Blizzard has faced much criticism over its handling of Hearthstone player Ng Wai Chung, better known as “blitzchung,” as they suspended him for a year and took away his winnings over the year for showing support for the Hong Kong protesters.
The controversy has only grown and the critics now include competing game companies, sitting U.S senators and even employees of Blizzard themselves.
Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Florida) tweeted a criticism of the move saying, “China is using access to market as leverage to crush free speech globally.” Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Oregon) was even more blunt, saying that Blizzard is “willing to humiliate itself to please the Chinese Communist Party. No American company should censor calls for freedom to make a quick buck.”
Recognize what’s happening here. People who don’t live in #China must either self censor or face dismissal & suspensions. China using access to market as leverage to crush free speech globally. Implications of this will be felt long after everyone in U.S. politics today is gone. https://t.co/Cx3tkWc7r6
— Marco Rubio (@marcorubio) October 8, 2019
Blizzard shows it is willing to humiliate itself to please the Chinese Communist Party. No American company should censor calls for freedom to make a quick buck. https://t.co/rJBeXUiwYS
— Ron Wyden (@RonWyden) October 8, 2019
Other gaming companies have taken advantage of the PR misstep, with many getting the opportunity to say they wouldn’t make same mistake. Epic Games issued a statement on the matter.
“Epic supports everyone’s right to express their views on politics and human rights,” the company told The Verge. “We wouldn’t ban or punish a Fortnite player or content creator for speaking on these topics.”
#BoycottBlizzard is trending on Twitter as another incident occurred last night in the Collegiate Hearthstone Championship. American university held up a sign that said Free Hong Kong, boycott Blizzard” during the broadcast, causing them to be quickly cut away.
in tonight’s Collegiate Hearthstone championship, American University held up a “Free Hong Kong, boycott Blizzard” during the broadcast, which was quickly cut away by Blizzard pic.twitter.com/Y9eXtLfuGw
— Rod Breslau (@Slasher) October 9, 2019
Even Blizzard employees have taken issue with their companies stance as they made their own statements by covering the “Every Voice Matters” and Think Globally” at their workplace.
Not everyone at Blizzard agrees with what happened.
Both the “Think Globally” and “Every Voice Matters” values have been covered up by incensed employees this morning. pic.twitter.com/I7nAYUes6Q
— Kevin Hovdestad (@lackofrealism) October 8, 2019
Brian Kibler, a Hearthstone streamer who has also become a regular caster and event host, issued a statement on the ruling.
“That kind of appeasement is simply not something I can in good conscience be associated with,” Kibler said. “When I learned about the ruling, I reached out to Blizzard and informed them that I no longer feel comfortable casting the Grandmasters finals at BlizzCon. I will not be a smiling face on camera that tacitly endorses this decision. Unless something changes, I will have no involvement in Grandmasters moving forward.”
Blizzard has paid heavily so far for their decision to punish a player’s right to free speech but as of now, show no sign of changing their position on blitzchung or the matter. Blizzard won’t be able to avoid the topic for long, as they will assuredly have some important questions to answers during Blizzcon on Nov. 1