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Helpful (18)

Spiked Punch: Colorful sugar rush fun times during, followed by headaches and sour stomach.

  • Comp & Benefits
  • Work/Life Balance
  • Senior Management
  • Culture & Values
  • Career Opportunities
Former Contractor - Senior Software Engineer in Santa Monica, CA
Former Contractor - Senior Software Engineer in Santa Monica, CA

I worked at Riot Games as a contractor (More than a year)

Neutral Outlook
No opinion of CEO
Neutral Outlook
No opinion of CEO

Pros

Decent Pay, stable company. In this economy these are strong foundation.

Riot is a real business, with millions of real passionate even fanatic users, they have grand visions of the future, where the Riot universe will stand 50 years from now along side what Marvel is doing. This vision is impressive if risky, but they have deep pockets, real profits, to generally back it up.

You can make an impact. Your work there can affect millions in dramatic ways, even within a week of being there. How many companies can offer that? They ship often, and mix month long initiatives with just found out about this a day ago issues, so odds are you can find something interesting to work on, and you can probably go anywhere as the company is pretty flat.

Pretty much any perk you want subsidized for you and your SO (gym, food, massages, trips, movies) all the caffeine+sugar in any form you could ever want to drink. It's a bit like a private college campus, in feel.

You'll generally be surrounded by passionate, competent people. Prepare to be inspired, and others to go out of their way to help you on your way ..if you ask nicely.

A strong social culture. I'd say familial, except you'll rarely get to know anybody that well.

Cons

Interviewing and onboarding was for me a borderline hazing ritual, and the day to day if your doing anything worthwhile, means frequently be getting kicked in the tenders. May want to bring a helmet and a sports cup.

High friction environment, expect to spend 30% of the time in meetings (including wrangling meetings so they don't overlap), if your on the front line 30%-60% of the time fighting complicated forest fires, that weren't visible the day or before, and much to managements horrification defy any ability to plan, or change their ways, despite attempting so.

The culture of Riot is young, arrogant and narcissistic, it feels like a pro sports team that just won the superbowl 3 years in a row, does things in a particular way and now is attached to the way of doing things even if like the ham butt problem they don't really make sense on a grand scale.

Pretty much every part of Riot is under the crisis of turning a rusty bus into a shiny 747 in a year or 2, with paying people never getting off, and the vehicle never stop moving 24/7 worldwide... and to make things complicated, that 747 is already deprecated in anticipation of a space ship capable of interstellar drive, but is a decade away practically. That identity crisis leads to many Riot is their own worst enemy actually getting stuff done.

The work turning a rusty bus into a 747 can be ugly, challenging and unforgiving. Having millions of live users means every weak link is stressed and often breaks, and even innocuous things can have drastic consequences in live production, impacting millions of users so severely they picket the offices. Issues can be 6 layers deep of locked black boxes, that takes months to understand enough data what is causing them, if you can even get data on them (it's a rusty bus remember?). There are often a half dozen languages and a dozen esotaric systems to make any part work. This continued effort wavers between a turnon and grinding treadmill. Expect at the end of the week to be pretty tapped, and your SO probably not very understanding why your a vegetable on the weekends and don't want to do anything.

The process of managing the work, (almost one dimensional jira and walls of post-it notes) is often a poor fit for what the super complicated and rapidly projects need. Riot is exceptionally flat and often it feels like there is 12 people collectively driving the bus at any given time, each with , and in some cases shouldn't be driving anyway.

Day to day. expect to spend a lot of time juggling competing conflicting priorities. Between "blue sky...cost is no object" and "this was supposed to be done last month, what's the minimum we can do?". Everyday is like ER triage, do we cut off the left arm or right one? is the heart attack or 3 car pileup more important, meanwhile other high priority tasks starve and rot on the sideline. There is sort of an ADHD with projects half started, or half fixed, and never cleanly finished, an long backlogs where poor project managers every few months continue to ask for help with no response.

