In this week’s news, Riot Games enters into (and then cancels) a a sponsorship deal with the controversial Saudi megacity Neom, Nintendo undergoes a massive “gigaleak” of old data, and the U.S. government grills big tech in antitrust hearings.
Riot Games faces criticism for Saudi megacity partnership
Riot came under fire over the last week after the League of Legends European Championship (LEC), one of the most popular esports leagues in the world, announced a sponsorship deal with the controversial Saudi megacity Neom. The developer announced today that the city would become one of the “main sponsors” for the league, joining the likes of Kit Kat and Kia. The Verge and ScreenRant both reported on the widespread backlash the company faced for the partnership, with fans and journalists both pointing out criticisms of Neom. Neom is a Saudi Arabian project sponsored by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who has been suspected of ordering the killing of a journalist, Jamal Khashoggi, who had been vocal in his criticism of Prince Salman. Saudia Arabia as a country has also been criticized for its human rights violations, with particularly aggressive behavior towards minority groups in the LGBTQ community as well as with women in general, which many were quick to point out. Later in the week, Forbes and Engadget both reported that Riot had decided to cancel the deal, with both noting that fans and internal members of the LEC team were largely happy that the deal had been cancelled, but still disappointed that it had been made in the first place.
Nintendo faces massive leak of old code
In late July, anonymous users on internet bulletin board 4chan started posting files purporting to show source code and development repositories of over a dozen classic Nintendo games, from Super Mario World and a canceled Zelda 2 remake to Super Mario 64 and The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time. Since then, fans have pored over the files and are flooding social media with all sorts of previously unreleased information. Polygon posted a massive recap of all of the leaks, and what has been revealed thus far. Vice published a deep dive exploring the potential sources of the leaks. Business Insider published a piece focusing on the fact that Luigi was initially supposed to be part of Super Mario 64, and Polygon released a feature on an Animal Crossing villager who was never actually revealed.
Big tech faces off with U.S. government in antitrust hearings
The chief executives of Amazon.com Inc., Facebook Inc., Apple Inc. and Alphabet Inc.’s Google faced relentless criticism at a congressional hearing Wednesday, with Democrats and Republicans alike challenging their business practices over more than five contentious hours. Most lawmakers cited internal company emails and witness interviews as evidence that the platforms improperly abuse their dominant position, while a handful of GOP representatives harped on perceived anti-conservative biases present on social media platforms. WIRED noted that the politicians seemed to have a better grasp on the technology behind these platforms than in previous hearings on similar issues, and that the government seems to be taking this issue more seriously this time around. The Wall Street Journal noted that the tone of the hearings were overwhelmingly hostile, and that many of the politicians regularly interrupted executives from the tech companies. Slate noticed that most of the questions were directed to Amazon, Alphabet and Facebook, and wondered why more attention was not paid to Apple’s Tim Cook.