Riot Games Reviews

Updated August 25, 2015
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Riot Games CEO Brandon Beck
Brandon Beck
177 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

213 Employee Reviews

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  1. Featured Review

    Helpful (78)

    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
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO

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

    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 (1)

    Passionate coworkers, senior leadership lacks strategic vision

    • 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
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook

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

    Pros

    - Great co-workers and culture - You'll be surrounded by like-minded, high performing, nerdy folks. It's the best. Rioters are absolutely obsessed with creating the best experience for our players - because we are players - and it's inspiring. - Many opportunities to grow - If you're looking to get experience, you'll find many areas of potential ownership. You may have to tackle some less-sexy problems to get your foot in the door, but if you're committed and talented, you can really make a difference.

    Cons

    - Strategic vision and Leadership - Riot grew very quickly, and it's clear that many senior leaders have not scaled up with their roles. They lack strategic vision, and resort to adding value through holding numerous tedious reviews, doling out tactical feedback, and forcing teams to focus on their pet projects. This problem goes to the very top, and won't be solved until leadership takes a critical look at their own processes, strengths, and weaknesses. Subject matter experts rarely make it to the top of their field by chance, and beating them down with the "gut" or "taste" or "quality bar" stick is a sure way to never improve, and a sure way to generate a real feeling of disenfranchisement. Stay humble, stay hungry.

    Advice to Management

    Riot has so much potential. Our meteoric growth has afforded us the ability to grow our team of incredibly talented people. Please live by your own tenet - "Default to trust" - and really let Riot thrive.


  3. By far the best place to work in games

    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Senior Staff in Los Angeles, CA
    Current Employee - Senior Staff in Los Angeles, CA
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO

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

    Pros

    - Riot treats all of its employees incredibly well, from top tier benefits across the board, to the state of the art campus, free gourmet lunch and dinner. I really can't imagine a better place to work in games (or in tech around the greater LA area). - Very strong on culture, which in my opinion is a positive thing. Company heavily focuses on player empathy across the board, even folks in non game production / design related roles (i.e. finance or recruiting) are passionate gamers. - Feels like the company has a ton of upside. In the history of games no one has been as invested in trying to be as player focused as Riot. It's a brave new world but could mean that there's still a lot of long term value to unlock. - On that note, the founders are both passionate gamers and have an incredibly long view on everything. It's never about how to take short cuts, but rather how do we do it right and make it awesome for years to come.

    Cons

    - Like most successful companies that scaled very fast, there seems to be some growing pains in terms of org / reporting structure. - Management has done a good job of hiring senior leaders who have lead big organizations as of late, but a good chunk of the staff feels junior. - Strong culture means that if you're not a gamer or have high player empathy, you will likely have some issues fitting in with colleagues. - Some people seem pretty relaxed at their jobs / lack a sense of urgency. Not sure it's because they've been here for a while, but not the type of attitude you want to see at a high functioning organization.

    Advice to Management

    Stay focused and stay hungry. Invest in your best talent and cut out the fat. Keep making this place an awesome place to show up every morning and continue to be player focused - success will surely follow.


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  5. Helpful (2)

    Best place I've ever worked

    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Animator in Los Angeles, CA
    Current Employee - Animator in Los Angeles, CA
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO

    I have been working at Riot Games full-time

    Pros

    Great people, environment and office, little to no crunch, loads of growth possibilities

    Cons

    LA is expensive for family's so pay a lot for a small flat close to the office or spend 2hrs+ a day in your car

    Advice to Management

    Pay above average to account for rent prices/cost of living


  6. Helpful (1)

    Riot, a Fantastic Place to Grow

    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Technical Game Designer in Santa Monica, CA
    Former Employee - Technical Game Designer in Santa Monica, CA
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO

    I worked at Riot Games (More than a year)

    Pros

    Riot is extremely competitive Work with some of the best in the industry, developing friendships that last for decades The work is fun, intellectually stimulating and challenging Coworkers and management often support and advise you Constantly pushes people who aren't adapting well to grow or move on Learned more here from people who challenged me to grow than anywhere else I've been We had several areas where I needed to improve significantly to fill the role the company needed and Riot did a lot to provide resources to grow.

