Apex Legends video game tournament airing delayed following mass shootings

Aug 9, 2019, 11:51 AM
Apex Legends ESPN...
ESPN hosted the first ever Apex Legends esports tournament on August 2 and 3 in Minneapolis, and the network was scheduled to air coverage for the first part of the event. But coverage has been delayed to October, a source familiar with the situation told CNN Business. Photo: Sean M Haffey/Getty Images

(CNN) — ESPN hosted the first-ever Apex Legends esports tournament on August 2 and 3 in Minneapolis, and the network was scheduled to air coverage for the first part of the event this Sunday. But coverage has been delayed to October, a source familiar with the situation told CNN Business.

The source said ESPN decided to delay airing the tournament immediately after the mass shootings last weekend in El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio. The source called the move a wise decision. Apex Legends is a battle royale shooter game owned by Electronic Arts that looks more realistic than its rival Fortnite.

The tournament will now air on October 6, 15 and 27. Videos of the tournament are still available for viewing on ESPN’s YouTube channel.

The Apex Legends tournament was also scheduled to air on ABC, which, like ESPN, is owned by Disney. In an email screenshot by esports and gaming consultant Rod Breslau, who spotted the news, ABC wrote that it would no longer air the game on Sunday “out of respect for the victims and all those impacted by the recent shootings.” CNN Business has not independently confirmed the authenticity of the email. ABC did not respond to a request for comment.

Electronic Arts has invested in esports events to broaden the appeal of Apex Legends.

In the wake of the two mass shootings, President Donald Trump and others have been blaming video games for encouraging gun violence. But experts and scientific studies say that there’s insufficient evidence that violent games lead to mass shootings in real life.

Earlier this week, when reached for comment on Republican concerns that video games could cause gun violence, Electronic Arts directed CNN Business to a statement from the Entertainment Software Association (ESA).

“Numerous scientific studies have established that there is no causal connection between video games and violence,” the ESA said. “More than 165 million Americans enjoy video games, and billions of people play video games worldwide. Yet other societies, where video games are played as avidly, do not contend with the tragic levels of violence that occur in the U.S.”

In Apex, players parachute into a virtual island, wielding guns and shooting each other until one surviving team remains. The game is rated for 13 and older, because of depictions of blood and violence.

ESPN’s director of business development, Kevin Lopes, told CNN Business in June that the network was attracted to the game due to its teen rating.

“We wanted a title that was teen-rated, that we thought we could play in the teen space,” Lopes said. “Personally, I think the game is fun…The gameplay, the game style, the characters could fit well with the esports audience.”

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Apex Legends video game tournament airing delayed following mass shootings