Video game developer Moonton has been accused of providing an exclusivity contract to esports organizations that limits them to competing only in mobile MOBA game Mobile Legends: Bang Bang and prevents them from fielding teams for rival free-to-play game League of Legends: Wild Rift.
Based on a report by Wild Rift news outlet WRCompetitive, several esports organizations including Bigetron Esports may be required to release their Wild Rift rosters after signing a contract with Moonton.
A source who works within the esports industry confirmed in a Spin.ph report the existence of a “commercial contract” with Moonton that is optional but provides “revenue and benefits.”
“As some of the teams have a commercial cooperation with Moonton, they have revenue and benefits to earn from this agreement and are tied to an exclusive requirement on team branding,” the highly-placed source said.
Moonton, however, has yet to release an official statement on the matter.
Meanwhile, Riot Games Southeast Asia Esports Project Manager Ban “ChisinX” Chee reassured players that they are not restricting LOL: Wild Rift Southeast Asia esports teams from participating in any other mobile esports leagues.
“[W]e empower our teams to exercise freedom of choice in this space,” Chee said. This was in response to multiple inquiries regarding Wild Rift teams in Indonesia following the news of Moontoon’s apparent restrictions.
Team Secret CEO John Yao publicly responded to the rumor, saying that exclusivity deals could ultimately prove harmful to esports organizations.
“Kind of amusing that Mobile Legends teams are not allowed to have Wild Rift divisions, but in Mobile Legends itself Evos can have 30 teams, RSG can have 20 teams, Onic can have 10 teams, etc. I mean literally the regional competitions frequently have sister team vs sister team in the same tournament, which is far below global standards,” Yao wrote.
He said that Moonton should be compensating players enough to warrant an exclusivity deal.
“Cannot be good from a healthy ecosystem or competitive integrity standpoint. Even for orgs, investing in multiple games is integral to survival, so I certainly hope ML is paying really well enough to justify signing away exclusivity.”
Esports organizations possibly affected by the rumored exclusivity contract include Alter Ego, Bigetron Esports, Evos Esports, Geek Fam, Nexplay Esports, Onic Esports, RRQ, and Smart Omega.
Mobile Legends, released in July 2016, has recorded more than a billion downloads as of November 2020. Its relatively younger competitor LOL: Wild Rift, released only last year, has tallied at least 32 million downloads as of April 2021.
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