Blizzard who has remained silent since ban of Pro Heartstone Player Chung, has stated they are reassessing.
Blizzard is considering its options as fans around the globe react to its decision to ban Hearthstone esports player Ng Wai Chung, known professionally as Blitzchung, after he voiced support for the protests in Hong Kong during a live post-match interview, according to source: Engadget.
If you want the skinny on how this whole thing got started, you can read the details here. However in short, over the weekend, video game publisher Blizzard banned professional Hearthstone player Ng Wai “blitzchung” Chung from the 2019 Hearthstone Grandmasters Official Competition after he showed support for the Hong Kong protests in an interview.
The move was seen as an example of yet another US company bending the knee to China. Social media exploded in outrage after the news of Ng’s ban broke, with many calling for a boycott against Blizzard’s other games and against Activision Blizzard (ATVI), Blizzard’s parent company.
Players have posted images of them uninstalling or cancelling subscriptions to hugely popular (and profitable) Blizzard games like World of Warcraft, Starcraft, Diablo and Overwatch.
Reddit and Twitter users are also turning Mei, a Chinese character in Overwatch, into a nose-thumbing symbol for the Hong Kong protests via the medium of fan art.
Even the company employees have seemingly taken sides on the controversy. According to former employee Kevin Hovdestad, the orc statue in front of the company’s Irvine, California campus, which is etched with various company values, was used as a form of protest by current employees. Specifically, they covered up the plaques that read “Think Globally” and “Every Voice Matters.”
In addition to its own employees, Blizzard has been blasted with criticism from lawmakers, other game developers, and its player communities. On Tuesday, Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR) said, “Blizzard shows it is willing to humiliate itself to please the Chinese Communist Party.” He continued, “No American company should censor calls for freedom to make a quick buck.”
Epic Games has also weighed in on Blizzard’s decision and said that unlike Blizzard, it won’t censor for China. Epic Games, the developer of Fortnite, told The Verge that it would support the speech rights of its players and refuse to ban them for their political beliefs. “Epic supports everyone’s right to express their views on politics and human rights,” a company spokesperson said.
The story has been covered on major news outlets like the New York Times, NPR, and Bloomberg. Pressure is mounting on Blizzard as the rest of the world speaks up while it has remained silent. However you look at this, it’s turning into something that’s bigger than just a single Hearthstone tournament. And the world looks to Blizzard for their next response.