Blizzard Entertainment Bans Players for Supporting Hong Kong Protests

(Polygon, 2019)

The reason for Blitzchung’s ban is that players cannot bring Blizzard into a public dispute or do anything to damage Blizzards’ image. Blizzard states that: “While we stand by one’s right to express individual thoughts and opinions, players and other participants that elect to participate in our esports competitions must abide by the official competition rules.” One of the largest reasons that Blizzard banned the player was that the Chinese company Tencent owns a 5% stake in the company. Since Tencent supports China, Blizzard did not want to lose their stake and banned the player. Blizzard followed up with changing his bank from one year to six months and will reward Blitzchung his prize money of $10,000. Blitzchung states in response that: “Today I lost Hearthstone, it’s only a matter of four years,” he said, referring to his years playing the game. “But if Hong Kong lost, it’s a matter of a lifetime.” 

(Dot Esports, 2019)

On October 16, 2019, Blizzard banned three more college teams for supporting Hong Kong. The three players held up a sign at a competition that read “Free Hong Kong, Boycott Blizz.” The reason for their ban is that they violated a rule which states: “ players must refrain from performing any gesture that insults a group of people or could incite others to act in a way that is “abusive, insulting, mocking, or disruptive.” Both of these bans have led to Blizzard issuing a statement that the bans were not influenced by their relationships in China. Also, the views expressed by Blitzchung were not a factor in the decision to ban the players.

(Blizzard News, 2019)

Players who play games developed by Blizzard are staging boycotts and strikes against the developer. Also, employees of the video game company are staging walkouts at the headquarters in Irvine, California. About a dozen to 30 employees gathered at an Orc Warrior statue in the courtyard at the headquarters to protest against the company. It lasted from about 10 a.m. to late afternoon and was visible from the executive offices. Blizzard has not released a statement about the walkout.

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