Riot Games has issued an official statement following nearly a month of reports on sexist culture and workplace toxicity at the studio. The company has offered an apology to employees, future hires, and fans alike, as well as detailed breakdown of the steps taken so far to make things right, as well as what’s changing in the future.
“For the past three weeks,” Riot says, “we’ve been focused on listening and learning. As a company, we’re used to patching problems ASAP, but this patch will not happen overnight. We will weave this change into our cultural DNA and leave no room for sexism or misogyny. Inclusivity, diversity, respect, and equality are all non-negotiable. While there is much to improve, there is a tremendous amount of good at Riot that will drive this change. This is our top priority until we get it right.”
To current and former employees, the company says “We’re sorry. We’re sorry that Riot hasn’t always been—or wasn’t—the place we promised you. And we’re sorry it took so long for us to hear you. In the days, weeks, months, years to come, we’re going to make Riot a place we can all be proud of.”
Riot says it has built a new team to lead the charge of cultural change at the studio, impacting “every corner of this organization,” adding that “We are all committed to keeping the best parts of today’s Riot – like our focus on player empathy – while tirelessly looking toward the future. The team will be accountable to our CEO directly.”
The company will also bring in third-party consultants to help ensure that the steps toward evolution are successful. “Cultural definitions” – like “gamer” and “meritocracy” – are on the table for change from top to bottom, “to ensure they mean the same thing to all of us.”
Perhaps the most notable changes include expansions to the studio’s investigation process for reports of negative behaviour. There’s now an anonymous hotline that will allow Rioters to raise issues and complaints, and an outside law firm is working alongside Riot “to provide an additional, unbiased layer to all of our investigations.”
On that end, Riot says “No one and nothing is sacred. We are prepared to make big changes and have begun taking action against specific cases, including removal of Rioters, though we aren’t likely to get into those details publicly on a case-by-case basis for legal and privacy reasons.”
Riot is saying the right things, at least, but only time will tell if this all translates into concrete change at the studio. League of Legends remains one of the most profitable games in the world – number two in July according to SuperData – and Riot is one of the industry’s most important studios. Consequently, people will be watching very closely as these proposed changes go into effect.
All of this comes after an extensive report from Kotaku’s Cecilia D’Anastasio detailing the company’s “culture of sexism.” The report cited nearly 30 current and former Riot employees in detailing an extensive problem with the studio’s accepted behaviour. Since that report, many more isolated reports from people associated with Riot have come out – some saying they’d never experienced that sort of workplace toxicity, but many more told stories of similar experiences.