Riot Games Reportedly Drops Mask, Vaccine Mandates as Employees Return to Office

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Riot Games is asking employees to return to its Los Angeles headquarters for in-person work without requiring masks or COVID-19 vaccines, Waypoint reported Thursday.

Many employees are unhappy with the studio's decision, and some have even resigned rather than obey the request.

"I'm angry over it," a current employee at the League of Legends maker told Waypoint. "It's a foolish and pointless policy being done at a poor time, and being handled without real guarantee of our safety. We're just playing Russian roulette with Rioters' health."

Riot Games Chief Security Officer Christopher Hymes informed Riot employees of the decision via Slack. The company will no longer require employees to wear masks in the office or undergo frequent COVID-19 testing if they have not provided proof of vaccinations. Hymes said the change to the mask policy brings Riot in line with Los Angeles dropping its indoor mask mandate.

"Early on in the pandemic, we committed to following the public health recommendations from state and local government entities," a Riot spokesperson told Waypoint. "Recently, state and local regulations have updated their COVID-19 recommendations, including vaccination and mask mandate requirements, so Riot followed their lead.

"In according with LA County health orders, Riot strongly encourages, but does not require, all individuals to wear a face-covering while on Riot's property. That said, we know that some Rioters will feel more comfortable wearing masks, and we want our campus to be a place where people feel safe to take whatever precautions best fit their needs. We are encouraging Rioters to have open communication and to be empathetic and accommodating toward those colleagues who prefer masking up."

In the new Riot system, employees assigned to the Los Angeles office will need to commute on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, but can work from home Monday and Friday.

Riot's return to the office tracks with larger trends in the U.S., as companies call employees back to the office after two years of remote work as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Activision Blizzard started a push of its own last week by dropping its in-office vaccine requirement, but employees immediately criticized the decision, and the company partially walked back the change in the face of an employee walkout.

One Riot employee told Waypoint they left the company because of how it was handling the return to the office. A Riot spokesperson said the company expected some departures because employees had grown used to working remotely.

"One of the reasons we've been so transparent about our approach is to ensure that Rioters are armed with all of the information they need to make career decisions that are right for them," they said.

Even as it relaxes some preventative measures, Riot will require employees to carry an RFID tag for contact tracing. Many employees carry those tags with their building access card, making them unobtrusive. But some more skeptical employees don't believe self-reporting will be enough to keep the office safe in the face of weakened systemic solutions.