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Apex Legends won’t censor game for Saudi Arabia esports tournament, Respawn says

Apex Legends developer Respawn has told fans it will not change the game to block certain characters and cosmetics from being played during the Esports World Cup in Saudi Arabia this summer, despite concerns over how the country might censor the battle royale’s diverse character roster.

Earlier this month, the Esports World Cup social media feed announced that Apex Legends had “[entered] the arena”, stating only the “best will compete for fame, fortune, and glory” at the Riyadh-based tournament.

This revelation was immediately met with ire from the Apex Legends community. Fans pointed to the contradiction of a country notorious for its poor LGBTQ+ rights hosting a tournament featuring Respawn’s inclusive battle royale, which includes many playable LGBTQ+ characters, as well as Pride cosmetics.

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“How are you gonna hold a tournament for a game that emphasises the inclusion of the LGBTQ+ community in a country that persecutes the very same community,” one reply to the announcement reads.

Another adds: “Super disappointing that the World Cup is being held in a country that is incredibly unsafe for a large portion of the esports community. Hope they learn from this egregious mistake moving forward and choose more suitable hosts.”

Several other posters worried that a number of Apex Legends’ Legends such as Catalyst – the series’ first trans character – would not be playable in the country.

Respawn has since responded to this outcry from its community, stating that no limits would be placed on gameplay during the event.

“We are not changing the game – all Legends will be playable,” the Apex Legends team told Kotaku, before adding: “No Apex Legends content, Legend or Cosmetic, will be restricted at the EWC event.”

The Esports World Cup is not the only tournament-based controversy Apex Legends has had to deal with this year.

Back in March, a hacking incident occurred during the Apex Legends Global Series that resulted in the tournament being halted for safety concerns.

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