    Cons

    Half the programmers are fantastic, most are very good, while a few specific unforgiving or under-informed programmers taint the perception of the entire discipline. When we finally reached a point where I started to turn around, my manager became impatient and expected results that weren't achievable given the gap between my in-development skillset and the unforgiving personalities in play. The large teams are great, the small teams are highly political and if you're not universally accepted on one, your smartest move is to get out quickly to find a different team, rather than repair the situation.

    Advice to Management

    Overall, you guys are nailing it. Keep grinding things down. Break the scarcity mentality in regards to engineering talent. Become more context aware of the skills a person needs to fill a role, rather than having a dogmatic bar for entry. Design and Art does this well, but I constantly heard complaints about engineering requiring non-engine programmers working on website tools to pass 3d rendering and low-level performance tests. Hang in there, break up cabals quickly and cycle more product teams. Also, when reviewing people you need to canvas the whole team, not just squeaky wheels who don't like how things are done. I'm sure you read every one of these reviews Marc/Brandon, so figuring out who I am won't be hard. I had a great time at Riot and learned a lot. Thank you for the opportunity and hope we meet again someday.


  7. Helpful (7)

    Uncertain future and senior management issues

    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee in Santa Monica, CA
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee in Santa Monica, CA
    Doesn't Recommend
    Neutral Outlook
    No opinion of CEO

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

    Pros

    -Competitive compensation with solid benefits. Who doesn't like free food? Compensation structure is generally geared towards stability and personal growth; no bonuses or performance based incentives. -True gamer culture. Can easily find people with similar hobbies and make friends. -Business seems cash rich and stable. You'll likely never hear about a round of layoffs and you'll never have a problem with your team getting fired or needing to transfer if you are moderately competent and can make friends. -Unique problems and challenges. Very few game companies will ever have a problem that effects millions of players. Scale takes on a whole new meaning. -Amazing campus. Can't really understate how refreshing it is to be able to walk or have meetings outside yet still be relatively private. -CEO and President regularly do AMAs and seem genuinely interested in employee feedback. Questions are generally answered even if the answer isn't what people hoped for. -Flex time and unlimited PTO. -Great game. Not everyone gets to work on a product so many people love.

    Cons

    -Veterans are leaving. Leadership will site our turnover stats are low, but this is extremely deceptive when hiring at the rate we are. Across all departments, competent people are voluntarily leaving and senior leaders don't really get why. -Politicians are winning in senior leadership. Relationship management with Marc and Brandon becomes more important every year. The business has grown too fast around them and they struggle to keep up. This has allowed for smooth talkers and yes-men (they are all men) to slip into highly influential positions while leaders focused on doing actual work get left behind. -Serious lack of work ethic. Take a tour through the office and look at how many people are playing games, web browsing, or updating their LinkedIn profile. Then ask why League seems to seriously lack many features common to other online games or the last time League shipped a patch without immediately having to disable key content. Marginal features and content get credit as if they are a major release. It's incredibly demoralizing to see how many people coast, which is why ambitious talent are the ones leaving the company. -Creative Development. This entire department, tasked with expanding the League IP, has directionless leadership, low output, and high organizational cost. The team itself essentially relies on a few creative figures to ship anything: every single other project has failed or been endlessly delayed. Churn is high on the team; seasoned professionals leave without having a single release under their belt. Every single project meets intense executive scrutiny, despite having no bottom line impact and little player impact compared to League. This frustrates both people work on the projects and the rest of the organization; the former because the executive team does not have an expertise in creative work, and the latter because it inhibits their ability to get feedback and approvals, as well as creating the perception that CDev work is way more important and valuable. -Reorgs every six months. Like clockwork, every six months or so the company goes through a reorg or structural shift. Typically this has no impact on senior leaders but rather their direct reports get shuffled around, teams are broken down and rebuilt, and generally not much changes or improves. It's annoying, costly, and pointless, and has not done anything to solve execution problems. -Riot's definition of quality or good. The simplest way of creating conflict, delaying or killing a project, and scoring points, is to question or talk about a product in terms of the "Riot Quality Bar." The Riot Quality Bar, an aesthetic imperative, is totally undefined and is not connected in any way to core company values or stated goals. Conversations are supposed to ultimately about player value, however overwhelmingly the topic of the quality can dominate decision-making instead of player impact. Genre-Defining or Brand Values are also used as euphemisms for the Riot Quality bar. The direct consequence of this is general analysis paralysis, circular debating, dismissal of data, slowing output, and an inordinate amount of time spent on elements tangential at best to the success of the core product. Overall, if you are someone looking to get things done and make big changes, for now its probably a good idea to stay away. You'll be frustrated carrying your co-workers while leaders take credit, and seeing the huge time cost of meaningless debates around you. It's unlikely the company will be able to ship a seriously game changing product until it's financial situation starts to go seriously wrong.

