Followup: Blizzard finally bans Hearthstone team for displaying Hong Kong protest sign

Cal Jeffrey

TS Evangelist
Staff member

As reported last week, three collegiate Hearthstone players, who held up a sign in support of Hong Kong protesters, were not punished by Blizzard. The protest happened only days after professional player Ng "Blitzchung" Wai Chung received a one-year ban for a similar incident.

It seems that Blizzard has finally decided to take punitive measures by suspending the entire American University team from competitive play. The ban's justification was that the players violated the company's rules on "sportsmanship."

Section 7.1.B of Blizzard's collegiate guidelines states, "Participants may not take any action or perform any gesture directed at another Participant, Tespa Admin, or any other party or incite others to do the same which is abusive, insulting, mocking, or disruptive."

According to Blizzard, the players violated this section of the rules and have been banned for six months. This penalty is the same that the company imposed on Blitzchung, although his original punishment was a one-year suspension.

Even though Blizzard took a week to drop the ban-hammer, the players were pleased with its decision. Their whole purpose was to show that they supported Chung's stance, and the team was surprised that they did not receive a similar punishment.

"Happy to announce the AU Hearthstone team received a six-month ban from competition," player Casey Chambers said in a tweet on Wednesday. "While delayed, I appreciate all players being treated equally and no one being above the rules."

The team had initially stated that they would be quitting Hearthstone tournament play due to Blizzard's apparent hypocrisy over similar incidents. It did not say if it was rescinding its decision to refrain from competitive matches.

Blizzard's actions against the Hong Kong player Chung have stirred a lot of controversy among employees and the gaming community. Staffers staged a walkout last week after the company handed down its decision against Blitzchung. Rival game company Epic also took a stab at the punishment.

Blizzard has defended itself on the issue, saying that Chungs political views had nothing to do with his suspension.

"[The] specific views expressed by blitzchung were NOT a factor in the decision we made," said Blizzard Entertainment president J. Allen Brack in a statement. "I want to be clear: our relationships in China had no influence on our decision."

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Misagt

TS Evangelist
Well I just deleted my 18 year old blizzard account thousands of dollars in that account pretty much every blizzard game released. I can't stand a company that stands with a totalitarian state that murders its own citizens. I stand with the Hong Kong people they deserve freedom!
 

m4a4

TS Evangelist
Well I just deleted my 18 year old blizzard account thousands of dollars in that account pretty much every blizzard game released. I can't stand a company that stands with a totalitarian state that murders its own citizens. I stand with the Hong Kong people they deserve freedom!
Blizzard took a stance that using their platform for controversial topics is not allowed, and they're allowed to do that (to keep it focused on the event).
What do you think would happen if they let this slide? How many more people would then use the Blizzard platform to push other controversial opinions? And then where would they draw the line (without looking biased or worse)? It's not a can of worms that any company should have to open (but hey, Blizzard is big and mean. So it's okay, right?).

Simple logic states that they quickly take steps to punish the player(s) who break the rules. Rules that the player's understood and agreed to.
 
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loki1944

TS Maniac
Well I just deleted my 18 year old blizzard account thousands of dollars in that account pretty much every blizzard game released. I can't stand a company that stands with a totalitarian state that murders its own citizens. I stand with the Hong Kong people they deserve freedom!
Yup, their spinelessness is only matched by their greed.
 
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yRaz

Nigerian Prince
Blizzard took a stance that using their platform for controversial topics is not allowed, and they're allowed to do that (to keep it focus on the event).
What do you think would happen if they let this slide? How many more people would then use the Blizzard platform to push other controversial opinions? And then where would they draw the line (without looking biased or worse)? It's not a can of worms that any company should have to open (but hey, Blizzard is big and mean. So it's okay, right?).

Simple logic states that they quickly take steps to punish the player(s) who break the rules. Rules that the player's understood and agreed to.
They took quick steps to protect their market share in China which is twice as large as it is in the US. Then after a few days of outrage they released a statement. The day they made the first ban they posted a tweet saying that it stands with China. They literally said that this wasn't about using their platform for spreading political views. Then the further bans where put in place to support the idea that it was about misusing their platform.