Riot likes to throw people at and sometimes under problems. Be expected to be treated as a cog, that can be placed anywhere at any time. Month by month, you will meet new people and then a month later, you or they will move and you'll rarely see them again. If your good at what you do and fit well in the machine, expect to either be there doing the same thing forever to the point you dislike it, or quickly overloaded and split focus so things are hard to manage, and pretty much everybody there is heavily loaded, so don't expect most things to go smoothly or sensically.

As Riot is a social political machine, it's not enough for you to do a good job, to be successful you have to sell it to others. If you get a project that doesn't fit into clean department lines, prepare to get squished.

This extends especially to projects that are outsourced, "setup to fail" started often without much planning (at least architectural), or continued oversight, and end up in crisis as they are tried to be integrated in a rush, and end up having huge issues, requiring everyone to dogpile on. While the intent for many of these features to be player facing, I often saw designer/developer thinking very egocentrically, running amok, leading to leaping ahead without looking, then in the end often throwing away months of work, and red lining people for months in the process.

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  1. Helpful (5)

    Where the best go to play

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee in Santa Monica, CA
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee in Santa Monica, CA

    I have been working at Riot Games full-time

    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO

    Pros

    What makes Riot a great company is its culture -- its dedication to putting the Player first. This stems from the vision and passion of its founders (Marc and Brandon) and it permeates from the top to the bottom of the organization. The secret sauce that separates Riot from other game companies is that most other game companies are founded by successful game developers who become businessmen by necessity; while Riot was founded by businessmen who love games, who understand how to run a business and understand how important the right culture is to a stellar company, and have enough self-confidence to hire and trust people with expertise they do not have (like engineering and game design).

    [+] Culture: Openness, excellence, self-awareness, team-focus, low-to-no politics. Do the Right Thing for the Player (the right intrinsic motivation) and revenue (the extrinsic reward) will come as a consequence.

    [+] Player focus: Worth highlighting even though I mentioned it above. Note "Player" focus, not "Customer" focus; that is, focus on the experience for everyone in the game, whether they pay money or not. This sincere, almost maniacal, focus on our relationship with our Players is the core of Riot's success.

    [+] Really smart people: Talented people who are dedicated to getting even better. And who are not afraid to hire people smarter than themselves.

    [+] Really cool people: Humble. Ethical. Collaborative. Creative. Fun.

    [+] Unafraid to part ways: Able to identify people who are not a good culture fit or are underperforming; working with and coaching them to help them meet the bar; but not being afraid to let them go if a path to improvement cannot be found.

    [+] Global reach and impact: The ambition to bring the product everywhere in the world; and the wisdom to listen and work with the differences of each culture and region we support.

    This is the best company I have worked for in my career, but I know we can achieve so much more and have so much more room to improve. So let's move onto the "Cons".

    Cons

    My analogy for Riot is that it is a rocket ship on the verge of breaking free of Earth's gravity well and going on to intergalactic success. The scary part is that we keep adding more and more people to the rocket ship, and the funny thing about rockets is that you need an exponential amount of fuel for each additional person. That means each new person needs to pull more than their own weight if we want to achieve escape velocity. The biggest challenge facing Riot is whether we can manage our growth to fully achieve our potential of going to outer space. But the worst case scenario is not horrible: we'd still be orbiting Earth, and considering how many companies blow up on the launch pad or in the low atmosphere, we will still have achieved something grand.

    [+] Compensation: Despite our obvious and enormous financial success, the majority of employees, new employees especially, are not sharing in the LoL bonanza. As far as I'm aware, there are no bonuses, profit-sharing, or additional options being granted. Riot can get away with paying slightly-above average salaries for its very young staff who are just happy to work on an amazing game at an amazing company, but as its workforce matures, they will need to create a path for them to pay for their kids' college tuition and secure their retirement.

    [+] Culture dilution: As a consequence of extreme growth (from forty or so employees in early 2008 to comfortably over a thousand in mid 2013), it is hard to know if we are maintaining our core cultural tenets with every hire. The good news is that it is on the forefront of every hiring managers' mind. The bad news is that sheer size makes it hard to identify people who don't actually fit our culture, and makes it hard to transfer the desired culture from existing "good" employees to new employees before another batch arrives.

