BLAST cease partnership with NEOM following massive backlash - Dexerto

BLAST cease partnership with NEOM following massive backlash

Published: 12/Aug/2020 21:59

by Albert Petrosyan


Danish tournament organizers BLAST have reportedly ended their partnership with the Saudi Arabian futuristic city called NEOM after facing major criticism from the esports community as well as internal partners.

On August 12, as first reported by HLTV, it appears that the BLAST have terminated their partnership with NEOM on “mutual agreement.” The tournament organizers had been receiving backlash after announcing the partnership on July 28, one that many in the world of esports deemed to be controversial.


NEOM is a fully man-made mega-city project backed by Saudi Arabia, who have invested more than $500 billion in development with the aim of attracting a million new residents.

However, due to its affiliation with the middle eastern country, the organization has come under heavy scrutiny from a human rights standpoint since it’s announcement in January 2019, something which inevitably spilled over to BLAST once they’d brokered their deal.


This comes after many prominent members of the CS:GO community, including the likes of  Duncan ‘Thorin’ Shields, Jason ‘Moses’ O’Toole, Frankie Ward, Harry ‘JustHarry’ Russell, and Hugo Byron hit out at BLAST, calling the deal a “disgrace.”

“The BLAST x NEOM deal is an opportunity to educate ourselves so that we no longer work with people who would kill our friends,” Frankie tweeted. She included a link to a “map of countries that criminalize LGBT people.”

Similarly, Moses, formerly a top CS:GO commentator who recently joined Team Liquid as a coach, strongly criticized the partnership and expressed his disappointments in a long email that was published by DBLTAP.


Astralis, the CS:GO juggernaut that’s one of BLAST’s partner teams, also expressed their reservations about the partnership, as CEO Anders Hørsholt called it “unacceptable” and threatened to withdraw his team from any future tournaments hosted by the organization.

While Astralis were the only partner to publicly denounce the deal, HLTV reports that “most began to voice their concerns in private,” with Complexity CEO, Jason Lake, even going as far as to reveal that none of the partners had been made aware of the decision prior to making it public.

BLAST are now the second major force in esports to partner up with NEOM and subsequently end things shortly thereafter. Riot Games, who faced major criticism after brokering a deal between the LEC and the smart-city developers, terminated the agreement less than 24 hours after the announcement.


Just as with BLAST, Riot were scrutinized by many of the League of Legends esports on-air broadcast talent before Director of Esports, Alberto Guerrero, conceded that they’d made “mistakes” and “quickly worked to correct them.”

At the time of writing Danish tournament organizers have not yet made any such public statements regarding the status of their partnership with NEOM.


EA removes FIFA 21 ad selling loot boxes to children after backlash

Published: 1/Oct/2020 5:30 Updated: 1/Oct/2020 5:47

by Bill Cooney


September 30 update (9:30pm PT): EA has pulled the advertisement from all toy magazines, including the one shown in Smyths, promoting buying FIFA points in the lead-up to FIFA 21.

They have also apologized for not upholding their “responsibility we take for the experience of our younger players.”


“We take very seriously the responsibilities we have when marketing EA games and experiences in channels seen by children,” they told Eurogamer in a statement.

Earlier: EA is under fire after users on the internet posted pictures of advertisements for FIFA 21 in-game purchases placed inside a children’s toy magazine.


It’s that time of year again, the air is getting cooler, the holidays are fast approaching, and there’s a new FIFA game about to come out on October 6.

In the year 2020 it’s not strange at all to see ads for video games amongst other kinds of toys in your usual holiday catalogs (if you don’t already do all your shopping online). However ads for in-game transactions and not the games themselves are becoming more and more common, and people don’t seem to be too thrilled with the idea.

On Sept. 26 A Twitter account by the name of AllFifamistakes posted a picture from one of the latest in-store magazines for UK company Smyths Toys. The ad, for FIFA’s popular Ultimate Team mode, lists four steps for players to play FUT, with the second being “use FIFA points to open packs.”


As any good FUT player knows, FIFA Points are the digital currency that is used specifically for that mode to unlock player packs, which are basically random loot boxes containing player cards and other upgrades.

Enough arguments have been made for and against loot boxes being a form of gambling than we could list in a series of articles, but they are one of the most unpopular features in modern-day gaming, and seen as a way for companies to keep cashing in on consumers after the fork out the sticker price just to play the game.

The fact that it’s in a toy magazine where a kid will most likely see it and bother his or her parent about buying them FIFA Points for some player packs is what seems to have ticked most people off, with some accusing EA of promoting gambling to their younger fans. However, this isn’t even the first FIFA game to employ such marketing tactics.


As you can see above, EA SPORTS has been advertising using FIFA Points to open packs as part of their “four steps to FUT success” for at least a year now, with the exact same wording appearing on adverts for FIFA 20 back around holiday season 2019.

Like gambling itself, it doesn’t seem as though loot boxes will be going away any time soon no matter how unpopular they may be, but people obviously aren’t too fond of ads for them being waved under kids’ noses.