Blizzard Entertainment Receives Backlash Over Banning of Hong Kong Player

Earlier this week, video game developer Blizzard Entertainment banned a competitive Hearthstone player after he proclaimed support for the Hong Kong protests. During an interview after a match sponsored by the video game development giant in Taipei, a victorious player out of Hong Kong, Blitzchung, (real name Ng Wai Chung) donned a mask and helmet similar to those worn by the Hong Kong protestors. He then yelled the popular slogan of the protestors, “Liberate Hong Kong, revolution of our age!” The broadcasters interviewing him can be seen hiding their faces below their desk in a combination of panic and embarrassment momentarily before the video feed cuts to a different screen.

via Mashable

It was later announced on Twitter by Blitzchung that Blizzard had revoked his $10,000 prize pool as well as enacting a 12 month ban from all Blizzard-sponsored esports. Blizzard justified this in a public statement, citing the competition rules that prohibit actions that “brings [Blizzard] into public disrepute, offends a portion or group of the public, or otherwise damages [Blizzard’s] image.”

Many took this action against Blitzchung as an appeasement to Blizzard’s Chinese investors, scared to lose out on the funds they provide. In response, many gamers cancelled their various Blizzard subscriptions and accounts, some even refunding their Blizzcon 2019 tickets. The controversy has been frequently been compared to the controversy with the NBA, in which the Houston Rockets’ team manager posted tweets coming out in support of the protestors, only to have the tweets removed.

Daryl Moery (center) (via South China Morning Post)

Blizzard later made some concessions, giving Blitzchung his prize money and reducing his ban to 6 months. However, this did not appease many in the gaming community, and the question still remains as to whether American business can be trusted to uphold American values.