Riot Games Reviews

Updated July 1, 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

187 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 (18)

    Passionate Employees Carry Leadership on their Backs

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

    I worked at Riot Games full-time (More than a year)

    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    Approves of CEO
    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    Approves of CEO

    Pros

    Lots of incredibly talented specialists who are fun to work with on a team. The office space and extra curricular activities are great if you are young/single...seems like overkill if you aren't. Working at a game company and playing sometimes during the day is great.

    Cons

    There is a constant turn-over of leadership with little direction of the vision. As the company grows it is starting to become "just like any other company" by chasing after $s and making quick, short-term bets.

    There is a high level of nepotism still at the company which means people who were great during the start-up phase are underwater now that the company is larger. Also, until more titles come out there isn't really any room for career growth. The organization is flat which also means there aren't any open positions as LoL is pretty mature in its structure. I had people on my team who had been there for 3+ years who were bursting for change but couldn't afford to move.

    Finally, the culture of feedback is completely broken. There are no clear expectations or metrics. You have two choices...spend all day having one-on-ones to butter up your superiors or spend time doing your job. I honestly don't know how any work gets done with so many coffee chats during the day. All bark and no bite.

    Advice to Management

    Clean house in the leadership. Townhalls and AMAs != effective communication down the ranks.

    Actually prioritize work and reduce the # of teams to create a cohesive patch experience. Every team is spread so thin you have a lot of heroics for individual shining stars rather than creating a constellation. DoTA2 is fast on your heals...


  3. Helpful (14)

    Culture of Open Feedback is bogus.

    • 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 (Less than a year)

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

    Pros

    - Player Focused! Riot is #1 at this.
    - The Riot Social scene is awesome.
    - You're never alone unless you want to be.
    - Their benefits are are unrivaled.
    - Riot Manifesto - good idea.

    Cons

    - Riot Manifesto - poor execution.
    - There is extreme attrition for "open feedback" and career growth discussions with manager.
    - Extreme harassment and discriminatory language are the norm in some teams.
    - There is a lack of trust throughout the organization to protect people who are coming forward to Talent (HR) with the attrition issues.
    - Clear nepotism and favoritism in regional discipline of the organization causes a lot of morale issues.
    - Manager will regularly take credit for successes while deflecting their own failures onto new employees.

    Advice to Management

    - Hold senior leaders accountable for failures and non-Rioteous behavior.
    - Zero tolerance for harassment from a manager. A Rioter should feel safe coming forward to Talent (HR)
    - Take care of Rioters not just candidates. There's a reason why they were hired, don't let them go so easily.
    - Put checks and balances in place for managers to be accepting of feedback.
    - Zero tolerance for retaliation, nepotism and favoritism.
    - Managers who play too many games during the work hours yet penalizes others for less game time.
    - If there is a toxic environment Talent (HR) should have veto power to help transition a person to a new role not manager.

    as another Rioter stated "If Riot is truly a meritocracy, than likability should never supercede performance. Ever."


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  5. Helpful (15)

    A people mill that will leave you sad

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

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

    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO
    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO

    Pros

    When you start at Riot you'll be in a large batch of new hires and undergo indoctrination and testing (Denewbification) for over a week. Prepare "a vulnerability" to share with the group, watch the parade of people, and watch what you say. Enjoy the pampering, because once you remove your Teemo hat, you get to meet the people that really work at Riot.

    Cons

    You will learn what's missing from their Cultural Statement, and you will see the true company values by who is retained. You will also understand why you started with a large group, and why there is a new large group every 2 weeks.

    Eventually you won't see people from your "class", and you'll notice more tenured colleagues missing. One day you'll be asked to walk with your boss, straight into a conference room where for the first time, you won't hear the hip bro-talk.

    Finally, you're escorted to the street with your box of personal effects they packed while you were attending your final Riot meeting.

    Advice to Management

    Management doesn't take advice, or feedback.

    Riot Games Response

    Jul 23, 2014Director of Communications

    Hi,

    Thanks for sharing your candid thoughts -- we really mean that. As hard as it is for us to hear some of this, it's important that we stay in touch with the ways that we need to get better
    ... More


  6. Helpful (22)

    Successful Service, Poor Product Development

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

    I worked at Riot Games full-time (More than a year)

    Doesn't Recommend
    Neutral Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO
    Doesn't Recommend
    Neutral Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO

    Pros

    League of Legends is in an addictive genre, and Riot leverages this by focusing intensely on player service. The mantra of Player Focus is for real. Riot's senior management really cares about core gamers. Energetic young employees who love League of Legends can do very well in a short period of time.

    Cons

    Riot has zero leadership accountability once you have tenure, and instead fires new or low-level employees when they don't meet an ambiguous "bar" or when they don't fit in socially with people there from the early days.

