Home Esports What Do the Recent Layoffs in Riot and Microsoft Mean for Esports in 2024?

What Do the Recent Layoffs in Riot and Microsoft Mean for Esports in 2024?

by David Manyun
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Microsoft Activision

It’s been a wild beginning to 2024 for software and gaming companies as job cuts pile up at some major corporations in the business.

Layoffs at Riot Games

Riot Games, a renowned developer and esports company, recently announced a round of layoffs that will impact 11% of their workforce, resulting in the termination of 530 employees worldwide.

The reason behind these layoffs is part of a strategic decision by Riot Games to scale down and disband their third-party publishing label, Riot Forge, and Legends of Runeterra teams. It appears that even some employees from the esports division at Riot Games were affected. However, it’s worth noting that the impacted employees will receive a severance package to support them during this difficult transition.

Since its establishment in 2006, Riot Games has expanded its portfolio to become one of the leading gaming companies with a strong focus on esports. Over the years, they have released games like VALORANT, League of Legends, Teamfight Tactics, and Legends of Runeterra.

The most significant impacts will be within Legends of Runeterra and Riot Forge teams. The development team for Legends of Runeterra will be downsized to allocate resources toward content in future updates while maintaining the game’s availability. On another note, Riot Games’ collaboration division called The Riot Forge will, unfortunately, cease operations following the release of Bandle Tale.

Microsoft Job Cuts

Microsoft, the software giant, has recently announced layoffs affecting 1,900 employees in its gaming department and the acquired gaming division, Activision Blizzard.

In a released statement, Phil Spencer, CEO of Microsoft Gaming, confirmed these job cuts. Additionally, news has emerged that Allen Adham, Chief Design Officer at Blizzard, and Mike Ybarra, President at Blizzard, have chosen to depart.

Before these layoffs at Microsoft, Riot Games had already announced around 530 job cuts across regions and departments.

The impact of these layoffs on Microsoft’s gaming workforce is significant. This wave of layoffs affected 8.6% of their staff of over 22,000 employees. It’s worth noting that Microsoft’s gaming team is substantially larger than the Riot Games team and thus raises even more concerns for their gaming counterparts.

Following a series of layoffs witnessed by gaming companies in January, Microsoft joined the trend. Alongside Riot Games, Twitch – a streaming platform – also downsized its staff. Unity had to let go of over 2,000 employees, and even Discord – a gaming social media chat network – had to make reductions, with 170 employees losing their jobs.

How These Layoffs Affect the Esports Realm

Reports suggest that Microsoft’s decision impacted a significant portion of Activision Blizzard’s esports crew. Other sources claim that the esports staff experienced a reduction rate of 83%.

Interestingly, it appears that several employees from the Riot Games esports division were also affected. According to a compilation by V-Tuber btwblue, numerous team members involved with the League of Legends LEC have been let go.

Some Riot Games esports team members have publicly announced their exit from the company. Among them are Jianhua Chen (PR representative for Riot EMEA), and Ashley Washington (Product Lead, Game Changers EMEA at Riot Games).

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David Manyun
Hailing from the West Midlands, David is a freelance sports journalist with a focus on both written and visual sports content. Building a reputation for precise pre-fight predictions, he gains recognition for his thorough fight analysis and extensive knowledge of contenders and fight history in his rapidly evolving field.

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