On Monday, Blizzard banned Hong Kong Hearthstone player Ng “blitzchung” Wai Chung for calling for the liberation of Hong Kong in a post-game interview after a Hearthstone Grandmasters patch. Blitzchung’s punishment included a one-year competitive ban, expulsion from Grandmasters, and reducing his prize money to $0.
The decision has evoked a public outcry by Blizzard’s community and the news even reached traditional news platforms, who saw it as Blizzard taking a firm stand behind China, given their ties to the Chinese market and Chinese investors. While the official English ruling tried its best (though unsuccessfully) to say that the punishment has less to do with Blitzchung’s political position, but rather with making political statements altogether, the Chinese Hearthstone Weibo account left little doubt as to why Blitzchung was banned.
“We are very angered and disappointed at what happened at the event and do not condone it in any way. We also highly object the spreading of personal political beliefs in this manner. Effective immediately we’ve banned the contestant from events and terminated work with the broadcasters. We will always respect and defend the pride of our country.”
This statement is likely to hurt Blizzard’s public image even more, and right at the worst time possible with Blizzcon 2019 around the corner. The #BoycottBlizzard hashtag is already trending on Twitter, but the developer’s management has been absolutely silent on the matter.