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ESPN Postpones Airing 'Apex Legends' Tournament Because of Mass Shootings

After Walmart pulled signage for violent video games, ESPN and ABC will not air a competitive tournament for Respawn Entertainment's popular battle royale shooter.

by Nicole Carpenter
Aug 9 2019, 4:02pm

ESPN has postponed coverage of a competitive tournament for the popular shooter game Apex Legends scheduled to air this weekend.

The EXP Invitational - Apex Legends tournament at X Games Minneapolis was held from August 2 to 3 during the X Games, but coverage was scheduled to air on ABC and ESPN on August 10 and 11. Esports insider Rod Breslau first reported the decision on August 8, and a source with direct knowledge of the decision told VICE that it was made out of respect for the victims and others impacted by mass shootings in El Paso, Texas and Dayton, Ohio.

Following the shootings, President Trump and other government officials partly blamed "gruesome and grisly video games" for the deadly incidents. This week, Walmart asked employees to remove signage and playable demos for violent video games. Employees were also request to remove hunting videos from displays, too.

Apex Legends is a first-person online shooter in the battle royale genre (similar to Fortnite), where players are dropped onto an island and fight to be the last team standing. The X Games event is Apex Legends' most high profile event so far. Taped coverage of the event will air on ESPN 2 in October. Video from the event has also been archived on ESPN Esports' Twitch channel. Spokespeople for ABC, Respawn Entertainment, and Electronic Arts were not immediately available for comment.

Research suggests that video games don't cause violent crime, including one study that suggested violent crime actually goes down when a popular new video game is released. (Video games have been criticized, however, for harboring a toxic and abusive culture. That certainly deserves interrogation, along with the gaming industry’s ties to firearm manufacturers who see gamers as potential customers.)

Regardless, the argument that video games are to blame for horrific gun violence is one that's been pushed for years. In fact, this very scenario has happened before: in 2016, German television channel ProSieben MAXX pulled coverage of ELEAGUE's Counter-Strike: Global Offensive finals following a mass shooting in the country.

President Trump has blamed mass shootings on video games before, and it’s likely that he—or another politician—will again. Meanwhile, retailers such as Walmart still sell guns, and mass shootings continue to occur.

Update: Originally, the headline for this story was "ESPN Won't Air 'Apex Legends' Tournament Because of Mass Shootings." We've updated the headline to "ESPN Postpones 'Apex Legends' Tournament Because of Mass Shootings" to make clear that ESPN 2 will be airing the tournament in October, though it will not air at its previously scheduled time because of the shootings.