Riot Games Reviews

Updated June 29, 2015
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Riot Games CEO Brandon Beck
Brandon Beck
156 Ratings

Pros
  • Everyone here is passionate about League of Legends, which I thought was really cool (in 22 reviews)

  • Work life balance is encouraged; they didn't want me to be stressed out so they made sure I played games and took breaks (in 9 reviews)

Cons
  • My only negative is the whole work-life balance issue (in 30 reviews)

  • Compensation for some roles is abysmal for the cost of living in Santa Monica (in 16 reviews)

More Pros and Cons

185 Employee Reviews

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  1. Featured Review

    Helpful (60)

    Strong on Culture and Teamwork. Finding its Way as it Matures

    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee

    I have been working at Riot Games full-time (More than 3 years)

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

    Pros

    I'm not sure how to break this down into a simple list of pros and cons. Everything about Riot is dual-edged and requires consistent grounding to maintain realistic perspectives. If I could summarize, Rioters are given great power. "And with great power comes great responsibility."

    Riot believes in its cultural manifesto. Culture drives everything, but it's not as simple as reading and consenting to the manifesto. Riot culture is a mirror through which Rioters reflect on whether we're winning or losing both as a company and as individuals, and it requires ongoing introspection even after years of working here.

    Riot has lots of perks. Free meals, parties, international trips, lots of swag, relaxed work environment, flexible hours, unlimited PTO, time allotted to play games, playfund (they will pay for you to buy games), etc. Riot takes good care of its employees and strives to create a work environment that is fun and challenging. Many on the outside accidentally mistake this for culture. It isn't. Culture is the set of shared values we can agree upon as being important to us and describing who we aspire to be.

    During the interview process, candidates are screened not only on their raw qualifications (what have they accomplished, can they perform the job function), but on whether they demonstrate clear alignment with Riot's cultural values. Yearly 360-Reviews break feedback down into categories aligned with the cultural manifesto. A large portion of Riot's senior leadership is focused on how to make sure Riot's culture remains intact as the organization continues to grow globally. This has some interesting manifestations as it comes to hiring and career growth.

     - Culture is prized more than raw technical ability in a hire. A candidate may be intellectually brilliant or driven, but will not make it through if they seem to lack humility or a default orientation toward succeeding as a team versus as an individual. I have witnessed any number of amazing engineers either be passed over as a hire or leave the company because at the end of the day they valued building awesome technology more than they valued how that technology was creating better experiences for the player. This is neither a pro nor a con, but it is a reality that potential Rioters should understand and keep in mind.

     - Promotion and career progression are disconnected from how "hard" one works, who they know, or one's particular work quality (unless that quality is sub-par). It's mostly a function of one's demonstrated ability to force-multiply; to help their team or other teams to accomplish more and to drive new ways to approaching problems. "Senior" individuals are not looked at as merely having greater expertise than their peers or having higher throughput. They're primarily viewed as people who are able to create an environment or atmosphere that removes obstacles and makes their peers feel empowered. Thus, longevity or delivery on mere quantity of features doesn't play well for advancement.

     - Everything is done as part of a team. Lone-wolves, no matter how brilliant, will not succeed long term. Individual contributors are not highly valued unless they are also helping to level up the rest of their peers. Individual quantity, throughput, or flashes of brilliance don't really make up for failure in this regard.

     - Internal advancement to senior leadership is primarily achieved through challenging convention - championing some new idea or problem space - and being able to rally a team around it. Waiting for a new department to have an open leadership slot is not very effective. Most senior leaders I've observed that weren't external hires were folks who identified a problem space they cared about passionately, were able to rally others around around it, and ended up proposing and creating the team/department from wholecloth.

     - Management will generally not tell you what to do. This is good for the type of people Riot wants to attract, not so good for those who are fundamentally task-oriented. Leaders at Riot want to clarify goals and expectations, but unless you're an associate level, they don't want to tell you what to do or how to do it. They generally expect that Rioters are capable of thinking for themselves and understand when to reach out to their teammates or leaders for alignment or help. But individual Rioters are expected to own this themselves and figure out what needs to be done. This can be empowering much of the time, but also frustrating when a Rioter lacks clarity and doesn't understand how to seek it.

