League of Legends developer Riot Games will pay out a massive $10 million USD settlement as a result of the long-standing gender discrimination lawsuit that was filed against the company by women who experienced a pervasive sexist culture while working there. Riot Games has been embroiled in the lawsuit since late last year, and reporting on the incident has uncovered a number of troubling stories detailing the company's problematic treatment of women and general inequality in the workplace.
While League of Legends continues to enjoy the same level of success that has made it a dominant force in the esports world - and has also spawned another juggernaut in Teamfight Tactics in the interim - the growth that has come to that game was remarkably slower in-studio when it came to work culture. Reports from women who worked at Riot Games indicated a workspace that leaned heavily into "bro" office environments, sometimes going as far as to actively encourage gender discrimination. The lawsuit also had clear evidence that proved women were paid less at Riot Games than men who worked in the same role.
Now, Riot Games will pay out $10 million USD as a collective settlement to every woman who has been employed by the company at any point during the last five years. The settlement, first reported by the Los Angeles Times, is one of the biggest in Californian legal history for a gender discrimination suit, driving the point home that this is a victory for the women who came forward regarding the troubled work culture they had experienced. The exact payout amount will differ for each employee based on their tenure, but the sum is large enough that it should be noticeable for most employees no matter the length of their stay. Ryan Saba, the plaintiffs' lawyer, indicated Riot Games is actively working to change its work environment to Kotaku in a follow-up after the settlement was reported:
"This shows that Riot is serious about changing the culture at the company...The settlement is another important step forward, and demonstrates our commitment to living up to our values and to making Riot an inclusive environment for the Industry's best talent."
Since the initial development of the lawsuit, Riot Games has publicly worked hard to cultivate a more progressive image, changing the way it recruits and promotes employees, bringing in consultants on culture and diversity, and promoting women into leadership positions. All of these changes have led to employees indicating that there really are some big changes coming to Riot Games, something that has further been cemented with this settlement.
It's a victory, and some justice, for women in an industry that too often undervalues the importance of diversity. With Riot Games, one of the biggest developers in the world in terms of influence, finally addressing this issue, there's a real chance of a trickle-down effect that could create lasting change in gaming. Hopefully, that's the case, and lawsuits like this one become a historical example of progress instead of a necessary and recurring process.