American-based video game maker Blizzard Entertainment is being criticized for appeasing Chinese censors after it banned a Hong Kong gamer who espoused support for the region’s beleaguered pro-democracy protesters.
On Tuesday, reports surfaced Blizzard had suspended the account of Hearthstone tournament gamer Blitzchung after he yelled, “Liberate Hong Kong, revolution of our age!” during a televised interview.
— Inven Global @ BlizzCon! (@InvenGlobal) October 6, 2019
According to a statement from Blizzard Entertainment, Blitzchung was removed from the Grandmasters tourney, is ineligible to receive any prize money, and is suspended from Hearthstone Esports for a year, for breaking an official competition rule.
Breaking: Effective immediately, Blizzard has removed Hong Kong Hearthstone player blitzchung from Hearthstone Grand Masters, rescinded all his prize money, and have suspended him from pro play for one year for his recent interview.
— Rod Breslau (@Slasher) October 8, 2019
“We will also immediately cease working with both casters,” the company announced, referring to the two hosts of the broadcast who ducked their heads when Blitzchung made his statement.
A pinned Twitter post from Blizzard received a large ratio of negative comments, accusing the company of bending over for Communist China.
To be clear, this year's BlizzCon is taking place at Tiananmen Square, right?
— Justin Whang 🐙 (@JustinWhang) October 8, 2019
— HKcitizen0826 (@HKcitizen0826) October 8, 2019
Stop licking China’s boots
— . (@NoahJAguirre) October 8, 2019
— Based_In_Auckland (@BasedInAuckland) October 8, 2019
— hsu keng hao (@hsukh27) October 8, 2019
Blizzard you are cancelled
— Tt (@Tt42609736) October 8, 2019
Will I get to learn about the very successful and progressive two child policy of the glorious Communist Party of China, led by the visionary Xi Jinping (who in no way resembles Winnie the Pooh)? Because I really want to hear about how Hong Kong anarchists are ruining that utopia
— Kecka (@keckmeister) October 8, 2019
Free Hong Kong, boycott @Blizzard_Ent!
— llyzs🐜 (@llyzs) October 8, 2019
I'm one of your oldest customers. I have a very long history of playing Blizzard games. Never again. You are a company of cowards.
I'm uninstalling all of your garbage today.
Choke on your money. #boycottblizzard
— Art Ockey (@aockey) October 8, 2019
— Cactus (@SaltmasterC_4) October 8, 2019
One Daily Beast reporter noted a placard on a statue outside the Blizzard headquarters ironically contains the message, “Every Voice Matters.”
Gaming company @Blizzard_Ent, which banned a prominent player this week for speaking out in support of Hong Kong demonstrators, has this statue and accompanying plaque outside its Irvine, CA, campus pic.twitter.com/LxIqBA4H2L
— Lachlan Markay (@lachlan) October 8, 2019
The kerfuffle comes as the NBA also faces backlash from China after Houston Rockets General Manager Daryl Morey made comments on Twitter supportive of the Hong Kong protesters fighting to keep China from imposing a draconian extradition policy.
NBA Commissioner Adam Silver came to Morey’s defense, saying, “I want to make it clear … that Daryl Morey is supported in terms of his ability to exercise his freedom of expression.”
However, Chinese state-run media issued a statement rejecting Silver’s support of Morey’s comments, claiming, “We strongly oppose Silver’s support of Morey on the basis of freedom of speech and we think any comments that challenge a country’s sovereignty and social stability is not within the scope of freedom of speech.”
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