    [+] Maturity: In many departments, we have hired beyond the capability of the existing experienced employees to train junior employees. People are talented and full of potential, but that potential cannot be realized without reasonable oversight and mentorship.

    [+] Work/life balance: Riot is not just a job, it's a lifestyle. This can be good if that's what you're looking for, but it can be bad if you differ from the norm. Part of the growing pains will be to mature into an environment that can tolerate differing levels of commitment to work hours.

    [+] "Profoundly Found Elsewhere": The opposite of "Not Invented Here" syndrome. Early on, Riot had to "make do" with the people they could hire as a startup. The ones that remain were clearly ones that could "punch above their weight" when hired, and have been working on one of the most successful games in the world for years. We are now able to recruit "big names" from elsewhere in the industry, and we put a lot of effort and creativity into wooing and recruiting them. But I feel we do not have anywhere near the same respect for, or expend as much effort or creativity to keep and reward, the people we already have. This has most recently manifested in an entire layer of leadership hired in above existing employees.

    [+] Inner circle: As a consequence of our rampant growth, the visiblity that upper management has of the day-to-day in the trenches and the access employees have to upper management has naturally gone down. There is now an inner circle of trusted advisors that drive the major strategic decisions of the company, and you have to be in the good graces of someone who has influence to enact high-level change at the company. Riot is still one of the most open and agile companies I've worked for, and it continues to do things to break down these barriers with smaller town-hall meetings with Marc & Brandon. But the President of the United States has a Cabinet for a reason -- he doesn't have the time to listen to every citizen armchair-expert before making key decisions. This may very well be the simple consequence of scale; but I do mourn the very flat and direct hierarchy we had when the company was much smaller.

    [+] Cult of heroics: Riot values the ability of a single hero (or small team of heroes) to rise up to the challenge and excel the way out of a crisis. But just because we're good at fighting fires does not mean we should start them or ignore them when they're small. As we mature, we need to create an environment where we have heroes but no heroics -- that is, people that could step up to any emergency, but develop, plan, and work in such a way that crises do not occur.

    The important thing to note here is that Riot has a deep dedication to continuous improvement. I have every confidence that we will be able to address these "Cons" as long as we stay true to our core tenets.

    Advice to Management

    Be cognizant that successful people are superstitious. They believe that everything they did to achieve success was required to be successful. Strive to distinguish between the things that you succeeded "because of" and things that you succeeded "in spite of", and double down on the former and eliminate the latter.

    Remain open to feedback from the entire organization from intern to VP. In the early days of Riot, the best ideas could come from anywhere -- like amazing champion ideas from interns with no industry experience. Just because we now have the reputation to hire "the best" from the industry does not mean that a better idea may be brewing from an "unknown" employee.

    Continue to be as fearless and risk-loving as we were in the beginning. Keep making smart calculated risks and shooting for the stars. Now that we have high industry visibility and a "reputation to uphold" do not start making conservative decisions to protect the status quo. The moment we switch from "fearlessly pursuing victory" to "trying not to fail" is when the Riot rocket starts curving back towards the Earth.

  2. Helpful (1)

    A truly different video game company

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Current Employee - Game Designer in Santa Monica, CA
    Current Employee - Game Designer in Santa Monica, CA

    I have been working at Riot Games full-time (More than a year)

    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO

    Pros

    Great people, great culture, smartest people I've ever worked with. A place where you can come up with an idea, form a team, build it, and ship it to millions of players. How cool is that?

    Cons

    Young company, ambitious, but focus is sometimes split. Would benefit from less projects and more focus. Also needs to kill off long term projects that aren't generating sufficient returns.

    Advice to Management

    Provide more strategic advice. Help people understand the best way to focus their energy.

There are newer employer reviews for Riot Games
There are newer employer reviews for Riot Games

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