On Tuesday, a cohort of Activision Blizzard employees staged a walkout to take a stand against the company’s ‘pretty appalling but not surprising’ actions regarding the Hearthstone pro who voiced support for Hong Kong protesters in a livestreamed interview (via The Daily Beast).
Chung ‘Blitzchung’ Ng Wai appeared on the official Twitch channel of Blizzard Taiwan for an interview about his Grandmasters win. Blitzschung closed the interview by yelling in Chinese, ‘Liberate Hong Kong, revolution of our age!’. Chinese media company Tencent owns a five per cent stake in Activision Blizzard, and Hong Konger’s pro-democracy protests are reacting to the extradition bill that would give China the power to bring criminal suspects in from the administrative region. In return, Blizzard deleted his interview, pulled Blitzschung’s $10,000 prize money, and banned him from Grandmasters and Hearthstone for 12 months. The two casters involved in the interview were also fired.
‘The action Blizzard took against the player was pretty appalling but not surprising,’ one anonymous employee said. ‘Blizzard makes a lot of money in China, but now the company is in this awkward position where we can’t abide by our values.’ Protesting employees are also initiating a petition to submit to executives, in which they express their disappointment at how the situation has been handled by its company leaders.
‘I’m disappointed,’ another anonymous employee said. ‘We want people all over the world to play our games, but no action like this can be made with political neutrality.’ Allegedly, Blizzard has been bowing to calls for censorship within its games. Last quarter, 12 per cent of its earnings were sourced from the Asia-Pacific region. ‘Doing business in China, it’s been easier to ignore the authoritarianism of the government because they were asking us to do things like remove a skeleton [from a game],’ one employee corroborated.
‘The stakes are so much higher now. What was previously an obvious decision is much less obvious now,’ they added.