Blizzard Entering Controversy Regarding Hong Kong Protests

Brian Kataro, Assistant Editor

Blizzard is undoubtedly one of the largest gaming corporations of the modern day, spanning a plethora of popular games, including Hearthstone, World of Warcraft, Overwatch, Diablo, and many more, enticing many millions of players each. Recently, however, it has come under fire by much of its community due to recent actions taken towards renowned Hearthstone player Ng Wai Chung, also known as Blitzchung.

According to The Daily Beast, Blizzard banned Blitzchung for a year after making the comment, “Liberate Hong Kong, revolution of our times” during an interview on his tournament wins. In addition to the ban, which already disqualified Blitzchung from receiving any revenue from any future official Hearthstone events, he was forced to forfeit the prize of $10,000 that he had already previously earned.

Almost immediately, Blizzard’s fanbase began lashing out against the company, rallying together a movement that quickly spread across countless social media sites, all the while using the hashtag #FreeHongKong and #BoycottBlizzard due to their response to Blitzchung’s actions. Many pointed towards the Chinese video game market being a very sizable portion of video game sales worldwide as the likely cause of Blizzard’s ban on Blitzchung, spewing forth countless comments on Blizzard caring more for their revenue over human rights. In addition, thousands documented the deactivation of their Blizzard accounts, meaning that players no longer were using Blizzard’s services or their games, something meant to harm its revenue and company. Many players also took creative liberties and rebranded a very famous Overwatch character, Mei, showing her dressed in pro- Hong Kong apparel. It quickly became prominent that players were angry, which led to a statement given out by Blizzard only a few days later.

As reported on by the Washington Post, Blizzard soon edited their earlier ban, now only suspending Blitzchung for six months rather than a whole year. Additionally, they put out an official statement by Blizzard Entertainment President J. Allen Brack concerning the nature of his ban, stating, “The specific views expressed by blitzchung were not a factor in the decision we made. I want to be clear: Our relationships in China had no influence on our decision. If this had been the opposing viewpoint delivered in the same divisive and deliberate way, we would have felt and acted the same.” Although the statement makes clear that they would have acted the same way whether or not a player were to support or denounce Hong Kong’s current civilian protests, people did not believe the company and saw their initial actions as a way to appease the Chinese government in order to still have a standing in their market.