Riot blocks League of Legends players in Iran and Syria following US sanctions

League of Legends has been banned in Iran and Syria as tensions between the two countries and the United States continue to rise. The ban – which came into effect on June 22, 2019 – has rolled out as part of trade sanctions imposed by the U.S., forcing Riot to block players from sanctioned countries. 

“Due to U.S. laws and regulations, players in your country cannot access League of Legends at this time,” the message states, as shared by an Iranian player on the official LoL forums  (thanks, Dot Esports). “Such restrictions are subject to change by the U.S. government, so if and when that happens, we will look forward to having you back on the rift.”

While Riot has not formally commented on the changes, a thread on the forums did receive a response from a site moderator. 

“As mentioned in another thread, this is not a Riot Games policy, but rather a restriction placed due to current US laws and regulations that Riot – as a US company – is required to follow. This unfortunately impacts the players, Riot, and everyone who enjoys League in that area, and I think we’ll all hopeful that the political problems that caused this (which, as per board rules, are not acceptable discussion here) are resolved in such a way that everyone in that area can have access to League again.”

Whilst revoking access to League of Legends was initially thought to be the first such instance of video game sanctions, players from Iran and Syria have since confirmed that the sanctions also affect access to other online games, including Rocket League, The Division 2, and Apex Legends, forcing many to either stop playing entirely, or utilise costly VPNs to sidestep the ban. The Epic Store is also not available in sanctioned countries, too.

About Vikki Blake

It took 15 years of civil service monotony for Vikki to crack and switch to writing about games. She has since become an experienced reporter and critic working with a number of specialist and mainstream outlets in both the UK and beyond, including Eurogamer, GamesRadar+, IGN, MTV, and Variety.

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