US gaming firm Blizzard wins support from Chinese users after punishing esports player who supports HK riots

By GT staff member Source:Global Times Published: 2019/10/9 12:36:22

Chinese spectators in front of a Blizzard display stage at the China Digital Entertainment Expo & Conference, China Joy 2019, in Shanghai on August 2 Photo: VCG

US gaming company Blizzard is winning more support than ever from Chinese players and netizens, after the firm announced its decision to punish an esports player who voiced support for the Hong Kong riots during a competition held by Blizzard. 

Chinese netizens said the video game company has taught its peers, such as the National Basketball Association (NBA), a lesson about how to be responsible for the Chinese market instead of displaying Western arrogance and applying double standards when it comes to defending the freedom of speech.

Blizzard, one of the largest video game companies in the US, publishes popular games such as World of Warcraft and Hearthstone. It announced on its official blog on Tuesday that it would withhold prize money from Hong Kong player Blitzchung and would ban him from Hearthstone competitions for one year, beginning October 5. 

At a post-game live interview of Hearthstone's October 6 Asia-Pacific Grandmasters competition, Blitzchung donned a gas mask and shouted radical slogans in support of the Hong Kong riots at the end. Two broadcasters from the island of Taiwan showed support for Blitzchung's behavior, encouraging him to finish the anti-government slogan and speak clearly. They applauded after Blitzchung had completed his call. 

In response, Blizzard also terminated its contracts with the two broadcasters. 

"While we stand by one's right to express individual thoughts and opinions, players and other participants that elect to participate in our esports competitions must abide by the official competition rules," read the statement issued by Blizzard. 

When contacted by the Global Times on questions regarding its stance on Hong Kong issues on Wednesday, an employee of a joint venture (JV) between Blizzard and Chinese gaming company Netease said the JV is "undergoing internal discussions on the matter due to the sensitivity of the issue."

Blizzard's penalties on the anti-Hong Kong government player have been highly praised on Chinese social media platforms, with some saying that the US firm made the "right decision" that did not let Chinese esports players down. 

"Well done, Blizzard! And I will promote your games to more friends," said Weibo user Youyou.

A 25-year-old Hearthstone player, who spoke on condition of anonymity, told the Global Times that he will "reward" Blizzard with more money and more purchases from now on. 

"Blizzard shows foreign firms how to display the right values and respect Chinese consumers. The company is worthy my long-time support," players said. 

Blizzard's actions are being widely compared to those of the NBA on social media platforms. The NBA's businesses in China are now on the brink of collapse due to its reluctance to punish Houston Rockets general manager Daryl Morey, who posted tweet in support of the Hong Kong riots. Both organizations have made considerable profits from China, one of their most important overseas markets. 

"This is a world of difference: the NBA only showed Western arrogance and double standards in how they treated the Chinese, while Blizzard respected the sentiments of Chinese people and China's territorial integrity," Liu Dingding, a Beijing-based industry analyst, told the Global Times.

Blizzard's responsible behavior should set an example for other foreign firms when dealing with similar matters, Liu stressed.


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