Why it matters: Big tech and game companies often call each other out over their questionable behavior, as shown by Epic Games and Blizzard. After the latter banned a professional Hearthstone player who announced his support for the Hong Kong protesters, the Fortnite developer said it would never punish players or content creators for expressing political opinions
In a post-game interview given by Ng “Blitzchung” Wai Chung on Sunday, the Hearthstone player said, “Liberate Hong Kong. Revolution of our age!” He was wearing eye goggles and a gas mask at the time, which are often used by the Hong Kong protesters.
As a result of that statement, Blizzard has banned Blitzchung for a year, and he won’t be receiving any of the prize money from competing in last weekend’s Grandmasters tournament hosted in Taipei—thought to be around $10,000.
Chung, who is from Hong Kong, told AFP he didn’t regret his actions, and that the protests in his home city over the last four months had often distracted him while competing.
While Blizzard was quick to ban Chung, Epic Games said it wouldn’t have done the same thing to any Fortnite players or creators. “Epic supports everyone’s right to express their views on politics and human rights. We wouldn’t ban or punish a Fortnite player or content creator for speaking on these topics,” a spokesperson told The Verge.
While Blizzard claims it stands “by one’s right to express individual thoughts and opinions,” the company says Chung violated competition rules that prohibit “Engaging in any act that, in Blizzard’s sole discretion, brings you into public disrepute, offends a portion or group of the public, or otherwise damages Blizzard image…”
The reasoning hasn’t appeased fans angry at Blizzard’s decision. The company’s r/Blizzard subreddit was hit with so many messages supporting Chung that it went down for a few hours yesterday.
“I had been supporting the Blizzard Entertainment for nearly 20 years. I bought most of its games. I’m uninstalling all its games. I will not support Blizzard any more,” wrote one gamer.
Even Sen. Ron Wyden spoke out against Blizzard’s decision.
Blizzard shows it is willing to humiliate itself to please the Chinese Communist Party. No American company should censor calls for freedom to make a quick buck. https://t.co/rJBeXUiwYS— Ron Wyden (@RonWyden) 8 October 2019