But those players who they banned had already said they are quiting hearthstone so the bans were pointless. And let's not forget about the commentators they fired over the whole thing who barely had anything to do with it.

Only a fool would believe blizzard.
 

Panda218

TS Evangelist
They took quick steps to protect their market share in China which is twice as large as it is in the US. Then after a few days of outrage they released a statement. The day they made the first ban they posted a tweet saying that it stands with China. They literally said that this wasn't about using their platform for spreading political views. Then the further bans where put in place to support the idea that it was about misusing their platform.

But those players who they banned had already said they are quiting hearthstone so the bans were pointless. And let's not forget about the commentators they fired over the whole thing who barely had anything to do with it.

Only a fool would believe blizzard.
Meanwhile I know people who are saying those commentators were "punk kids" and deserved the punishment they got. I F@#$ing hate what capitalism does to people...
 
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ZackL04

TS Guru
They took quick steps to protect their market share in China which is twice as large as it is in the US. Then after a few days of outrage they released a statement. The day they made the first ban they posted a tweet saying that it stands with China. They literally said that this wasn't about using their platform for spreading political views. Then the further bans where put in place to support the idea that it was about misusing their platform.

But those players who they banned had already said they are quiting hearthstone so the bans were pointless. And let's not forget about the commentators they fired over the whole thing who barely had anything to do with it.

Only a fool would believe blizzard.
This is fact

Same reason NBA is back tracking on Houston GM opinion on democracy in China.

They are only worried about the markey share that is China and the money they stand to lose if they lose China.

 

m4a4

TS Evangelist
They took quick steps to protect their market share in China which is twice as large as it is in the US. Then after a few days of outrage they released a statement. The day they made the first ban they posted a tweet saying that it stands with China. They literally said that this wasn't about using their platform for spreading political views. Then the further bans where put in place to support the idea that it was about misusing their platform.

But those players who they banned had already said they are quiting hearthstone so the bans were pointless. And let's not forget about the commentators they fired over the whole thing who barely had anything to do with it.

Only a fool would believe blizzard.
They took quick steps to punish a professional Grandmasters player from doing something they agreed not to do. I can agree the original ban seemed a little harsh, but they did at least revisit it.
If the guy said these things on his own personal platform outside of the Blizzard event and got banned, I'd understand the hate. But otherwise, it just looks manufactured/misguided because "big company bad" sentiment.

Also, it seems like you are misinformed about the commentators. They got bans because 1) They are there to keep things on topic instead of hiding (you know, professional). And 2) they encouraged the controversy (to also say the phrase in Mandarin).

How about next time you look into it yourself instead of believing whatever shallow version of events that fit your narrative.

Ps. I was leaning this way day one because I understand that there are inappropriate times to share opinions. But only a fool would see more in a situation than is actually there.
 

yRaz

Nigerian Prince
They took quick steps to punish a professional Grandmasters player from doing something they agreed not to do. I can agree the original ban seemed a little harsh, but they did at least revisit it.
If the guy said these things on his own personal platform outside of the Blizzard event and got banned, I'd understand the hate. But otherwise, it just looks manufactured/misguided because "big company bad" sentiment.

Also, it seems like you are misinformed about the commentators. They got bans because 1) They are there to keep things on topic instead of hiding (you know, professional). And 2) they encouraged the controversy (to also say the phrase in Mandarin).

How about next time you look into it yourself instead of believing whatever shallow version of events that fit your narrative.

Ps. I was leaning this way day one because I understand that there are inappropriate times to share opinions. But only a fool would see more in a situation than is actually there.
You know that the UN is getting involved in this because they say blizzards EULA violates human rights. I believe it is you who is misinformed, I've been following this story since day one. And you're also going out on a limb trying to defend your already incorrect opinion. They're being sued because their EULA is so vague that it really doesn't mean anything. But blizzard publicly stated ON THEIR TWITTER THAT THEY STAND WITH THE CHINESE GOVERNMENT. That is in no way open to interpretation

*EDIT* Blizzard did not post it on Twitter, they posted it on China's privately owned version of Twitter, weibo.
 
