Alienware cut its League of Legends esports sponsorships short over ongoing Riot Games scandals

    
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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 Last year, the $10M class-action settlement proposal was withdrawn by the plaintiffs and brought back to court, but since then the judge returned it to arbitration – with the exception of California’s labor bureaus and one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.

Source: Dot Esports
Update
Well now maybe Alienware knew something we didn’t when it backed out: As of this afternoon, the Riot committee investigating the accusations against CEO Nicolo Laurent has cleared him of all wrongdoing! “We concluded that there was no evidence that Laurent harassed, discriminated, or retaliated against the plaintiff,” the committee says. “We have therefore reached the conclusion that, at the current time: No action should be taken against Laurent. That is our recommendation to the Board.” Amazing. Presumably, the actual lawsuit will continue; we can’t imagine that Riot absolving itself and its own leadership will have any bearing on that.
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IronSalamander8 .

Riot’s behavior is a huge reason why I didn’t have any interest in playing Valorant (and with it’s skins costing ludicrous amounts of money, that interest is still zero), and don’t plan to play their MMO. Their special committee to investigate this is typical lip service garbage too. I hope more partners pull out of agreements like Alienware did.

Edit: And also why I have some worry about Hytale which I’m otherwise very interested in. Hypixel is supposedly still independent after being bought by Riot, but it still concerns me, and has tempered my interest in that game that I’m otherwise looking forward too.

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Tom De Laet

I don’t know about this. The person sueing is being accused of a lot of bad stuff too pertaining to the lawsuit. Like harassing people to testify, paying people to testify even if they don’t have a story pertaining to the case, threatening witnesses,… I don’t know if any of this is true since it’s coming from Riot. May be just Riot trying to cover for themselves but unless this goes to court and we start seeing some proof I won’t believe either one tbh. You can find it all on the PC gamer article and the Washington Post article.

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wjowski

“We have investigated these allegations and have concluded that we have done nothing wrong.”

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Adventure Freedom

How is none of the reporters or the commentators not seeing the irony in Riot suspending a pro player for supposed verbal abuse towards his own GF and Riot’s constant sexual physical abuses which get ignored.

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Vanquesse V

A CEO is acused of sexual misconduct so a 3rd party investigation is done. said results is checked by 3 people on good terms with the CEO and they all say he’s ok while nobody else ever gets to see the results?
Doesn’t really do it for me thb.

EmberStar
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EmberStar

Gee, that’s a complete shocker. A company famous for it’s shitty treatment of employees and sexist behavior appoints an internal committee to investigate wrongdoing. Possibly comprised of the same people who are accused of DOING that. And they decided that, in fact, nothing is wrong.

I hope this is the start of a chain reaction. Employee complaints, walkouts and even resignations aren’t going to fix it. Their players clearly don’t care (and in fact some number seem to even actively encourage it.) But maybe if enough other companies that aren’t quite as awful start treating the leadership as the revolting live sewage they keep getting accused of acting like, maybe *THAT* will affect the bottom line enough for something to change.

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Kanbe

Does anyone know if all this constant bad PR has actually hurt Riot’s bottom line at all? I just keep thinking that at some point, someone’s going to go, “Ya know, maybe we shouldn’t just grab employees by the crotch whenever we feel like it.” The bad PR obviously isn’t changing anything so maybe if the bottom line starts falling someone will wake up?

EmberStar
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EmberStar

It clearly isn’t affecting their player numbers. Given how famously awful their playerbase is, I can only assume that enough of them don’t care (or actively approve) that any that do quit aren’t having any effect on the flow of money.

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Greaterdivinity

https://kotaku.com/riot-games-says-it-finds-no-evidence-of-wrongdoing-by-c-1846488711

Y’all, don’t worry, Riot handled it.

“We concluded that there was no evidence that Laurent harassed, discriminated, or retaliated against the plaintiff,” reads part of a statement by the special committee, which is made up of three members of Riot Games’ board of directors.

Riot has investigated the claims against Riot and determined that Riot did nothing wrong. MYSTERY SOLVED, GANG. PACK IT IN.

Seriously, while their conclusion may be true, that it comes from the studio investigating itself makes the conclusion look even more suspicious.

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Vanquesse V

The investigation itself was made by a 3rd party, but when only those 3 people will ever be allowed see it, or speak on it, I don’t see why you’d go through the hoops of creating a real investigation when the end result is decided on in such a way.
Either way it can be hard for a random person on the internet to figure out what to believe, but I bet alienware spent a non-insignificant amount of money to figure out if they should trust riot or not, and they went with “not”, so I’m gonna do the same till further notice

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Vanquesse V

” I don’t see why you’d go through the hoops of creating a real investigation when the end result is decided on in such a way.”
I take that back.
They had a “good” reason for it. To assess if they think they can get away with this or not.

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Utakata

“Special committee”, indeed. /sigh

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Greaterdivinity

Damn, if they could get outta their contract early that’s a hit to Riot. Sucks for the players in the league if any consequences result from this, but like Riot, hire some fuckin functional adults to run your damn company and stop recruiting from the frat-bro -> tech dudebro exec track. Nobody wants executives farting in their faces.

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Bruno Brito

Riot should be a license to print money. You treat your workers right, you foster a good community, you rake in the ungodly ammounts of cash.

How someone manages to fuck that up by not keeping in their pants is beyond me. May our holy overlord Tencent, get rid of them.

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Kickstarter Donor
Greaterdivinity

May our holy overlord Tencent, get rid of them.

Honestly, I’m kinda surprised they’re appearing to remain so hands-off with this. Guess it hasn’t hurt Riot’s bottom line too much, or maybe Tencent really just don’t care much about what goes on with their western studios.

Between this and the community being on fire in PoE right now it sure is an odd coincidence for Tencent-owned properties >.>

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Bruno Brito

What about we go from a different approach them: Instead of us assuming Tencent is majorly competent with this specific scenario, maybe they aren’t? They’re a chinese company that are heavy hands-0ff. Maybe they have a terrible fear of messing with their companies’ dynamics and end up screwing the entire chain of command because of it. It can be a lot of cultural discrepancies, and their entire approach is just “toss money at it, and put people in power”?

I don’t know. There’s the possibility they just don’t know what they’re doing, altho i find that hard to believe. It’s easier to think they’re just omniscient.

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Vanquesse V

Tencent is well known for almost never interfering with a subsidary unless said company is losing them money.
Unless people start blaming tencent for riot’s toxicity I don’t see that changing.

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Bruno Brito

Yeeeeeeeesssssssssss

YEEEEEEEEEEEESSSSSSSSSSS

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