
Overall, the message is therefore always the same: the objective of all Rioters and therefore of Riot Games must be to propose what is best for the players. But for this, it is also necessary that the health and well-being of each Rioter is respected, and this is obviously the company’s main line of work for this five-year plan.
Nicolo Laurent’s open letter, in full.
Upcoming projects published or developed by Riot Games include Conv/Rgence planned for this year, and other games such as Song of Nunu, Project L, Project F, and the MMO based on the Runeterra universe. Of course, other projects outside the games are also planned, starting with a season 2 of Arcane.