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Alienware ends Riot partnership due to sexual harassment lawsuit, claims report

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(Image credit: Alienware)

A Dot Esports report says PC hardware manufacturer Alienware has ended its esports partnership with Riot Games nearly a full year early due to sexual harassment allegations that were made earlier this year against Riot CEO Nicolo Laurent. The partnership was originally set to expire in January 2022, according to the site's sources, but Alienware has reportedly grown uncomfortable with Riot's public image, which has come under increasing scrutiny following a 2018 Kotaku report on "the culture of sexism" at the studio.

Riot confirmed that it has pulled Alienware branding from its League of Legends esports broadcasts, although it didn't reveal what caused the change.

"Alienware has been a valuable partner to Riot since January 2019," it said in a statement. "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."

Riot agreed to pay $10 million to settle a gender discrimination lawsuit filed against it shortly after Kotaku's in-depth report was published, although it continued to insist that sexism at the studio is "not systemic." That plan hit a roadblock shortly after it was announced, however, when the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing filed an objection, saying the settlement was financially insufficient and made "no enforceable changes to employment policies, at a company alleged to be rife with sexism." A month later, the plaintiffs—backed by new lawyers—agreed, and withdrew from the settlement proposal.

Laurent, Riot’s CEO, was sued in a separate matter in January 2021 by Sharon O'Donnell, his former executive assistance, who claimed among other things that he told her to be more feminine and that she "should 'cum' over to his house" when his wife was away, and then fired her when she rebuffed his advances. Riot said it had enlisted an "outside law firm" to conduct an investigation into O'Donnell's allegations, but added that her termination was "based on multiple well-documented complaints from a variety of people."

I've reached out to Alienware for more information, and will update if I receive a reply.

Andy covers the day-to-day happenings in the big, wide world of PC gaming—the stuff we call "news." In his off hours, he wishes he had time to play the 80-hour RPGs and immersive sims he used to love so much.