Fallout from Blizzard’s banning of Blitzchung



How’s it going everybody, Adrian Simple here from thegamingobserver.com, for Thursday October 10th. As always you can head over to the website for links and transcript.

Alright here’s the deal folks. The headlines today were dominated by a single topic, and that’s the situation regarding Blizzard that I talked about yesterday. Because of that, it’s going to be the only thing I talk about today, but I also think that’s a very important conversation to have. If you didn’t catch it yesterday, essentially there was a player named BlitzChung who made a pro-Hong Kong statement on stream in a Hearthstone tournament. Blizzard then banned him from esports for a full year, and rescinded all his winnings up to that point. The general consensus is that they are trying to stay pro-China because of the financial benefits they gain from the region. What has followed since then is nothing short of a PR nightmare at all levels, and I want to talk about those levels.

At a governmental level, senators Marco Rubio and Ron Wyden have spoken out against the decision, which by the way are a Republican and Democrat, respectively. At a company level, a plaque with the words “Think globally” and “every voice matters” were covered up by the workers. There was also a small-scale walkout that occurred Tuesday afternoon. At an esports level, other competitors have been making statements of their own on stream. Additionally, a prominent and well-respected personality by the name of Brian Kibler has stepped down as the commentator for the Hearthstone Grandmasters. He said that Blitzchung should have been punished, making the analogy that if he publicly called for the impeachment of Donald Trump, he wouldn’t expect to be invited back. However, the punishment they dealt was over-the-line, “The heavy-handedness of it feels like someone insisted that Blizzard make an example of Blitzchung, not only to discourage others from similar acts in the future but also to appease those upset by the outburst itself.” At a game developer level, companies have been speaking out against it, notably Epic Games, of which Chinese conglomerate Tencent is a 40% shareholder. Someone on Twitter messaged CEO Tim Sweeny saying ‘you really wouldn’t punish someone?” and he responded “Absolutely. That will never happen on my watch as the founder, CEO, and controlling shareholder.”

Perhaps dwarfing all of that though, is what’s happening on the community level. Social media is exploding with this everywhere. Subreddits filled to the brim with Blizzard hate, Twitter constantly talking about it. There has now been a movement to make an Overwatch character, Mei, into the symbol for the Hong Kong protests as retribution, and perhaps in an attempt to get Overwatch banned in China. Ever since, there have been a variety of artwork, memes, and even animations with Mei at the forefront.

Folks I cannot understate enough the importance of this issue. Blizzard has taken a very clear stance against what Hong Kong is protesting for, which is ultimately freedom. I can’t pretend to understand the full situation, but I understand enough to know that we’re talking about major censorship and propoganda issues. Blizzcon happens in less than a month, and apparently it was planned to be the comeback from the whole Diablo Immortal debacle from last year. Well, this is going to be an interesting change of pace. I imagine that Blizzard isn’t going to be able to ignore this one, so we’ll see how it plays out. But if left unaddressed, Blizzcon will be an event to have your eye on.

That’s going to be all for today, thank you for letting me speak about that. If you haven’t already, feel free to check out my review on Yooka-Laylee and the Impossible Lair on Youtube or the podcast host of your choice. I will be back tomorrow with the news, and until then…Happy Gaming everyone.