    Almost every time someone is fired, they have no idea their job is in danger. Riot claims to be an open feedback culture, but nothing could be farther from the truth. Rather than see this as a problem, Riot generally blames the fired employee saying they weren't "self aware."

    While service of LoL is strong, new product and feature development is a mess, and lately Riot has started throwing a lot of money at industry veterans to try and clean it up. Some do well, others flame out in Riot's unstructured environment.

    On the one hand Riot needs experienced professionals, on the other hand it has a culture of disrespect toward established game companies and methodologies. Riot can be a career killer for experienced industry vets who cannot adapt to Riot's chaotic and social way of operating.

    Riot's immature and sexist "bro" culture is the most extreme I've ever seen, and if you are female I don't recommend working there unless you have a very thick skin. Top management are the worst offenders.

    Advice to Management

    Hold top leadership accountable for failures in product development, and adopt more mature policies around product development and corporate behavior.


  7. Helpful (17)

    Love the cult or leave!

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

    I worked at Riot Games full-time (Less than a year)

    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO
    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO

    Pros

    Location in Santa Monica, vicinity to nice lunch spots, hype about the co. that turned out to be yes, just hype, and those who recruited me look like liars

    Cons

    Cultural fit seems to be more important than skills or experience. They outright threaten you that you will better adjust or otherwise be shown the door before you know it. Crazy as they really have no idea who they are or what their culture is. No leadership, immaturity, arrogance, and the strangest approach to culture which only leaves new employees like me in fear. Growing pains and inability to keep talent at this point as they do not know how to allow employees to be themselves and there is no understanding of work-life balance. Love this cult or leave! I hear some also complain about bullying practices by management and experienced it first-hand. Worst company ever and it makes me wonder who is writing the positive reviews? The current recruiting team!

    Advice to Management

    Treat your people well and know that only that is a culture that is sustainable. Everyone is going to get tired of being treated like a child and yes, I said, sick of playing your game. It is good people that make a good company and not just a product. So get off your horse if you want to stay in business.


  8. Helpful (34)

    A polished display of smoke and mirrors which conceals some deeply concerning bullying, cliques and cult like behavior.

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

    I worked at Riot Games full-time (More than a year)

    Doesn't Recommend
    Neutral Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO
    Doesn't Recommend
    Neutral Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO

    Pros

    Nice offices at Riot, they look after staff in a financial sense; as in you get food and free tickets and goodies. Riot drives its perks directly towards fulfilling its goal to keep Rioters in the office as much and as long as possible.

    I read another review, one of the real ones; where someone said it perfectly: I'll quote them, because I cannot possibly rephrase it more eloquently than when they said:

    "There are some nice people at Riot, some of whom will kindly show you the door if you're not a good culture fit."

    Cons

    There's quite a few:
    For example, given that the most senior leadership tout how open an office environment and how flat a structure Riot Games has, they sure spend a vast amount of time in their dedicated conference rooms (read huge offices) behind their usual desks. I can't really speak for what it's like in there with them, because I was never one of the chosen few cliquey people who surround them.

    Hypocracy is rife, lies are more so. It's hugely corporate while claiming that it is quite the opposite. It claims transparency while having corporate communications locking down any negativity which could get into the public eye. I've seen the mails where senior staff/leadership are "Strongly encouraged to get those who will speak positively of the company." to post reviews, particularly if negative reviews have been posted so as to discredit them.

    Assuming you are cool enough with the bro-fisting elitism, vicious cliques and frathouse-like environment, you will also most likely be able to ingratiate yourself with those in the leadership and find a way into one of the bizarre 'circles of trust' which many of the leaders here appear to hold dear. Failure is not tolerated in any manner, unless you're favored - in which case you're all good, man.

    Don't expect clear targets/goals or expectations from your manager, that's not cool enough for Rioters, this means you have to hope you're in that circle of trust and use your divining rod to work out if you're on track, but if you're not - Riot is proud of moving people on, so don't expect to have an opportunity to address your issues. Communication from Managers, some more than others is exceptionally limited, so that's another consideration. Reviews, guidance, coaching...mentoring....yeah, no. Not going to happen.

    Expect to be brain-washed, you'll get more random Riot merchandise than you can shake anyone's stick at. Which is great if you like that kind of thing. You'll probably be marked down as a non-believer though if you're not seen wearing that Riot gear regularly, or not playing League of Legends as though it was the air you breathe, or working 60+ hour weeks...I'll save you the rest of the list. It's long...

    If you're a drooling frothy fanatic for all things League of Legends who sleeps with a Teemo doll at night and wakes every morning to your Lulu toothbrush and re-runs of LoL E-Sports, you will probably enjoy the cult that is Riot Games regardless of all of the above. If not, it all depends on your tolerance for poison.

