- Blizzard may land in a legal soup with US Senators speaking out against the company that outright banned one of its most loyal players
Activision Blizzard has been recently attracting a lot of controversies. The backlash of such controversies is mainly coming from the player base and massive media outlets. After the finale of the topmost Hearthstone event “Grandmasters,” which was between Hong Kong player Ng Wai “blitzchung” Chung and south Korean player Jang “DawN” Hyun on October 6th a disputatious event occurred.
The Hong Kong-based pro player, after winning the finale, was interviewed on the live stream. During the live stream, Chung said something in the wake of the brutal Hong Kong protests that have continued for quite a long time now. Chung made a statement on the stream which in English translates to “Liberate Hong Kong, the revolution of our age!” while wearing attire similar to what protesters have been wearing in Hong Kong, this kickstarted a very tense situation for the player, the casters and Blizzard themselves. Following the particular event, Blizzard took some major decisions which received some major criticism from political figures in U.S.A, gamming community, and new channels. Blizzard, while putting a ban on Chung from the professional hearthstone scene for 12 months starting from October 5th, 2019, also decided to not give the award money to Chung which was owed to him after won the finals.
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Furthermore, both casters who were nothing but mere bystanders also faced cessation of their contracts with the company. The casters, while the live stream knew of the consequences and to show dissent with what was happening, lowered their heads so that their faces could not be seen. Even with the precautions they took, Blizzard harshly severed their contract.
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. https://t.co/rJBeXUiwYS
— Ron Wyden (@RonWyden) October 8, 2019
Over the last weekend, this got a lot of traction. People are consistently criticizing and pointing fingers at the company for choosing greed over humanity, expression, and freedom. The r/Blizzard subreddit was set to private to avoid the bombardment of posts against the company, now it has been again set to public, and people can’t stop dissing Blizzard. This is because the Hong Kong protests have been to get out of the oppression of the Chinese Government. It all started to get the Fugitive Offenders Amendment Bill thrown out as it would be potentially threatening the level of autonomy Hong Kong enjoys. After a long and brutal struggle, the government finally accepted to withdraw the bill, but the protest still continues to secure future struggles related to the same, to get justice for the police brutality and inhumanity which was witnessed by the masses during the protest and they want the Hong Kong chief to resign.
Now, after all the citizens of Hong Kong have gone through to protest, it is really upsetting to see multi-million industries like Activision Blizzard to side with inhumanity and oppression. It is mainly due to the fear of facing a block from the Chinese gaming populous, which will further result in them losing out on a lot of money. But, now that they have sided with the injustice, a lot of players have been disgusted by this step and have vowed to not support the company with any more purchases, and many have outrightly stated that they will stop playing the games of Blizzard to display support for Chung.
Recognize what’s happening here. 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. Implications of this will be felt long after everyone in U.S. politics today is gone. https://t.co/Cx3tkWc7r6
— Marco Rubio (@marcorubio) October 8, 2019
Blizzard in their statement has sounded very hypocritical because, on one side, they are saying they support one’s rights to express their own opinion, but players who participate in their official tournaments must abide by the rules. They further claimed that Chung by making such a statement had violated the Competition Rules, specifically section 6.1 (o) which reads:
“Engaging in any act that, in Blizzard’s sole discretion, brings you into public disrepute, offends a portion or group of the public, or otherwise damages Blizzard image will result in removal from Grandmasters and reduction of the player’s prize total to $0 USD, in addition to other remedies which may be provided for under the Handbook and BLizzard’s Website Terms.”
While Blizzard uses this section to justify their actions, the decision still remains questionable because, from the above section, it is very clear that the sole discretion lies with Blizzard to eventually differentiate between what’s good and bad and then derive to a conclusion.
In his statement, Chung said he was fully aware that Blizzard would take these steps. He said he thinks it’s unfair but respects their decision, and at the same time, he doesn’t regret what he said at all. Chung made a statement, “As you know, there are serious protests in my country now. My call on stream was just another form of participation of the protest that I wish to grab more attentio It could cause me a lot of trouble, even my personal safety in real life. But I think it’s my duty to say something about the issue.”
This was all about the heated issue that has been ensuing for the past few days. Flag bearers of morality and justice are outrightly shaming the company for their actions while Blizzard is firm on their decision.