Riot CEO Talks About Cultural Lessons Learned And Progress Made Since 2018's Scathing Exposé

Jason Winter
Jason Winter July 28, 2020

It's been a tumultuous two years since Riot Games' "Culture of Sexism" was laid bare by Kotaku's Cecila D'Anastasio. Lawsuits, walkouts, and personnel changes have been commonplace at the League of Legends and Valorant developer since 2018, and yesterday CEO Nicolo Laurent penned an op-ed on GamesIndustry.biz to explain in detail what actions his company has taken since then.

Laurent repeated the apology he initially offered when the issues at the company first became public, and then described what he and Riot had done to address them in the intervening years. Among those were the hiring of a chief diversity officer and the implementation of employee groups "to ensure Rioters had a consistent voice within the company." While not claiming "perfection," Laurent said that things had gotten better to the point that Rioters felt comfortable enough expressing their feelings about the improved culture at the company for a positive-leaning follow-up article by Kotaku in 2019.

Laurent also made a point of emphasizing that, while "no one would be above the law," any significant action would need to be "rooted in truth and constructed in a way that prioritized facts over rumors or Riot's reputation." He brought up the case of COO Scott Gelb, who was suspended for two months for engaging in inappropriate and unprofessional behavior, described by Kotaku's sources as "bro comedy." Laurent said that Gelb's case was "investigated by a third-party law firm and reviewed by a special committee of our board" and that the the suspension -- and not termination -- of Gelb was supported by the "facts of the case, and not the rumors or media reports."

Ultimately, Laurent took full responsibility for what had happened and the success or failure of the measures that would be implemented. He told the board to fire him on Jan. 1, 2020 if progress had not been made, and seeing as how he's still in his position, the board must have approved. While Riot still has some lingering issues with its leadership and how it's addressed some matters related to this situation, it seems that the company has rebuilt some of the trust it lost and is on a better course for the future.

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About the Author

Jason Winter
Jason Winter, News Editor
Jason Winter is a veteran gaming journalist, he brings a wide range of experience to MMOBomb, including two years with Beckett Media where he served as the editor of the leading gaming magazine Massive Online Gamer. He has also written professionally for several gaming websites.

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