    Advice to Management

    Open your eyes to the many 'trusted' people around you and ask if they are actually doing the right thing. Realize you are setting an example to the leaders who follow you when you exhibit astonishing favoritism and unprofessional behavior. Don't be so proud of who you get rid of, because many of those decisions were wrong. You've also retained some of the bad guys.


  9. Helpful (24)

    It was Great... Until It Wasn't

    • 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 (Less than a year)

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

    Pros

    Esprit de corps is high, with lots of enthusiastic and hard-working co-workers. The employees are creative and intelligent, and the overall atmosphere is very pleasant... at least on the surface.

    The gaming industry's notorious sexism didn't seem to be in effect; female employees were treated with respect and appeared to have ample opportunity for advancement.

    Cons

    * Bait and switch employment. When I was first hired, I received a lengthy song and dance about how Riot was different than other game companies. They claimed they respected work-life balance and that, while crunch times did happen, normal employment hours averaged 40-50 hours a week. This was a flat-out lie; 80-100 hour weeks were expected. Long work hours are forgivable; deceiving people about them isn't.

    * Poor work-life balance. Along those lines, a number of the company's smaller "perks" disguise their desire to have you live, eat and breathe Riot all the time. They offer subsidized dinners when you work late (which is often), plan vacations and trips to the movies as part of company outings, and otherwise monopolize as much time as possible. If you're young, single and devoted to work, this can be a good fit. If you're in a relationship or like doing anything outside of the office, stay away.

    * Bad management. Management seems to have little idea about how to handle employees, and tactics shift almost day to day. What's expected of you on Monday may be 180 degrees different on Tuesday, then back to the beginning on Wednesday. Meetings take up a huge portion of the work day, with little or no practical impact coming out of them. Some people seem to spend all their time preparing PowerPoint presentations about what they do instead of getting down to the business of doing it. Resources are poorly spent, and an overall lack of leadership pervades. In many cases, managers were perfectly happy to lie about employees under them rather than take responsibility for mistakes they themselves had made.

    * Arrogance, bordering on narcissism. Riot encourages "go-getters" and "leaders," which often translates to people who put their own ambitions in front of the greater good. Internecine politicking is rampant, and employees are often tossed under the bus based on agendas that have nothing to do with the company's business or product. There's a lot of back-biting and factionalism... though less in the rank-and-file workers than in middle management and above. Riot tries to bill itself as "anti-corporate," but its overall culture is corporate in the extreme.
    Furthermore, a general egotism pervades among all levels of employment. The company seems to feel that a hit game gives them license to treat others with contempt or dismissal, which cuts them off from a lot of potentially beneficial people and ideas. A general fraternity atmosphere occasionally turns into the actively cruel. For instance, a company party was held on St. Patrick's Day 2012, featuring little people dressed up as leprechauns. The "performers" hid their faces behind ski masks that clearly weren't a part of their costumes, to save them embarrassment and humiliation. It made for an awkward and unpleasant event, compounded by senior management's seeming obliviousness to the issue.

    *Lack of product diversity. Everyone there loves League of Legends, and obviously the game is doing quite well. But there were no signs of trying to diversify beyond that core product, or do more than expand it as far as it can go. They'll be fine as long as sales remain high, but should the market change, this company doesn't appear to have a contingency plan in place.

    Advice to Management

    Let your employees know what's expended of them and stand by those expectations. Foster an atmosphere of clarity and transparency, and punish those who pursue their own agendas at the expense of the company's. Work harder to balance the "fun" nature of the product with a more adult business sensibilities, and get past surface impressions to understand the true nature of the company culture you're creating.


  10. Helpful (17)

    This company ruined my life

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

    I worked at Riot Games full-time (More than a year)

    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    Approves of CEO
    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    Approves of CEO

    Pros

    A lot of amazing people work here

    Cons

    Corruption everywhere. People being put into high level positions they don't deserve. No trust, people are quick to throw you under the bus to get ahead. Worst part - slander to future employers.

    They also like doing all these cutesy things like bringing in food and treats..to try and have you forget that you just worked 70+ hours in a week.


  11. Helpful (29)

    Overworked and underpaid

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

    I have been working at Riot Games

    Doesn't Recommend
    Doesn't Recommend

    Pros

    Free food and occasional swag.
    Smart people
    Nice offices

    Cons

    I live with other rioters, we talked about recent reviews posted and it inspired me to post.
    No reviews/pay increases
    Benefits are poor
    Most senior Managment likes to talk but not listen
    Pay is just bad
    Riot expects fanatic fanboy loyalty but doesnt do anything to earn it.
    No work life balance
    There is a have and have not culture here. Agree with the comment about the chosen few linked with Leadership.

    Advice to Management

    Not everyone likes what you do. Think about others. Pay us fairly for our work.



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