The Blizzard controversy has been ongoing for well over a week now. However, instead of dying down, things are actually spiraling out of control for the company. If you’re out of the loop, here’s what’s happening. Over the past few months, tensions have been on the rise between the Chinese authorities and the people in Hong Kong amidst the movement to liberate Hong Kong.
So, Last week, during the Asia Specific Hearthstone Grandmasters tournament, NG “Blitzchung” Wai Chung stood up for the people of Hong Kong and shouted “Liberate Hong Kong, revolution of our age!” in Mandarin during the post-match interview.
However, it backfired for him as Blizzard decided that it was a step too far and banned Blitzchung from Hearthstone competitions for a year and made him forfeit all of his tournament winnings.
Massive backlash from the community
The ban by Blizzard obviously didn’t go down very well with people and resulted in very vocal and intense backlash against Blizzard. People started actively boycotting Blizzard products as they felt like Blizzard was bowing down to the Chinese authorities.
After a while, Blizzard did release a response statement and reduced Blitzchung’s suspension to six months. The response from Blizzard read that Chung’s actions had violated a tournament rule forbidding players from doing anything that “brings you into public disrepute, offends a portion or group of the public, or otherwise damages Blizzard’s image.”
The statement was not very tasteful in the eyes of the public though and came off as very arrogant because the company did not really apologize for anything and tried to justify the ban.
Nintendo also separates itself from Blizzard
In addition to the boycott Blizzard movement, Mei from Overwatch also became a symbol of the Hong Kong liberation as people attempted to get Blizzard games banned in China. While this was going down, the Switch launch for Overwatch was also approaching.
However, the event was cancelled at the last minute due to obvious reasons. In addition to the cancellation of the event, Nintendo also slowly backed away from Blizzard as it secretly pulled Overwatch off the Nintendo eShop. Furthermore, Nintendo also promised to refund the people who had pre-ordered the game but didn’t want to support Blizzard anymore.
The game didn’t exactly gather very good reviews on the Switch either making the whole situation even more bitter between Nintendo and Blizzard. The move was also probably pushed by the numerous posts on the Nintendo subreddit asking Nintendo to boycott as well.
Blizzard bans even more Hearthstone players amidst backlash
If you thought that the saga was about to end, you were wrong as now have a new development and it isn’t very positive. Blizzard, continuing their spree of bad decisions, has decided to ban three more Hearthstone players who were expressing their support for the Hong Kong cause.
The three players in this case were Casey Chambers, Corwin Dark, and Tjammer from the American University collegiate Hearthstone team. During one of their streams, they held up a sign that read “Free Hong Kong, Boycott Blizzard”. Blizzard though, did not react to the gesture from the streamers initially, leading people to believe that maybe the company had loosened it’s restraints on the harsh banning policy or that maybe American players were being treated differently.
However, that changed soon as Blizzard went on to eventually ban the American University team for six-months. Here’s what they had to say about the situation:
During week 4 of the Fall 2019 Hearthstone Collegiate Championships, players GiantDwarf, TJammer and Xcelsior were in violation of section 7.1.B of the Hearthstone Collegiate Championship rules for engaging in behavior disruptive to the official esports broadcast. The players are disqualified from the ongoing tournament and will be ineligible to participate in Hearthstone esports for 6 months, beginning from October 8th, 2019 and extending to April 8th, 2020. Following the 6 months suspension, the players may, at their discretion, continue to participate in Hearthstone esports.
This probably won’t be the last time we’re going to see this though as protests against Blizzard continue in full force. The company has found itself in a very sticky situation and it would be very hard to recover from this point. Furthermore, Blizzcon is also only a couple of weeks away and it would be interesting to see how that pans out.
Do you think Blizzard is doing the right thing by suppressing player voices and handing out these bans? Will the company be able to recover from this point? Let us know down in the comments below!