Big pharma recently manufactured the world’s first bro super villain in the form of Martin Shkreli. The Turing Pharmaceuticals CEO made headlines for raising the price of the life-saving drug Daraprim, which helps AIDS patients and others with compromised immune systems avoid toxoplasmosis, from $13.50 to $750 per tablet. His name became a curse word on Twitter yesterday, but it wasn’t new to esports fans, who already considered Shkreli a force for evil.
Earlier this year, Shrkeli entered professional eSports by signing several notable League of Legends pros into his Challenger Series team Imagine and acquiring the Dota 2 pro squad Team Leviathan. An eSports fan, Shkreli stated his intentions to become a “new leader in esports” and “to change the landscape of competitive gaming as we know it.”
The eSports industry is projected to earn $465 million in revenue in 2017, so his incentive went beyond ego.
Concerns over Shrkeli’s presence were raised almost immediately. Before his price gouging at Turing, Shkreli was the CEO of Retrophin and was accused of similar practices with Thiola, a prescription drug used to treat cystinuria, unethical advertising of company drugs over Twitter, and short selling competitors’ stocks. Shkreli deflected these accusations as “untrue at best and defamatory at worst.” But eSports commentators and competitors weren’t buying it.
On Reddit’s r/leagueoflegends thread opinions of the CEO divided months ago. While some questioned his past, others saw no reason for uproar. “So what if he’s got a history of potentially nefarious business tactics? What bearing does that have on him owning an esports brand? I’m sorry but I don’t see the relevance” wrote user OldUncleEli.
“I’ll withhold judgment on the guy until we see how he handles his new organization. We’ll man the pitchforks if he starts mistreating players” replied HolypenguinHere.
“While his character is questionable, who are we to judge what he can or cannot do with his money?” wrote user DinDinTime.
Now, in light of his recent actions at Turing, a consensus is forming. “If leshrac, storm, bloodseeker, techies, tusk and 5 other heroes I hate were in the same room as this guy and I had a gun with 11 bullets I’d shoot him 11 times” read a comment in r/Dota2.
Despite the public outcry against Shkreli, his actions are not illegal. The FDA does not have legal authority to control the prices charged for marketed drugs. That said, common decency and care for your fellow man are things — inside and outside the gaming community. Shkreli has shown neither and so eSports may have it’s first well-known heel. He may be detestable, but he’ll be fun to root against.