Blizzard Entertainment came under intense scrutiny this past week when it decided to suspend pro Hearthstone player Chung Ng Wai (Blitzchung) for saying “Liberate Hong Kong. Revolution of our age” during the Asia-Pacific Grandmasters. Many, including games industry professionals and politicians, saw the move as Blizzard cowering to China – a charge that the company denies.
Kotaku has reported that multiple groups are now organizing protests outside BlizzCon 2019‘s venue in wake of the controversy. The ProtestBlizzCon subreddit alone has gained a lot of traction, with groups on other sites like Discord also gaining momentum. For its part, Blizzard has penned a lengthy letter to its community, explaining its reasons and partially backing down by returning Wai’s prize money and reducing his suspension.
“The specific views expressed by Blitzchung were NOT a factor in the decision we made,” wrote Blizzard President J. Allen Brack. “I want to be clear: our relationships in China had no influence on our decision. We have these rules to keep the focus on the game and on the tournament to the benefit of a global audience, and that was the only consideration in the actions we took. If this had been the opposing viewpoint delivered in the same divisive and deliberate way, we would have felt and acted the same.”
Brack went on to admit that Blizzard reacted “too quickly” but justified the punishment.
“There is a consequence for taking the conversation away from the purpose of the event and disrupting or derailing the broadcast,” he added.
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