    Lastly, on the positive side, Riot's culture of open feedback has created an environment where everything mentioned in this review (both in pros here and the cons below) can be (and are regularly) discussed openly. Riot isn't a perfect organization - it's made of human beings after all - but it is an organization that craves feedback and opportunities to learn how to be better all the time.

    Cons

    Same with the pros above, I don't consider these purely negative, but they do present some challenges. Most of these center on how Rioters communicate effectively as the scale of the company increases.

     - Hiring feels SLOW. The need to maintain Riot culture in addition to finding highly qualified candidates can make it feel like you're constantly searching for a unicorn. It's super important to find cultural fits. But if your team needs to hire 5 people to succeed, get ready to feel like you're short on resources for the next year.

     - Immature communication channels. Riot is gradually figuring out how to manage team interactions as the company grows across multiple offices, but this can often be painful. There is still some startup mentality where people think they can just call folks into a room/meeting and everyone will be on the same page. This can sometimes lead to a sense that you need to be "in the room" in order to have your opinion matter.

     - Too many recurring meetings. As Riot grows and it becomes harder to have casual face-to-face conversations with all stakeholders, lots of folks try to schedule meetings as a replacement. These drain the productive juices out of many participants. Be prepared to push back on any meeting invite that doesn't have a set, clear agenda. They will try to take over your calendar.

     - Weak meeting facilitation. Riot prides itself on being a flat organization. Bosses don't dominate the discussion and all Rioters are encouraged to participate. Riot tries to create a meritocratic environment for surfacing ideas in meetings, where anyone is encouraged to speak up at any time. But without strong facilitation, this often leads to people who are willing to interrupt or those whose style is to "think out loud" to be the majority of the voice that gets heard. This has led to an impression among many that when it comes to getting your vision across at Riot, only alpha personalities are valued. This is an unfortunate (and inaccurate) perception, but it's not helped by lack of strong facilitation during meetings. Riot needs to learn stronger facilitation techniques in order to maintain meritocratic interactions without accidentally promoting a culture that values "waiting to talk" over listening. Be prepared to exercise patience here.

     - Side-effects of a strong culture of ownership. Usually this is a great thing, as it encourages teams to take responsibility for what they create end-to-end without pointing fingers when they assumed another team would handle something for them. But a side effect one will notice over time is that some teams come to believe they own an entire type of problem space for the company and can become territorial when other teams start to tread in their domain. This is something management seems sort of aware of and is gradually dealing with over time, but it can be a pain point. People who excel at inter-team collaboration and relationship building will be most effective under these circumstances.

     - Individual Rioters are responsible for maintaining their own work/life balance. This is a positive in principle, but I think the company could do more to arm new Rioters with some practical tools & techniques. Nobody makes you stay late or work weekends, but it's very easy to fall into doing that at Riot if you don't make a conscious effort to stay on top of it.

    Advice to Management

    Keep the strong focus on culture as the company continues to grow. Do more to articulate this externally with prospective hires. Riot culture is something with a lot of nuance, and many potential hires are coming into this with little understanding of how Riot actually thinks about its own values.

     Riot places a lot of emphasis on leadership and cultivating leadership qualities. Start to place equal emphasis on communications and facilitation as the company grows in order to allow leadership and teams to scale, and to ensure all Rioters feel they have adequate venues to contribute their ideas.


  2. Helpful (17)

    The graveyard of ambitions or the land of chill: you decide

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

    I worked at Riot Games full-time (More than 3 years)

    Doesn't Recommend
    Neutral Outlook
    No opinion of CEO
    Doesn't Recommend
    Neutral Outlook
    No opinion of CEO

    Pros

    If you want a comfortable life, good pay for developer standards, free food, and playing video games at work, then this is the place to be. The only string attached is that you have to follow the status quo. The status quo will not be challenged. This is the land of chill if you just do your job, which isn't a bad thing for most people.

