Following Blizzard, Riot Games forbids professional League of Legends players and commentators from discussing politics

What you need to know

  • Hong Kong is in the midst of protests as citizens fight to stay independent from China's communist government.
  • Earlier in the week, Blizzard banned a pro Hearthstone player for voicing support of Hong Kong.
  • Riot Games has followed suit and now forbids League of Legends player and commentators from discussing politics on air.

Blizzard found itself in hot water this week after banning pro Hearthstone player Chung "Blitzchung" Ng Wai from competition for a year and stripping him of his earnings after he voiced support for Hong Kong during a recent esports tournament. This was met by backlash from both outside and within the company for appeasing the Chinese government, but was largely met with silence from other companies. Riot Games has now spoken out, and it looks to make the situation even worse as the studio has forbid professional League of Legends Players and commentators from discussing politics on air.

Related: After thousands of hours in World of Warcraft, Jez is boycotting Blizzard

John Needham, Global Head of League of Legends esports, put forth a statement on Twitter that summed up the company's policy on talking about "sensitive issues."

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Riot Games is owned by Tencent, one of the world's largest and most lucrative gaming companies based in China. Though Riot insists on not picking sides and remaining neutral, it's clear where this statement is truly coming from and who it is in support of.

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Jennifer Locke has been playing video games nearly her entire life, and is very happy Xbox is growing a stronger first-party portfolio. You can find her obsessing over Star Wars and other geeky things on Twitter @JenLocke95.

  • I love that these companies are just asking to be boycotted. They think they are too big to fail. Hopefully they are proven wrong.
  • If they retain the Chinese market they aren't going to miss the Western world.
  • I doubt it. China isn't that big. It would. Be the exact opposite if that was the case.
  • Wait what China isn't that big... Man go get a few lessons in consumer market expensions over the past decades, some financial investment knowledge and a twist of global economic... China is the most important market for entertainment... And is growing fast...
  • US: Console (digital + physical) > phone > PC.
    EU: Console (digital + physical) > PC > Phone.
    Asia: Phone > PC >>>> Console (digital + physical). If you know Asia countries, you'd know
    1. Console isn't popular outside Japan.
    2. Console market in Japan is shrinking YoY.
    3. PC gaming isn't popular in Japan. And I can tell you,
    1. PC market in Asia is twice as big as PC in US.
    2. PC in EU is sllllightly bigger than PC in US.
  • China successfully exported censorship to US.
  • Well I think riot games as the Wright approach.... Instead of taking sides and risking to have their owner and the Chinese gov on their ass or to have their western customers enraged over a matter they honestly know nothing about and didn't care much for for the most part before blizzard stunt., they chose to say "just don't talk about politics" and to be fair LOL is really not the right platform for that... That way they don't take position, they don't butt hurt anyone and they keep everything focused on the game
  • Only problem to this 'hands-off' approach is that, in the end, we are all affected. It may not be apparent right now, but for sure, when sovereign governments fall out, everyone - including apparently insignificant video game companies and players are affected. One cannot always look the other way especially in matters like this. It's a dicey situation to balance for sure. I definitely don't envy those involved!
  • The LOL players can still politically express themselves just not use a video-game as a platform for it... I use to have a business with several hundreds subscribers I never allowed political debate on my business FB page or other communications support we had... It just wasn't the place for it...
  • I agree. Yea is this coming off of the Blizzard problems but its frankly a good standard policy. Its also what all entertainment should be doing. Stop shoving politics into everything. People are coming to watch this stuff whether its a videogame or a football game not people's personal views on politics.
  • I agree 100 percent
  • Arrrr.... China shoves politics into everything
  • The hands off approach is how we got into this mess. Its not neutral, it favors China. And the way China treats Hong Kong isn't a political opinion, its an objective evil.