League of Legends: Iran players say US sanctions have blocked the game


League of Legends

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League of Legends players in Iran have reported being blocked from playing the game due to US sanctions on the country.

Players in Iran have been sharing their experiences in League forums online.

Due to rising tensions at the moment, the US has imposed tough new sanctions on Iran.

That’s when trading with other countries is blocked, or costs so much that businesses in the country with sanctions can’t do it.

Now, it appears those penalties have extended to online gaming as well.

“Due to US laws and regulations, players in your country cannot access League of Legends at this time,” says a message shared on the game’s forums, where a player shared a message he claims he received when trying to log on to play in Iran.

“Such restrictions are subject to change by the US government, so if and when that happens, we look forward to having you back on the Rift,” it continued.

Why would sanctions affect online gaming?

Computer games themselves aren’t sanctioned says Joseph Finn, a sanctions adviser for a London-based insurance broker – it’s League of Legends subscription service that could be affected by the situation between the two countries.

Riot Games, who makes League of Legends, are based in California, US.

“You’re paying a monthly subscription and it’s a US company with US systems involved,” Joseph tells Newsbeat.

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Image caption

League of Legends is one of the world’s biggest esports games, but also has a huge following of non-professional players

US companies have to declare their earnings to the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), which could flag that they are making money from subscriptions or in-game purchases from people in Iran.

“It’s a risk Riot Games don’t want to be open to, which could make them cut their ties to Iran,” Joseph adds.

“SEC might ask what vetting process is being done to make sure they’re not getting money from a sanctioned person in Iran.

“Riot Games probably doesn’t want to be fined for doing something it shouldn’t be doing.”

‘Gamers have nothing to do with this’

The gamer who first posted about the block said they were “shocked” to be unable to play.

“Political problems between Iran and America is between governments,” they wrote.

“Players and people have nothing to to with this.”

Other gamers from Iran have also posted on the League of Legends forums pleading with the US government to rethink extending sanctions to gamers.

But Joseph says that prompting forum posts like this, with people asking for a change in international relations, is one of the intentions of sanctions.

Newsbeat has contacted Riot Games, who make League of Legends, for comment on the alleged ban, but it has yet to respond.

We’ve also contacted The White House for an official statement, it has not responded either.

In 2012, when the US previously imposed sanctions on Iran, players of World of Warcraft reported that they were unable to play the game due to the restrictions.

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