    Most Rioters are cool and fun people to work and hang out with. You will not be bored. This isn't a 9-5 corporate job for sure.

    Cons

    Let the witch hunt begin.

    The single biggest issue with Riot is poor management that refuses to leave because of the lack of liquidity (and can't be fired because they are great at blowing smoke).

    You have people who may have been good at running a 200-person company years ago but the company has outscaled them. Running a 10x bigger company come with 10x bigger problems. There are also people who are great at surviving rather than creating value.

    There are people with the best of intentions but an equal if not larger amount of vested people who just want to coast until the next liquidity event. If you worked at Riot for 3-4 years, you will know what triggers to push to bog things down. Bright-eyed and bushy-tailed? Don't go. If you want to move the needle, don't go. Not now, for Riot is the graveyard of ambitions.

    The main consideration isn't innovation, it is protecting the core asset at all costs and milking it (League of Legends). This isn't a bad thing - just a specific business decision. Want to do big things? Go join a startup instead.

    Bonus tip for female candidates: ask during your interviews how many female senior leaders are in the company (zero), and then consider how far you are going to rise beyond junior/mid levels. I'll leave it at that, interview as many female Rioters as you can to get a real feel of what happens.

    Advice to Management

    Who is responsible for running day-to-day operations of the company? The President. Who is responsible for setting the company vision and managing the President? The CEO. Who is responsible for managing CEO? The Chairman.

    Corporate governance is a joke when the Chairman is the CEO, and the President is his best friend.

    It's time for a change. Is Tencent awake?


  3. Great place to work at

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

    I worked at Riot Games full-time (More than 3 years)

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

    Pros

    Summary in the beginning:
     * Great culture
     * Great learning opportunities
     * Good long term vision from Senior Leadership, even if not always explicit
     * Great attitude towards the end goal (making player's experience better)
     * Great perks
     * Great IT and Facility team, which make a lot of things easier

    The culture is great and fosters trust and teamwork rather than individual achievements.
    The people are amazing, smart and have a sense of humor. Few were the days when I didn't laugh.

    Everyone will teach you what they know if you show some interest into what they do and are willing to put in some effort.

    Riot has a strategical direction that makes sense and is well thought through. No matter what you are working on, when you are working there, it matters and you (should) know why it does.

    The entire company is focused on the interest of the players. Although this is a bit hard to grasp for people that are in more traditional work places, it makes a huge difference in how everyone approaches work and feels really good.

    This is a place where you can both be your professional self and your personal self. Everyone has different opinions and you are welcome to express what you think and believe in (provided you remain open to the ideas of others).

    Riot will provide you with almost anything for you not to be in need while at work.
     - unlimited food
     - gaming rooms
     - great secured campus
     - great work spaces with good desks, chairs and computers.
     - quality coffee and pastries

    I'm not going to list everything, but on top of the previously mentioned perks, two teams make a huge difference for everyone at Riot: IT and Facility teams. They are quick, responsive and nice which makes anything a lot easier.

    Cons

    * Some international leadership just flat-out doesn't believe in the culture.
     * Riot is very comfortable and thus hard to leave, even if the time is right.
     * Some lack of people in middle management.
     * Work-life balance can be daunting to manage as you will often have the motivation to keep on working late (but not the need).

    Advice to Management

    * Keep on the same path. The direction is good and I'm looking forward to what is coming up, both on the short term and on the long term.
     * Keep an eye on international leadership.


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  5. Helpful (2)

    Best place I

    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee

    I have been working at Riot Games full-time

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

    Pros

    Smart people, lots of opportunities to improve your skills in whatever discipline you are a member of
    Very player focused
    Very focused on keeping employees happy

    Cons

    Lots of technical debt
    Slow dev cycles


  6. Cool place to work

    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee

    I have been working at Riot Games

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

    Pros

    Plenty of opportunity for moving around the company, lots of room to grow within roles, really cool work-space, great benefits.

