Alienware has decided to terminate its sponsorship deal with Riot Games several months early due to allegations of sexual harassment.
Alienware is reportedly cutting ties with League of Legends due to allegations of sexual harassment against the CEO of Riot Games.
The American computer hardware company has been visible across advertisements for League of Legends. But the global partnership between Alienware and League of Legends is set to come to an abrupt end. A report by Doesports’ Jacob Wolf says Alienware will terminate its partnership nearly ten months early. Alienware reportedly raised concern with the game developer’s public image amid harassment claims and other controversies during discussions with Riot Games.
Riot Games removed Alienware branding from broadcasts
Alienware has been a valuable partner to Riot since January 2019. 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.
Alienware entered into a global partnership with Riot Games in 2019. The deal encompassed sponsorship and advertisement for the entire League of Legends esports scene. This includes some of the biggest regions in LoL such as the LCS, LEC, LPL. The deal also included sponsorship for the Mid-Season Invitational and the World Championship.
Past allegations of sexual harassment at Riot Games and the global fallout over Riot Games’ NEOM partnership were factors in Alienware’s decision. The League of Legends developer has been under fire for its work culture which encouraged sexism and led to instances of sexual abuse. Riot Games promised reforms over a 16-month timeline but new allegations continue to surface.
CEO under investigation for sexual harassment allegations
Sharon O’Donnel, a former executive assistant to Nicolo Laurent filed a sexual harassment lawsuit against the CEO in January 2021. In the lawsuit, O’Donnel claims the Riot Games CEO made sexually suggestive remarks to her. He would invite her home when his wife was not present. Mr. Laurent also suggested the way for women to handle stress was to have kids. Sharon O’Donnel was fired from the company in July 2020 which she claims is in retaliation for reporting Laurent to human resources.
In a statement following the civil lawsuit, Riot Games denied terminating her contract in retaliation to her reporting the Chief Executive Officer. Riot said it received complaints about O’Donnel from several employees at the company. The company has involved an outside law firm to investigate Mr. Laurent. A committee of the company’s board of directors is overseeing the investigation.
This is not the first time Riot Games has come under fire for sexual harassment. There was a similar controversy over the company’s culture and workplace harassment following a 2018 investigation by Kotaku. Four former Riot Games employees sued the game developer closely following this report. They settled for $10 million in 2019.