UPDATE: During the American Collegiate Hearthstone Championship, one of the teams held up a message of support for Hong Kong, and the boycott of Blizzard. Blizzard reportedly cut away and cancelled further interviews for the day.
Additionally, there are reports that Blizzard has disabled its account deactivation procedures to stop people deleting their accounts – a trend that rose in correlation with these events.
The original article continues below.
Last Sunday, Blizzard took the unexpected step of banning Hearthstone player and tournament winner, Ng “Blitzchung” Wai Chung, after his victory interview.
After winning his tournament, Blitzchung expressed support for the pro-democracy protesters in his native Hong Kong during the follow-up interview. Hours later, Blitzchung was banned from Hearthstone for a year, his winnings withheld, and the two interviewers fired.
The internet did not take kindly to Blizzard’s reactions: the term #BlizzardBoycott is trending on Twitter, and various Blizzard Reddits have become flooded with support for Hong Kong and decrying Blizzard’s actions. Reportedly, the moderators of the main Blizzard Reddit were overcome by the support, and had to temporarily close it in order to stem the tide.
The situation has also left the company itself divided, with some Blizzard employees dressing in Hong Kong protester gear in a sign of solidarity, and others covering up Blizzard HQ’s plaques which talk of unity and every voice mattering.
The situation has also lead several US Senators to comment. Oregon Senator, Ron Wyden, tweeted: ” 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.” Florida Senator, Marco Rubio, echoed similar sentiments: “People who don’t live in #China must either self censor or face dismissal & suspensions. China using access to market as leverage to crush free speech globally.” He further went on to say he would be investigating Chinese company TikTok’s acquisition of Musica.ly, under concerns of Chinese interests coercing US companies to abide by China’s censorship policies.
Amidst it all, Hearthstone competitor Gods Unchained made a public statement offering to cover Blitzchung’s winnings, and invited him to attend their finals in Sydney, all-expenses paid. Reportedly, Gods Unchained faced a DDoS attack soon after the sentiment was expressed.
Respawning will continue to cover the situation as it happens.