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Evernessince

地獄らしい人間動物園
Blizzard took a stance that using their platform for controversial topics is not allowed, and they're allowed to do that (to keep it focused on the event).
What do you think would happen if they let this slide? How many more people would then use the Blizzard platform to push other controversial opinions? And then where would they draw the line (without looking biased or worse)? It's not a can of worms that any company should have to open (but hey, Blizzard is big and mean. So it's okay, right?).

Simple logic states that they quickly take steps to punish the player(s) who break the rules. Rules that the player's understood and agreed to.
I didn't realizing fighting for basic freedoms was considered controversial. If Blizzard has a problem with basic civil liberties they deserve all the bad PR they are getting.

If you read the rules players agree to, they don't delineate specifically what players can and cannot do. It's extremely vague so it stands to reason that you can get banned on Blizzard's whim. The fact that these players are getting the shaft for "sportsmenship" tells me this is less a rulebook and more a "what ever blizzard says goes" thing.
 

m4a4

TS Evangelist
You know that the UN is getting involved in this because they say blizzards EULA violates human rights. I believe it is you who is misinformed, I've been following this story since day one. And you're also going out on a limb trying to defend your already incorrect opinion. They're being sued because their EULA is so vague that it really doesn't mean anything. But blizzard publicly stated ON THEIR TWITTER THAT THEY STAND WITH THE CHINESE GOVERNMENT. That is in no way open to interpretation
I see nothing about what you're claiming. Source it.

Incorrect opinion? How so? Blizzard has every right to prevent speech it doesn't desire on it's own platform during their own event. How would you react if they went to weddings/funerals/other events and yelled "free Hongkong!"? You would say not the place. Don't BS me with a double standard.

And source that twitter too. If it was a Chinese official that made the tweet (it was), then that's another issue entirely.
 

m4a4

TS Evangelist
I didn't realizing fighting for basic freedoms was considered controversial. If Blizzard has a problem with basic civil liberties they deserve all the bad PR they are getting.

If you read the rules players agree to, they don't delineate specifically what players can and cannot do. It's extremely vague so it stands to reason that you can get banned on Blizzard's whim. The fact that these players are getting the shaft for "sportsmenship" tells me this is less a rulebook and more a "what ever blizzard says goes" thing.
The inconvenient truth is that it was an inappropriate place to share that (without first confirming with officials that he should). It has nothing to do with their stance on the topic that was shared.
There's a basic understanding that you keep the topics about the game. Sure it's worded a little vaguely, but why haven't we heard these players, say, endorse a political candidate or something during a live game or in an interview yet?
(Hint: It's because they know and agreed to keep things professional)
 
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yRaz

Nigerian Prince
I see nothing about what you're claiming. Source it.

Incorrect opinion? How so? Blizzard has every right to prevent speech it doesn't desire on it's own platform during their own event. How would you react if they went to weddings/funerals/other events and yelled "free Hongkong!"? You would say not the place. Don't BS me with a double standard.

And source that twitter too. If it was a Chinese official that made the tweet (it was), then that's another issue entirely.
In a statement, Blizzard said that while they “stand by one’s right to express individual thoughts and opinions,” players must abide by official competition rules. It went further in its Chinese statement, posted on Chinese social media platform Weibo, emphasizing that the company would, “as always, resolutely safeguard the country’s dignity.”
 
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m4a4

TS Evangelist
So? I asked for the tweet source, not an article that references it. And also implied that the tweet was an issue on it's own (the person who might've made that might not have had a choice if they are residing in China). Y'know, cause they don't have free speech.
Try again.
 
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Darth Shiv

TS Evangelist
Well I just deleted my 18 year old blizzard account thousands of dollars in that account pretty much every blizzard game released. I can't stand a company that stands with a totalitarian state that murders its own citizens. I stand with the Hong Kong people they deserve freedom!
You realise a HUGE amount of the goods in the US economy are made in China right? Are you going to boycott purchasing everything produced in China as well?
 

