Riot Games cancels NEOM partnership after LEC backlash - Dexerto
League of Legends

Riot Games cancels new NEOM partnership after LEC community backlash

Published: 30/Jul/2020 2:59 Updated: 30/Jul/2020 10:46

by Isaac McIntyre


Riot Games has canceled the LEC’s partnership deal with NEOM, following the near-unified fan backlash the European competition received after announcing Saudi Arabia’s smart-city as a main broadcast sponsor for the remainder of the league’s Summer split.

Both Riot and the LEC were met with harsh criticism after unveiling the latest broadcast deal for the LEC on July 29. Now, less than 24 hours after the initial announcement ⁠— and a huge wave of community backlash ⁠— Riot has officially canceled the sponsorship agreement.


“As a company and as a league, we know that it’s important to recognize when we make mistakes and quickly work to correct them,” Riot’s director of esports Alberto Guerrero said in a release shared on on July 29.

“After further reflection, while we remain steadfastly committed to all of our players and fans worldwide, including those living in Saudi Arabia and the Middle East, the LEC has ended its partnership with NEOM, effective immediately.


“In an effort to expand our esports ecosystem, we moved too quickly to cement this partnership and caused rifts in the very community we seek to grow. While we missed our own expectations in this instance, we’re committed to re-examining our internal structures to ensure this doesn’t happen again.”

Riot Games LEC host Sjokz condemned NEOM as a partner.
Riot Games
LEC host Sjokz and the entire production team were unified in their condemnation of Riot’s new NEOM partnership.

NEOM was sold as a partnership that would “future-proof” LEC’s stage. The package also included an ‘Oracle Lens’ segment, which would have focused on “predicting future moves” during each match. The deal would have run until the end of Summer playoffs.

The cross-border NEOM mega-city development is publicly backed by Saudi Arabia. The country has already provided more than $500 billion worth of funding for the development, which aims to attract one million new residents.


Saudi Arabia also partnered with Counter-Strike tournament organizers BLAST earlier this week, to little fanfare. BLAST chief executive Robbie Douek reportedly categorized the new partnership as a “record deal” for the CSGO company.

BLAST Premier
BLAST has yet to comment on its new NEOM sponsorship agreement after the original announcement.

LEC has retained the rest of its broadcast sponsorship slate, which includes Secretlab, KitKit, Kia Motors, Alienware, Foot Locker, and Shell. The European competition also recently inked a deal with Erste Group Bank as a main partner.


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.