Bandai Namco and NetherRealm Studios Pulled Their IPs at the Same Time
Both Bandai Namco and NetherRealm Studios have announced that they will no longer be working with controversial esports organization WePlay. WePlay recently hosted big-budget events for Tekken 7, Soulcalibur VI, and Mortal Kombat 11, so this is quite the turnaround. The two companies made separate statements–that were published at the exact same time and sound suspiciously similar–citing vague differences in vision and professional standards as the reason for their decisions. Okay, so that’s a little odd, but the context surrounding WePlay puts this choice in a different light.
— Bandai Namco Esports (@BNEesports) April 30, 2021
— NetherRealm (@NetherRealm) April 30, 2021
WePlay began making waves in the fighting game community last year when it started handing out huge payouts to top players and ingratiating itself with talent. It also offered some of the first in-person competitions since the beginning of the pandemic. The organization;s most recent venture, the Ukraine-based Ultimate Fighting League, marketed itself as offering a prize pool that totaled $150,000 and promised to be an ongoing competitive venue. If that sounds too good to be true, that’s because it is. The controversy began earlier this month when WePlay’s connections to controversial gambling site 1xBet were revealed on Twitter by competitor and community organizer Josh “Icege” McWhorter. Long story short, 1xBet is banned from operating in the United Kingdom for a variety of offences. According to Kotaku, they include: “facilitating gambling on children’s sports in Kenya, advertising on illegal streaming sites, and promoting a so-called “pornhub casino” with topless female dealers.”
Yikes. As if that weren’t enough, 1xBet’s three alleged owners are apparently wanted by the Investigative Committee of the Russian Federation as of August 2020. No wonder Bandai Namco and NetherRealm Studios decided to get out when this came to light. As of writing, WePlay has Tweeted a reply to Bandai Namco and NetherRealm Studios claiming the whole thing took it by surprise, but it will continue to move forward.
— WUFL | #WePlayUFL (@WePlayUFL) April 30, 2021