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Blizzard bans Blitzchung over Hong Kong protests

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The Livestream that damaged Blizzard's goodwill.

On October 6, 2019, Hearthstone player Ng Wai Chung (Blitzchung) was banned following his statement of favoring the liberation of Hong Kong from the Chinese government. Due to the rebellion going on in Hong Kong, many Blizzard fans saw this action as the company supporting the Communist Party of China, a much-hated government power that rules over mainland China and proclaims control in Taiwan and its islands.

Background

During an interview following a streaming event, Blitzchung, wearing a gas-mask, uttered, "Liberate Hong Kong, the revolution of our times" in Mandarin. The stream was cut off. The next day, Blizzard announced that he was banned with heavy unfair punishments like having to forfeit all of the money he had won so far (approx. US$4,000) over a harmless non-American political statement. Along the two streamers who appeared in the event had their Grandmaster statuses stripped by Blizzard. Many suspected Blizzard did what it did because NetEase, their Chinese partner, didn't want them and their games to be banned in China, which represents a major portion of their player base and therefore, profits.

Aftermath

While consumer relations have been fairly shaky in recent times before the controversy, many were still willing to play any game developed by Blizzard. Blizzard's decision to ban Blitzchung got so much backlash, that current Blizzard employees planned a walkout while even a few United States of America Senators from both two major parties, Marco Rubio and Ron Wyden, has criticized Blizzard's choices. Many not only boycotted the company but even went as far as deleting accounts and cancelling World of Warcraft subscriptions. Along even a few employees were not happy with Blizzard's decision either by self-censoring quotes from their company's Orc statue containing those ironic Free Speech quotes and protesting it in the following days.

When Overwatch launched on Nintendo Switch, Nintendo announced that in New York that if the first 150 players would come, they could meet the voice actors of the game, but due to the controversy, Nintendo announced via Twitter that Blizzard cancelled the event.[1] Mei, a character from the game of Chinese origin, would now become one of many unofficial Hong Kong protest mascots, alongside Winnie the Pooh.

Response

A prime example of how NOT to give an apology after causing such a massive controversy.

Blizzard president J. Allen Brack would issue an apology five days later, saying he had given the money back and cut the ban down to six months rather than a year, also stating that they simply did not wish to get involved in politics. However, many did not see this as a genuine apology, especially when they found that the Chinese Blizzard Twitter account said a different response by not apologizing at all and instead kept defending the Chinese government and starting insulting those that support Blitzchung.

J. Allen Brack would apologize again at BlizzCon 2019, stating that they moved "too quickly" in their decision, which they called "a tough Hearthstone e-sports moment", and they were "too slow" when it came to responding to the controversy. But just like the first apology, most people found the apology to be insincere.

Blizzard also flagged and took down YongYea's video reaction to J. Allen Brack's "apology", which shows Blizzard cannot take a slightest form of criticism towards the controversy.

Later on, Blizzard VP and the game director of Overwatch, Jeff Kaplan, stated he is against Blitzchung's ban, and wanted his ban to be cut down further or eliminated.

The backlash was so bad that Jeff Kaplan stepped down as the vice president of Blizzard, with other Blizzard employees leaving the company aswell.

WatchMojo placed the Blitzchung scandal on #1 on "Top 10 Epic Gaming Fails of 2019".

During Blizzcon 2020, A lot of gamers attended and they'd go to the mic and show their support for Hong Kong by saying Free Hong Kong

Videos

Comments

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