Riot Games is facing backlash and ridicule across the internet this week after leaked conversations showed some unprofessional tactics taken by a member of the company’s team. Riot has been working to shut down a League of Legends fan project called Chronoshift for about a year — and now it’s turned to some strangely crude practices.
A member of Riot’s security team going by the name of Zed reached out to one of Chronoshift’s developers on Discord to harass them and make threats. Zed — who introduced himself as someone who “finds people and things” — told the developer that Riot’s legal team “isn’t super thrilled” about the Chronoshift project.
The conversation, which went somewhat viral in a now-deleted Reddit thread, devolved quickly from there. “You’ve obviously put a lot of work into Chrono shift, but I assure you that the chrono break is coming,” Zed wrote (as documented by Kotaku). He asked not only for Chronoshift to be taken down, but also for all source code and all identifiable information. “Give me what I’m looking for and we won’t sue,” Zed said. “Refuse and we will.”
Riot regrets the tone — This is not the first time Riot has attempted to take down Chronoshift. An employee first reached out to the project’s developers about a year ago (via Reddit comment, of all things).
“We have very simple and easy-to-read policies around developing products around Riot Games,” a representative named Gene wrote. “Please read the Legal Jibber Jabber (yes that’s what it’s called) and the policies on developer.riotgames.com.”
“Regarding the exchange with Zed, we’re disappointed with the tenor of the conversation and we’ll be addressing this internally,” the company writes. “We often attempt good faith reach-outs prior to issuing legal documents.”
Great game, bad company — The problem, of course, is that Riot’s takedown methodology does not come across as being in good faith at all. Quite the opposite. In a statement of their own, Chronoshift’s developers say Zed’s attempt was “so unprofessional that it made everyone assume this was another scam attempt to get a hold of the project.”
Legality aside, Riot’s tactics in this situation are damning for the company’s image. This company is its own worst enemy. Just last week, co-founder Marc Merrill found himself the subject of internet ire for a tweet-and-delete incident involving fundamental misunderstandings of racism in the United States. Riot’s internal company culture has been known to be downright harmful, with a storied history of sexual harassment allegations and sexism.
Riot may have created one of the most popular online games of all time, but its own behavior could very well erode the reputation it’s long worked to create.