Danny101

TS Guru
You realise a HUGE amount of the goods in the US economy are made in China right? Are you going to boycott purchasing everything produced in China as well?
A great indicator of the amount of corruption there is. We should have protested it from the beginning. But hey, products were cheap, who couldn't like that. The strategy that China would respond to our good graces with their own has been an abject failure. Our daily purchases built China into a strong competitor.
 

amghwk

TS Guru
They took quick steps to protect their market share in China which is twice as large as it is in the US. Then after a few days of outrage they released a statement. The day they made the first ban they posted a tweet saying that it stands with China. They literally said that this wasn't about using their platform for spreading political views. Then the further bans where put in place to support the idea that it was about misusing their platform.

But those players who they banned had already said they are quiting hearthstone so the bans were pointless. And let's not forget about the commentators they fired over the whole thing who barely had anything to do with it.

Only a fool would believe blizzard.
This. Exactly.
 
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amghwk

TS Guru
You realise a HUGE amount of the goods in the US economy are made in China right? Are you going to boycott purchasing everything produced in China as well?
It's time.

Can't boycott everything yet. Maybe try substituting one or two for locally made products.

Sadly everyone, including the American companies themselves outsource to China for making cheap and selling at normal and high price. The American pride Apple or HP, for example.

Anyway, Change begins from taking a single small step forward and keep moving. If we don't make a change, we will be engulfed/consumed/obliterated.
 

yRaz

Nigerian Prince
So? I asked for the tweet source, not an article that references it. And also implied that the tweet was an issue on it's own (the person who might've made that might not have had a choice if they are residing in China). Y'know, cause they don't have free speech.
Try again.
I remembered it incorrectly as Twitter, but weibo is a type of Chinese Twitter. That mistake on my part does not change the content of the "tweet." We use Twitter in the same way we use "Xerox" and "Kleenex"

Now would you like to argue the substance of blizzards post or not?
 

Capaill

TS Evangelist
Some sources:
Official Blizzard Weibo apology to China (I don't know Chinese so I cannot search Weibo itself):
https://www.reddit.com/r/HongKong/comments/dfkmp1
v1.4 of the Grandmaster rules. Updated on 30 July but it looks like the pertinent clauses have been there at least a year:
https://bnetcmsus-a.akamaihd.net/cms/page_media/w4/W4NWIBHB74T31564507077190.pdf

From my reading of the incident, the main disgraces are that Blizzard banned Blitzchung immediately but took 6 days to ban the US players. And that Blizzard went out of their way to take sides with China (so I guess Every Voice Doesn't Matter).
Also, Blizzard seems to have used different clauses to ban each of them - while the clause used to ban Blitzchung seems appropriate (6.1 o), the one used for the US Grandmaster players seems poorly interpreted. But I doubt the US players will fight it as they had decided to quit anyway.
 
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m4a4

TS Evangelist
I remembered it incorrectly as Twitter, but weibo is a type of Chinese Twitter. That mistake on my part does not change the content of the "tweet." We use Twitter in the same way we use "Xerox" and "Kleenex"

Now would you like to argue the substance of blizzards post or not?
As someone else so eloquently said on reddit: "Its a chinese message on a chinese website under chinese censorship supervision supporting chinese gov and you think it really is written by anyone who has something to say at Blizzard?"

Do you really want to argue that the weibo tweet should be taken seriously? Is that really the flimsy argument against Blizzard that you want to make?
 

EClyde

TS Evangelist
I see nothing about what you're claiming. Source it.

Incorrect opinion? How so? Blizzard has every right to prevent speech it doesn't desire on it's own platform during their own event. How would you react if they went to weddings/funerals/other events and yelled "free Hongkong!"? You would say not the place. Don't BS me with a double standard.

And source that twitter too. If it was a Chinese official that made the tweet (it was), then that's another issue entirely.
sourcing is no longer a requirement