Blizzard suspends pro gamer from competition over Hong Kong comments
Oct 12 2019
In a post-match interview on the official Asia pacific Hearthstone Grandmasters livestream, he shouted "liberate Hong Kong, revolution of our age!"
Blitzchung is yet to comment on the ban. After the incident he released a statement explaining his stance, writing "I know what my action on stream means".
Chung declined to comment to Cnet but told InvenGlobal before he was banned that he felt it was "his duty to say something about the issue".
Blizzard responded by removing the player from the tournament, withdrawing all his prize money and banning him from participating in Hearthstone esports for 12 months. I don't understand Mandarin, but viewer Chua Zhihong claimed on Twitter that the casters said "say the eight words, then we'll end the interview immediately". Customers are boycotting the company, and declaring their support for Chung and the pro-democracy demonstrators through the #BoycottBlizzard hashtag - including numerous posted screenshots showing Blizzard products deleted from their personal computers.
It is important to note that Blizzard is partly-owned by a Chinese company named Tencent. For years now, the gaming company has been building up a business in China through its hit series WarCraft, Diablo, and StarCraft.
The anger has also invoked the ire of politicians, with United States senator Ron Wyden tweeting "Blizzard shows it is willing to humiliate to please the Chinese Communist Party" and adding "No American company should censor calls for freedom to make a quick buck". As a matter of fact, another protest happened on an official Hearthstone stream. Unfortunately for Activision Blizzard, it can not control the massive backlash on Hearthstone's popular community subreddit.
While the Hong Kong protests have emboldened the downtrodden (and safer populaces abroad), the merit of the demonstrations has changed somewhat, as their fight for freedom has gone corporate elsewhere.
It isn't merely adjusting a cosmetic part of the product to fit a particular market; it's actively participating in the suppression of political speech on behalf of core liberal values.
The status of Hong Kong is a sore subject for the Chinese government.
Blizzard and its subsidiaries rake in billions of dollars annually in revenue, making them one of the most successful video game studios in the world. He's absolutely right about what's at stake here.
The company doubled down in further tweets, saying that one of the advantages behind a decentralised model was precisely to ensure players' assets couldn't be taken away at the whims of others. It's not a disagreement over tax policy or social justice or any of the things people have a right to disagree about.