Last month, we covered yet another sexual harassment lawsuit swirling around Riot Games, this one a wrongful termination suit from a former executive assistant who alleges she was fired from Riot last summer after enduring sexist language and sexual advances from no less than Riot Games CEO Nicolo Laurent. In response, Riot formed a “special committee” to investigate the matter, but as it also then went on to disparage the plaintiff, it didn’t sound as if it’d be taken too seriously. (It didn’t – see update below.)
But apparently, other companies aim to take it seriously, as this week Dot Esports reported that Alienware has backed out of its global esports partnerships with Riot games specifically over the PR fallout sparked by all the harassment accusations, lawsuits, and other objectionable partnerships. Alienware has been sponsoring pretty much every League of Legends esports tournament and championship for the last two years, and the deal wasn’t supposed to end until 2022.
“Alienware has been a valuable partner to Riot since January 2019,” Riot told Dot Esports. “We can’t comment on our agreement with them at this time due to confidentiality obligations. As we continue discussions with them, we have removed their branding from our broadcasts.”
As readers will recall, sexism and discrimination complaints against Riot Games have persisted since 2018, when Kotaku’s expose of workplace conditions triggered an employee walkout, multiple lawsuits, and a story about how a VP who repeatedly grabbed subordinates’ balls was given a slap on the wrist. Last year, the $10M class-action settlement proposal was withdrawn by the plaintiffs and brought back to court, but since then the judge returned it to arbitration – with the exception of California’s labor bureaus and one plaintiff who was given leave to pursue the class-action herself.