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Riot lays off over 500 staff, with Legends of Runeterra and Forge indie initiative teams hit hard

"This isn’t to appease shareholders or to hit a quarterly earnings number—it’s a necessity."

A Legends of Runeterra character shuffling some cards.
Image credit: VG247/Riot

Riot Games, the developer behind the likes of League of Legends, Valorant, and Teamfight Tactics, has announced that it’s “eliminating about 530 roles globally”, with the most tangible effects seemingly hitting the teams working on Legends of Runeterra and the Riot Forge initiative that’s behind the likes of Bandle Tale: A League of Legends Story.

As revealed in a blog post, the layoffs will affect “around 11%” of the Riot’s workforce, with the developer saying that “the biggest impact [is] to teams outside of core development”. “This decision is critical for the future of Riot,” chief product officer and co-founder Marc Merrill and CEO Dylan Jadeja said in the post, “This isn’t to appease shareholders or to hit a quarterly earnings number—it’s a necessity.”

As a result of the move, Riot will increase its focus on its “core live games” - League of Legends, Valorant, Teamfight Tactics, and Wild Rift - emphasising that its plans for these titles are “more ambitious than ever”. “Expect events, modes, and long-term roadmaps that lead to vibrant (hopefully multi-decade) futures for these games” wrote Merrill and Jadeja.

The upcoming Project L also doesn’t look to have been affected, with Riot saying it “has been making great progress” and suggesting that more updates on the game will be coming later this year.

On the other hand, with these layoffs, the company has chosen to make cutbacks on both Legends of Runeterra and its Riot Forge initiative, which has produced the likes of Ruined King: A League of Legends Story and Convergence: A League of Legends Story. The former will see the size of its team reduced and have its development re-focused around the Path of Champions mode.

As Riot acknowledges in the post, LoR has historically struggled to be as much of a financial success as it would have liked. This is something a number of members of its community have suggested could well be linked to Riot not promoting the game as heavily as it possibly could have in posts following the layoff announcement.

In terms of Forge, Riot is officially “ending new game development” via it once Bandle Tale: A League of Legends Story releases on February 21. Former Riot head of creative development Greg Street has shared “bit of a eulogy” for the initiative in a Twitter thread that’s well worth giving a read and sees his praise the ability it gave developers to tell stories that couldn’t be effectively told within League of Legends itself.

The layoffs have also impacted some of those on the League of Legends and Valorant esports side of Riot, though to a lesser extent than the teams discussed above.

It’s been a truly terrible time in the games industry layoffs-wise over the last year and a bit, something that was reflected in the views expressed by developers in this year’s GDC State of the Game Industry survey.

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