    Advice to Management

    Time to stop talking about how hard everyone works. Start talking about products that have data informed player value, not just things with a few positive reddit comments. Light a fire under some groups and inspire competition based on real goals. Bring high performing teams/individuals with a low profile into the spotlight.


  8. Rare workplace opportunity

    • 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
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook

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

    Pros

    Riot Games is a weird and awesome place to work. They strive to level up their employees are and offer interesting opportunities to learn new skills. There are so many projects happening at Riot that it is hard to stagnate and feel bored with your workload. There is an open PTO policy, a fantastic cafeteria, great workspaces, competitive pay, health benefits, and so many more perks.

    Cons

    This is NOT the place to come if you have a family. Not only is Los Angeles extremely expensive (throw away all dreams of being a homeowner) and not very kid friendly, but Riot does very little in terms of benefits or work schedules to help out parents. Most of the people working here are quite young and don't relate to the needs of someone responsible for a child. Finding childcare in LA is a nightmare and Riot offers no support or advice. The long work hours and expectation to always be at the office also doesn't jive well with a family homelife. Most people here tend to work a 10am - 7/8pm shift and it is hard to communicate why these long hours coupled with an hour commute to the family friendly suburbs are a huge problem for Rioters with families. Overall, working at Riot is AMAZING (unless you have children).

    Advice to Management

    Please consider benefits or support tools for parents.


  9. Helpful (1)

    An exciting journey only for self-starters

    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - China Publishing in Hong Kong (Hong Kong)
    Current Employee - China Publishing in Hong Kong (Hong Kong)
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook

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

    Pros

    Riot Games is a company that values its culture a lot and puts enormous effects living up to it. The company strategies are also communicated clearly to everyone so even there is no hierarchy, no clear internal processes and policies, rioters can make decisions indecently.

    Cons

    Given flexible working hour and vocation days, most of the rioters here work (and play games) really hard so the experiences are in general very intense. Also it is an environment made for self-starters, so a lay-back person won't be able to go far or win any acknowledgements. There is much peer pressure on self-development.

    Advice to Management

    Continue to keep the Riot culture even when expanding rapidly


  10. Software Engineer

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

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

    Pros

    By far, best place I have ever worked. The culture is amazing and truly unique.

    Cons

    The growth in the last couple of years have been exponential, and that generates a few challenges.

    Advice to Management

    Keep the hard work and culture, it's really amazing and spectacular ;)


  11. Helpful (2)

    QA Manager

    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - QA Manager in Los Angeles, CA
    Current Employee - QA Manager in Los Angeles, CA
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO

    Pros

    Progressive & collaborative development teams. A company that lives and breathes its values. Every day provides a new challenge to overcome, which is a pleasure to do when working with such bright and creative talent.

    Cons

    West LA traffic makes commute difficult, but new Expo line stations will open soon.



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