Riot Games, the powerhouse behind popular titles like League of Legends, Valorant, and Wild Rift, recently announced a substantial reduction in its workforce. On January 22nd, the company revealed plans to lay off 11% of its global staff, equating to around 530 jobs. This decision follows a year where major investments didn’t pan out as expected, prompting a refocus on core projects.
Smolder’s Designer Among the Affected
Amid the layoffs, a notable departure is Jacob “Riot Llama” Crouch, the designer of League of Legends’ upcoming champion, Smolder. His exit, before Smolder’s official server release, has sparked significant criticism from the community. Fans expressed disappointment and support for Riot Llama, highlighting his contributions to the game, including the much-anticipated Skarner rework and the creation of K’Sante.
Community Response and Humor in Adversity
The community’s reaction mixed support for the designer with humor about Smolder’s voice lines, reflecting on the irony of the situation. However, the overarching sentiment is one of regret that Riot Llama won’t see the release of his final projects with the company.
Impact on Riot’s Projects
The layoffs heavily impact Legends of Runeterra and Riot Forge. With a reduced team, Riot Forge will now focus on the Path of Champions, while its independent game studio ceases operations. This move indicates a strategic shift back to Riot’s mainstays – League of Legends, Valorant, and Wild Rift.
It's been a pleasure serving the League player base! I hope Smolder, Skarner, and K'Sante prove to be some of ya'lls favorite champions. My only regret is I didn't get to make more. GG gamers <3 https://t.co/AX89tFATHC
— Riot Llama (@riot_llama) January 23, 2024
Community Reacts to Riot’s Decision Amidst Massive Layoffs
The layoff of Smolder’s designer at Riot Games, particularly before the champion’s release, underlines the volatile nature of the gaming industry. It also showcases the deep connection between game developers and the community. As Riot Games refocuses on its primary projects, the gaming world watches closely, hoping that the quality and innovation that have become Riot’s hallmark will continue.