At the tail end of July, Riot Games managed to piss off gamers, streamers, esports stars, and its own developers by unilaterally announcing a League of Legends esports partnership with Saudia Arabia and its controversial Neom project. The partnership was terminated within days of its announcement thanks to the uproar as Riot Games backed down and apologized.
But if you were wondering about the processes that allowed such a boneheaded decision was made in the first place, then you’ll be interested in ESPN’s reporting on what Riot is doing to prevent it from recurring. Specifically, it’s putting together a “global deals council and an ethics committee” with members sourced from groups focused on esports, social impact, and inclusion, plus the legal team. According to the leak of the internal Riot call last week, the original Neom decision was made in what appears to be a communication and approval scuffle, hence the need for this new committee.
“In [the Neom] process, a visibility email was sent to Laurent and several executives, but none of them approved or disapproved, leading the business development team responsible to believe it was OK to proceed,” ESPN says. In other words, one of the highest-revenue PC games in the whole world caused a major global public relations crisis because of… bad email practices.
“We’re in the process of reevaluating our internal processes to make sure nothing like this happens again,” a Riot rep said on the record.