Mentioned in this article
- Blizzard Entertainment continues to receive criticism after suspending pro Hearthstone player Chung “Blitzchung” Ng Wai and taking away his season earnings for comments made in favor of Hong Kong’s liberation from China.
- Politicians, other game developers, and a popular Hearthstone commentator have rebuked Blizzard’s decision.
- A Blizzard spokesperson said the company is “assessing the situation.”
Blizzard Entertainment’s decision to suspend a professional Hearthstone player for pro-Hong Kong liberation comments made on a broadcast has reverberated throughout the esports industry this week, generating blowback from politicians, game studios, and more.
On Tuesday, the publisher announced that it had suspended Chung “Blitzchung” Ng Wai for a year after his comments during a Hearthstone Asia Pacific Grand Masters stream. He will also receive no prize money for the current season, and additionally, the two commentators seen on the broadcast were also fired.
United States Senators Ron Wyden of Oregon and Marco Rubio of Flordia both tweeted about the move, with Wyden writing, “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.” The Daily Beast reports that a group of Activision Blizzard employees walked out on Tuesday in protest of Blizzard’s decision.
Immutable, makers of online card-battling game Gods Unchained, tweeted that it would repay Chung his lost Hearthstone winnings and invited him to compete in its $500K USD world championship. In a tweet, the company said Blizzard “care[s] about money more than freedom,” and that “no player should be punished for his beliefs.” The company has since experienced cyberattacks, according to a report from Yahoo.
Meanwhile, Fortnite developer Epic Games said in a statement to The Verge, “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.” Asked whether Chinese company Tencent’s 40% ownership stake in Epic Games would sway the company’s decisions, CEO Tim Sweeney tweeted that such punishment would “never happen on my watch as the founder, CEO, and controlling shareholder.”
Hearthstone caster Brian Kibler announced that he will not commentate the Grandmasters finals at BlizzCon or future Grandmasters events in protest of the company’s move. “I will not be a smiling face on camera that tacitly endorses this decision,” he wrote in a blog post. Meanwhile, Dallas Fuel assistant coach Justin “Jayne” Conroy criticized Blizzard’s decision on Twitter, but according to the Dallas Morning News, he deleted the tweet after being directed to—although he did not specify who told him to do so.
A Blizzard spokesperson told Engadget that the company is “assessing the situation” following the fallout from its Tuesday ruling.
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