Who voiced support for protestors in Hong Kong, with Ng Wai ‘Blitzchung’ Chung stating “Liberate Hong Kong, revolution of our age!” at a recent Hearthstone
esports event. In response Blizzard
suspended Blitzchung from competitive play for a year, alongside taking away his prize money, and even going so far as to remove casters who interviewed him. From there, people took notice.
Blizzard's response to the decision was vague citing a catch-all rule that states:
“Engaging in any act that, in Blizzard’s sole discretion, brings you into public disrepute, offends a portion or group of the pulic, or otherwise damages Blizzard image will result in removal from Grandmasters and reduction of the player’s prize total to $0 USD, in addition to other remedies which may be provided for under the Handbook and Blizzard’s Website Terms.”
This blog post
positions the violation of this rule as the sole reason for the action taken, but alongside recent pressure that the NBA got from the Chinese government due to similar support for Hong Kong protests many drew the same conclusion. Pressure from China for Blizzard to act swiftly and harshly. With Chinese firm Tencent having a stake in Activision Blizzard, and the gaming sector in that region being one of the fastest growing and most lucrative in the world, the decision - if not pressured - was at best harsh and unfair.
Since this happened a few days ago, there has been a vocal and global backlash against Blizzard - with many people voicing concern or withdrawing support for Blizzard games as consumers. Earlier today news broke
from anonymous sources that some employees at Blizzard staged a walkout based on the decision - following an act of defiance that saw company values "Think Globally" and "Every Voice Matters" being covered up at Blizzard's main campus.
The news has now founs its way on various non-gaming publications including The Daily Beast, The Guardian, BBC News, CBS News, and CNBC. Several fans and supporters of Blitzchung have taken to social media and reddit using Overwatch character Mei as symbol for democracy in Hong Kong.
With Overwatch coming to Nintendo Switch very soon alongside BlizzCon in a few weeks, many are wondering how and if the company and studio will respond.