Tech

Riot Games addresses burnout and crunch by giving employees a week off

Riot Games, the developer of League of Legends and Valorant, will be giving employees the week of August 10th off to “disconnect, recharge, and reboot,” the studio announced in a blog post published Tuesday.

Riot has recently expanded beyond its global smash hit League of Legends, including releasing auto battler Teamfight Tactics, Hearthstone-like card game Legends of Runeterra (which are both set in the League of Legends universe), and Valorant, a brand-new tactical shooter that takes cues from Counter Strike: Global Offensive and Overwatch. But in an industry known for overwork and enforced overtime, referred to as “crunch,” to ship and maintain games, Riot is giving employees a break to help with their health.

“As game developers, we’re all hyper aware of the effects of crunch”

“As game developers, we’re all hyper aware of the effects of crunch and project-based deadlines,” Riot said in its blog. “We owe it to ourselves and to you to prioritize our health as a team (well, many teams) so we can bring you new experiences long into the future.” Riot also said it would be “shifting some patches and release timelines a bit” to accommodate the break and that “a few teams are also staggering their time off to make sure everything is running smoothly.”

Other developers have dealt with crunch in different ways, and many studios have become more transparent in recent years about measures to combat burnout thanks in large part to media reports on game developer working conditions and industry pushes for unionization.

Epic Games gave employees a two-week vacation between June and July of 2019 following a Polygon report detailing months of intense crunch to support the massively popular Fortnite. Epic has also given staff a two-week break around Christmas in the past, according WRAL TechWire. And Epic Games employee Jay Hosfelt said the company “shuts the studio down for 2 weeks in the summer and two in the winter,” in a June 2019 tweet.

EA-owned studio Respawn said it wouldn’t rush updates to its own hit battle royale shooter, Apex Legends, to help “avoid crunch” in April 2019, just a day after Polygon’s report about Epic Games was published.

Riot has taken a number of steps to improve its company culture, which has come under scrutiny in the past for alleged sexist behavior from some employees and toxic management that failed to address repeated abuses. The studio settled with current and former female employees for $10 million in December 2019 in a lawsuit that accused Riot of gender-based discrimination and sexual harassment.

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