The controversy over Blizzard Entertainment punishing a popular player for voicing support for Hong Kong protesters has shook the entire industry.
During his presence on a post-game webcast, Ng Wai Chung, a Hong Kong-based Hearthstone player known as “Blitzchung,” advocated for the pro-democracy rallies that have raged in his city for the past five months. Blizzard, the creator, and publisher of Hearthstone retaliated promptly, imposing broad penalties on all parties involved. It’s the latest example of an American corporation torn between Chinese business interests and freedom of expression in the rest of the globe.
Players, industry leaders, and politicians all expressed outrage over Blizzard’s response. It also came at a time when the protests were gaining international notice, as well as concern over China’s response. Blizzard eventually decreased the penalty, but the unfavorable fan attitude isn’t going away anytime soon—especially when the video gaming behemoth punished another group for supporting Hong Kong.
Blitzchung, Who Are You?
Blitzchung is an esports player from Hong Kong who specializes in the online collectible card game Hearthstone. He has competed in a number of tournaments and is now placed seventh in the Hearthstone Grandmasters for the Asia-Pacific region in the second season of 2019.
He has earned more than $20,000 in various games and competitions related to the game, according to Liquipedia.
Blizzard Reprimanded Blitzchung for No Apparent Reason
After the Grandmasters’ second season of 2019 ended on October 6, Blitzchung appeared on the official Taiwan Hearthstone stream. Blitzchung wore a ski mask and a gas mask during an interview with two streamers, identical to the ones utilized by Hong Kong demonstrators to shield themselves from tear gas and recently prohibited by the government.
The streamers bowed down to shield their faces, presumably aware of Blitzchung’s objectives. “Liberate Hong Kong,” said Blitzchung in Chinese, according to reports. “Our era’s revolution.”
“We shall also immediately discontinue cooperating with both casters,” Blizzard added in the verdict, indicating that it will break relations with the two streams who attempted to hide from Blitzchung’s activities.
Blizzard Entertainment is a large video game developer and publisher known for titles such as World of Warcraft, Overwatch, Starcraft, and Diablo
Aside from the alleged rule infringement, Blizzard’s primary motivation for punishing all parties involved is China’s massive and rapidly growing market.
Analyst reports suggest that esports might be worth $3 billion in China, as the government attempts to recognize the sport as a career.
What Are the Opinions of Other Gamers
Hearthstone players, as well as other gamers, reacted angrily to Blizzard’s decision in the English-speaking world. They denounced the decision and joyfully joined Hong Kong demonstrators.
“After four years of being a moderator for the sub and an advocate for this game, I am leaving the moderation team as this is no longer a company I want to support or follow,” a moderator from the Hearthstone subreddit (which has over 1 million subscribers) said shortly after Blizzard’s announcement.
Brian Kibler, a well-known esports commentator, penned a lengthy Medium essay in which he attempted to comprehend Blizzard’s point of view but finally informed the business that he would no longer be working on the Grandmasters finals of Hearthstone.
“The harshness of it feels like someone urged that Blizzard make an example of Blitzchung, not just to deter others from committing similar crimes in the future, but also to pacify those who were offended by the outburst itself,” Kibler said. “That type of appeasement is simply not something I can be connected with in good faith.”
Employees at Blizzard Have Reacted in A Number of Ways
According to The Daily Beast, a group of Blizzard employees walked out in protest the day after the company’s initial punishment.
A Blizzard employee told the Daily Beast, “I’m disappointed.” “We want individuals from all around the world to play our games, but no such action can be carried out in a politically neutral manner.”
According to the Daily Beast, up to 30 individuals gathered at the company’s famous orc monument in Irvine, California. Later that day, someone claiming to be a Blizzard employee posted an image of the purported demonstration on Reddit, with employees clutching umbrellas, which have become a symbol of Hong Kong protests.
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