Blizzard Entertainment continues to take heavy criticism from all sides for its decision to suspend Hearthstone player Blitzchung and fire two casters after the player expressed support for Hong Kong’s protestors against the China-backed authorities that have been seen to be heavy-handed against people. While this doesn’t show Blizzard actively supports the Chinese authorities it has come under fire with politicians and the public calling the company out for bowing to pressure.
US Senators Marco Rubio and Ron Wyden both called Blizzard out for what the company did.
Recognize what’s happening here. People who don’t live in #China must either self censor or face dismissal & suspensions. China using access to market as leverage to crush free speech globally. Implications of this will be felt long after everyone in U.S. politics today is gone. https://t.co/Cx3tkWc7r6
— Marco Rubio (@marcorubio) October 8, 2019
Blizzard shows it is willing to humiliate itself to please the Chinese Communist Party. No American company should censor calls for freedom to make a quick buck. https://t.co/rJBeXUiwYS
— Ron Wyden (@RonWyden) October 8, 2019
Members of the gaming public began a campaign to turn popular Overwatch character Mei, one of Blizzard’s most recognizable characters, into one of the mascots for the Hong Kong protestors. It seems one of the aims is to have China come down hard on Overwatch and become a game that loses income from the Chinese audience.
It’s especially poignant as the heroes of Overwatch fight for justice and saving the world. It seems Blizzard chose to ignore its own lores and ethics. The actions of Blizzard also seem to go against the company’s own eight core values. One of those values is to lead responsibly.
Our products and practices can affect not only our employees and players — but the industry at large. As one of the world’s leading game companies, we’re committed to making ethical decisions, always keeping our players in mind, and setting a strong example of professionalism and excellence at all times.
Another is play nice, play fair:
We strive to maintain a high level of respect and integrity in all interactions with our players, colleagues, and business partners. The conduct of each Blizzard Entertainment employee, whether online or offline, can reflect on the entire company.
Of course, Blizzard Entertainment is far from the only company willing to do business in China. After all its a huge market of over a billion potential customers. Yet in an age where people are much more aware of ethical standards and hold companies to higher standards Blizzard Entertainment and the rest should, in theory, consider all points and maybe not kowtow to a regime that has been accused of harvesting organs.
Then again Chinese firm Tencent owns almost 5% of Activision Blizzard and that money plus a small ounce of control will have far-reaching impacts within the games industry.