    Cons

    The flat-ish management structure can create some issues. While it works much of the time, sometimes it can create a little confusion, and actually make teams unsure which way to proceed - it can sometimes be tricky to know whose feedback and advice to go with when there is is contradictory feedback given.

    Advice to Management

    As the company grows, the challenges shift and change as well. Sometimes, having a little more hierarchy in senior leadership could be helpful in setting direction and clearer goals.


  7. Great place for growth and a "choose your own journey" career, but hiring process and managers need work

    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Associate in Los Angeles, CA
    Current Employee - Associate in Los Angeles, 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

    - Everyone genuinely wants to do what's best for players. Cross-team collaboration is painless when you all have the same end goal in mind.
    - Lots of freedom. If you see a problem or gap or think of something that could benefit players or Rioters, you have the power to make it happen, regardless of what team you're on. To that end, you have a level of control over your career at Riot that I've not experienced anywhere else.
    - Great culture! Feeling at ease with the people around you makes it easier to work and makes the work you produce better.
    - Riot has a very open-feedback culture: Everyone feels empowered to give feedback on anything, and you will have no problem getting feedback when you request it. You'll never find yourself stuck working in a vacuum unless you reaally want to be.

    Cons

    - The interview process is painful and candidate experience is "less than ideal" let's say, but that's something they're working on.
    - Some teams seem understaffed, but the heavy workload they deal with plus the rigorous interview process makes that an extremely difficult problem to solve.
    - Work-life balance is rough. This is partially a problem resulting from too much autonomy and not enough manager-managers. Ultimately it's on Rioters to manage their workload and hours, so if you're more comfortable with having a manager help you do that, you might struggle here. That being said we've started programs to help managers level up and be able to spot those times when they need to step in and help.

    Advice to Management

    Reconsider your hiring process. I STILL regularly hear nothing but horror stories about how long it's taken people to fill roles on their team (~1 year, oftentimes more), and more often than not it's because of the number of people involved in the process. Yes more than one person should have a say in a candidate, but ultimately the hiring manager should feel more empowered to make the final call and overrule if needed.


  8. Great place to grow

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

    I have been working at Riot Games (More than 3 years)

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

    Pros

    Seemingly unlimited opportunity for the hungry. Work with many intelligent people.

    Cons

    Work life balance is on you.
    Inter team communication is not great not for lack of trying.
    Many small empires being created within the past year or so.

    Advice to Management

    Become more involved at a team level to understand needs and break up empires.


  9. Don

    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Senior Engineer in Los Angeles, CA
    Current Employee - Senior Engineer in Los Angeles, CA

    I have been working at Riot Games (Less than a year)

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

    Pros

    Great general culture that sometimes feels to relaxed. People need to understand they are at work to produce output, even when in a knowledge working role.

    Cons

    It's easier to take on a lot more work than an individual can handle. Lots of problems to solve and things to fix. It's like overloading your plate at a buffet but you can't drop anything in the trash!

    Advice to Management

    You're doing it right. Watch for drowning staff and throw them a lifeline if they're too deep.


  10. Generally good all around

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

    I have been working at Riot Games full-time (More than 3 years)

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

    Pros

    Perks are great, people *want* to do the right thing, but often don't take the time needed or follow through. Benefits like health care are great. 401k is good but not amazing. If you have a high drive to succeed and are results oriented you'll do fine. If you can't deal with ambiguity you're going to drown.

    Cons

    Management is, in general, very slim and isn't well supported. This can lead to disenfranchised employees that report to those managers. Compensation isn't market competitive unless you're a super star artist or engineer. Any other discipline and you're not in luck.

    Advice to Management

    Stop hiring so damned quickly, stop spinning up so many projects and deal with training those in management roles for the first time and putting the proper effort into their growth.


  11. Helpful (1)

    Management needs work

    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee

    I worked at Riot Games

    Pros

    Great people to work with.

    Cons

    Very poor management with lots of red tape to go through to get anything done. Growth opportunities are few and far between.



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