NetherRealm, Bandai Namco Distance from WePlay for Esports Events

Mortal Kombat developer NetherRealm Studios and Bandai Namco ban the use of their titles in WePlay tournaments following a controversial decision.

Mortal Kombat developer NetherRealm Studios announced today that the studio will no longer allow its games to be played at WePlay esports events. WePlay is an esports tournament organizer for many of the top fighting games including Mortal Kombat 11 and Tekken 7. Although NetherRealm does not indicate the reason for the distancing, the announcement has come shortly after a controversial decision by WePlay.

ESL and WePlay recently announced a global esports betting partnership with controversial betting company 1xBet. The betting company is largely believed to be a scam and has a number of violations and criminal investigations. 1xBet had its UK license revoked for violations including advertising on illegal websites, bets on children’s sports, and promoting a pornographic online casino.


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The betting company’s alleged founders have also been put on the international wanted list by the UK. With so many allegations and a criminal investigation, it is surprising that ESL and WePlay would engage in such a partnership. The partnership was announced at the end of March, but now the repercussions are hitting in waves. Not only did Mortal Kombat developer NetherRealm restrict the use of its games, but Japanese developer Bandai Namco also made a similar announcement at the same time as NetherRealm.

Bandai Namco is the developer behind both Tekken and Soul Caliber, games WePlay has utilized in past tournaments. Now that both Bandai and NetherRealm have distanced from the esports organizer, fighting game tournaments may shift to a different organizer.


WePlay recently set up the Ultimate Fighting League, a tournament featuring the best fighting game players taking each other on across three different titles. The first “season” of the tournament ran from March 25 to April 11 with a $150,000 prize pool. However, it seems that the first tournament will also be the last. The three fighting titles included in the tournament were Mortal Kombat 11, Soul Caliber 6, and Tekken 7. With WePlay banned from using the fighting titles, the Ultimate Fighting League will likely be short lived.

If the distancing by developers is in fact due to the controversial business practices of WePlay’s newest partnership, it would not be the first time the esports community took action against controversial partnerships. In 2020, Riot Games announced a partnership with the Saudi Arabian city of Neom. The partnership was dissolved after 24 hours due to backlash from the community as well as Riot employees for the alleged human rights violations by the Crown Prince of the country.


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About The Author Bishop Lister (406 Articles Published)

Bishop is a writer and sports data analyst. Born and raised in Arizona, he is a graduate of Arizona State University in Sports Business with a minor in Digital Media. He enjoys a variety of video game genres including fighting, RPGs, sports, and more.

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NetherRealm, Bandai Namco Distance from WePlay for Esports Events

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