League of Legends tells casters and pro players to avoid ‘sensitive issues’ at the World Champs

Plus news on Riot's legal front as California adopts bill against forced arbitration

    
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So Riot’s not having a good week with the whole China thing either.

While the League of Legends studio was able to successfully fend off rumors earlier this week suggesting that it was censoring the term Hong Kong – and it wasn’t – it’s gone ahead and stepped right in it now. Riot’s official esports account blasted out this message this afternoon, attributing it to Global Head of League of Legends Esports John Needham. In brief, it asks League casters and pro players to avoid “personal views on sensitive issues (political, religious, or otherwise)” when it comes to broadcasts during this weekend’s World Championship group stage.

The rationale is what’s particularly remarkable here, as the company suggests participants should avoid these subjects not because they would make Riot look bad or cost it money; instead, it claims such topics can’t be “fairly represented in the forum [its] broadcast provides.” The studio even appears to be warning gamers that talking about these “sensitive subjects” could lead to harm for Riot employees in regions of political unrest.

Needless to say, the comments under the tweet as well as on the League of Legends Reddit are not taking the post all that well – some of them appear to be taking this as a dare. It’s not entirely clear whether Riot aims to crack down on regular streamers or attendees, nor what the consequences for defying this “reminder” will be.

Yes, Tencent fully owns Riot Games.

Meanwhile, the governor of California this week signed into law a bill that outlaws mandatory arbitration clauses in the state. That’s a big deal for employees at Riot Games; as you’ll recall we’ve been covering the absolute clusterfudge at Riot since the expose of its sexual harassment and sexual discrimination problems last year, the shabby response to which prompted an employee protest and walkout and lawsuit and enforcement suit from the California DFEH, which accused Riot of not fully cooperating with its investigation. Among the employee grievances was the forced arbitration clauses in employees’ contracts, which ensured men and women affected by systemic sexual harassment and discrimination at the studio couldn’t sue Riot in a real court of law.

Source: Twitter, more. Thanks to everyone who sent these in.
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Castagere Shaikura

Isn’t riot owned by a Chinese company?

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zuldar

This is not a good look for you Riot. Maybe the middle of a PR firestorm is not the best time for this sort of message.

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GiantsBane

I think riot just needs to come buy some tegridy down at tegridy farms.

Then they’ll be right as rain.

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* bag

Riot did right to get out this reminder. It will be interesting to see if they’re able to remain neutral when the shit eventually hits the fan…

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Arktouros

And in being consistent with the views with the Blizzard scenario, this again seems all pretty reasonable. It’s their platform and thus their choice what content should and shouldn’t be on it.

That said these scenarios aren’t exactly unprecedented. Competitors have long used sporting events to draw attention to the causes they believe in from the Olympics to more recently a variety of sports. This continuing into newer fields like eSports should be largely unsurprising and companies not being prepared for this scenario is pretty odd.

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Bruno Brito

Reasonable yes, but it’ll go extremely badly for their PR.

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Arktouros

If you risk pissing off the western audiences, people will uproar and outrage like we’ve seen, even people will cancel subscriptions and not do business with you. However history has shown most of our moral fortitude is about tissue paper thick. How many people vow never to do business with EA and yet they post billions in profits? Remember the classic “Boycot MW2 Steam Group” picture full of people playing MW2? This is not to say that such efforts are impossible, only that getting large scale follow through on such moral campaigns has been incredibly unreliable.

By comparison you have what is a unified, uncompromising tyrannical control where there is no question of follow through or whether or not you will get enough people to rally to their cause.

So people threatening that if you do X then we’ll stab you while someone else telling them do it or we’ll shoot you. If those are the only options they have, it just becomes a matter of revenue loss forecasting.

MilitiaMasterV
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MilitiaMasterV

“Silence peasants! You aren’t allowed to speak!”

-imagines them saying this in his head-

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Apollo Haner

Guess I’ll be uninstalling Lol as well

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TherecDaMage .

So Reddit is claiming that Riot is a fine company and their policies are fair while Blizzard is evil. I say they’re one in the same. Reddit says what Blizzard did is completely different because it’s fine silencing people from speaking out against the Chinese government as long as you don’t take away prize money, fire anyone or ban them from the game for a year.

Am I missing anything or is this blatant hypocrisy just because they hate Blizzard and love their precious League of Legends?

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Sorenthaz

Each subreddit serves as an echo chamber where it’s mostly dominated by likeminded individuals and it’s not often you’ll see contrary opinions be upvoted (or at the very least not downvoted to hell).

The League of Legends subreddit is mostly full of hardcore loyalists at this point and outside of very specific threads (i.e. the drama ones) you’re going to see folks defend Riot or just go, “yeah, that’s fair.” Top comments on the LoL subreddit thread talking about this basically are just apologists going, “yeah not like they can do much anyway since Tencent owns them”, as if that’s okay in the first place.

Part of it I guess is that maybe they’re looking past the company itself and seeing who the real owner is, and that does differ from Blizzard which isn’t majority/completely owned by Tencent. Still, refer to what I said previously about subreddits.

Mewmew
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Mewmew

They were walking down a sidewalk not even close to the dog poo laying there (for once), but they decided to scootch over and plant their foot firmly in it anyway.

I’m sure it will work out perfectly for them.

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Kurt Shadle

I think when going to out their foot in it they may have tripped and gotten it in the face instead.

Sixuality
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Sixuality

Congratulations, Esports – you’ve made it! People beyond the internet pay attention to what you and your competitors do and say!

You’re just like real sports now. Is it everything you hoped it would be?