Some vocal Blizzard community members have been calling for boycotts of their products after Hearthstone pro Chung ‘Blitzchung’ Ng Wai was suspended for supporting the ongoing Hong Kong protests.
UPDATE: October 8 at 9:55 PM
#BlizzardBoycott trends on Twitter after growing backlash over the company’s decision to suspend Blitzchung for his comments supporting the protests in Hong Kong.
Original story below:
During an interview at the GrandMasters tournament, Blitzchung wore a gas mask and stated: “Liberate Hong Kong, revolution of our times” – a popular slogan adopted by protesters in Hong Kong. Protestors in Hong Kong are demonstrating over the introduction of the Fugitive Offenders amendment bill proposed by the Hong Kong government. This would allow local authorities to detain and extradite criminals who are wanted in countries like Taiwan and mainland China.
According to Blizzard, this was in violation of Section 6.1 (o) of the rulebook regarding actions that could damage the company’s image. As a result, Blitzchung has been suspended for a year and his prize money was reduced to $0. (Timestamp 35:00 for mobile users)
The online backlash for Blizzard has been swift with many criticizing the company of going out of their way to appease the Chinese government. Many online have claimed they are deleting Blizzard titles as a form of protest in solidarity with Blitzchung.
On Reddit, a player named Poobs87 said that he is quitting Hearthstone despite playing since 2014.
The user, clearly enraged by Blizzard’s actions was awarded Reddit Gold for his post by another member of the site.
The post has 9.1K upvotes at the time of this posting.
In a different post, Redditor RetrospecTuaL said that he too has played since 2014, but this was his last day on Hearthstone.
Another post encouraged users to stop playing the game. The post – which is titled “Quitting HS over this nonsense. This is about more than just Hong Kong” – tells users that by continuing to play the game they’re supporting China and Blizzard’s actions.
A popular post with 2.4K upvotes accused Blizzard of only caring about the Chinese market.
UltimaterializerX said: “The censorship of art was bad enough. The censorship of human life is indefensible. Finding videos of what’s going on in HK is easy and I suggest everyone do so. It’s Tiananmen Square all over again.”
The user went on to imply that if the comment was made about another politician, such as US President Donald Trump, Blizzard’s actions wouldn’t be as severe.
Other companies have even taken shots at Blizzard for their treatment of Blitzchung. On Twitter, digital card game Gods Unchained revealed they would pay for all of his lost winnings and invite him to their $500,000 tournament.
The company added that they believe no player should be punished for what they believe and accused Blizzard of caring more about money than freedom.
.@Blizzard_Ent just banned @blitzchungHS and stripped his Hearthstone winnings because they care about money more than freedom. We will pay for ALL his lost winnings and a ticket to our $500k tournament: no player should be punished for their beliefs. #freegaming https://t.co/ONvtkG4x9G
— Gods Unchained (@GodsUnchained) October 8, 2019
However, not everyone within the company seems to be on the same page. Former Blizzard employee and Guangzhou Charge social media person Kevin Hovdestad posted a photo of the “core values” outside the game studio’s office.
Both the “Think Globally” and “Every Voice Matters” values had been covered up. It’s unclear whether Hovdestad took the photo himself or if someone sent it to him.
It will be interesting to see what actions, if any, Blizzard takes to quell the controversy.