What They Do
Create, publish, market, and operate multi-player online games, including League of Legends, played by over 12 million people a day and 32 million a month.
What Makes Riot Games Great
Not many people can say they get to play video games for work, but it’s part of the daily routine at Riot Games, maker of the popular online game League of Legends.
Riot Games employees - they prefer the term “Rioter” – are interested in tweaking the norms of corporate America. Their actions are guided by the Riot Manifesto and they take group trips under made-up company names. One year they traveled as as Initech, from the cult film “Office Space,” and in 2012, they went to Las Vegas as Mundo Healthcare, a joking reference to a League of Legends champion.
The fun and games don’t end there. Rioters work their own hours, and as of this year, have an unlimited amount of paid time off, a benefit that’s becoming a staple at fast-growth Internet companies looking for new ways to attract software programmers and other sought-after talent. Ninety-eight percent of Rioters say they look forward to coming to work, and an almost equal amount say what they do is so special they don’t consider it “just a job.”
“The things that make it a great place to work are ridiculously unusual for a game company,” one Rioter says.
Riot Games is a Santa Monica, California-based gaming company with 843 full-time Rioters. They have grown fast over the last year: in 2012, they had 678 full-time staff, and the year before, they had 347. Men make up nearly 85 percent of the total full-time Rioter population, and three-quarters of Rioters are under 34.
Rioters praise the company for cultivating a “super chill environment that encourages creativity,” crediting founders who’ve stuck to their mission to keep customers happy. “The player comes first and drives all business decisions as opposed to pure profitability,” says one Rioter. “The management really practices what it preaches. Top management has created a great work environment where the mentality is no constraints and everyone is equal.” Ninety-four percent of Rioters feel that they are treated fairly regardless of their position and the same ratio also find management approachable and easy to talk with.
Riot offers many strong benefits to attract and retain its staff. They pay 80 percent of Rioters' health care costs, and offer over 200 hours of training per year, including classes such as Speechcraft (public speaking training), Leading Others (leadership training), Agile Development Training, Denewbification (onboarding for new and existing Rioters), and Player Support Shadowing. Riot has an open paid time off and flexible scheduling policy, which allows Rioters to design their own time off schedule based on their needs. “Some Rioters are night people, while some have some traditional hours thanks to kids, dogs and other loved ones,” the company says. “But we all use the flexible hours to set a schedule that works best for us.”
Having such unrestricted policies doesn’t mean people slack off. On the contrary, while 78 percent of Rioters feel they are encouraged to balance their work and personal lives, the hours can get long enough that some would still like more support. The company’s taken steps to help people balance their lives in some respects, including setting up a meal delivery service for people who need to work late, bringing hobbies (like Swing Dancing) onsite, finding many ways to involve partners and family in workplace fun – but the hours can still be considerable.
One of the reasons for the hard work is that as League of Legends’ popularity has increased, the company has grown quickly. In the past two years, Riot Games’ workforce jumped 143 percent, to 843 Rioters from 347. That has some people concerned that the company’s treasured culture will change. Others wish they had a bigger slice of the action. Sixty-three percent of Rioters feel they receive a fair share of the organization’s profits, and 79 percent feel they are paid fairly for the work they do.
Taking everything into account, 98 percent of Rioters endorse the company as a great workplace. Rioters are confident that they make a difference and are committed to staying with the unique organization for a long time. “Riot Games is the best company I have ever worked for,” one Rioter says. “Without a doubt, I feel so strongly that this company cares about the people that matter, both the Rioters of the company and the players who love the game. That attitude is what makes it so special. I feel totally empowered to do whatever I feel is best for the player, and the company supports me even if it goes contradictory to what management's idea may have been as long as I can present a good argument for why I did it.”
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