The Blizzard/Hong Kong situation continues to rage on, especially in the US, as more and more people speak out against how Blizzard Entertainment handled the Blitzchung situation where he showed support for the people of Hong Kong. After that happened Blizzard Entertainment took the drastic step to ban him for 12 months and withhold prize money, as well as fire the broadcasters who allowed him to express his opinion.
The company has faced a lot of criticism since then, including from members of the US government. Blizzard Entertainment president J. Allen Beck released a rather confusing statement that did nothing to placate people and seems to instead have had the opposite effect. There was a claim that it had nothing to with pressure from China yet that hasn’t been met with belief by many people. That includes members of the US Congress who have now gone over Blizzard Entertainment, and written a letter directly to Activision Blizzard CEO Bobby Kotick.
Ron Wyden, Marco Rubio, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Mike Gallagher, and Tom Malinowski all signed off the letter in which the demand was made that Activision Blizzard decides whether it upholds American values of freedom of speech, or if it continues to bow down to China in the quest for market share. The full letter can be read below.
“We write to express our deep concern about Activision Blizzard’s decision to make player Ng Wai Chung forfeit prize money and ban him from participating in tournaments for a year after he voiced support for pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong. This decision is particularly concerning in light of the Chinese government’s growing appetite for pressuring American businesses to help stifle free speech.
Activision Blizzard benefits from China’s growing market for e-sports, along with an investment from Tencent, one of China’s largest technology firms. As you and your company are no doubt aware, the Chinese government uses the size and strength of its economy to suppress opinions with which it disagrees. Last week alone, the Chinese government targeted Apple for hosing an app to help peaceful demonstrators evade repression and the National Basketball Association because one team’s general manager tweeted in support of Hong Kong protests.
Your company claims to stand by “one’s right to express individual thoughts and opinions,” yet many of your own employees believe that Activision Blizzard’s decision to punish Mr. Chung runs counter to those values. Because your company is such a pillar of the gaming industry, your disappointing decision could have a chilling effect on gamers who seek to use their platform to promote human rights and basic freedoms. Indeed, many gamers around the world have taken notice of your company’s actions, understandably calling for boycotts of Activision Blizzard gaming sites.
As China amplifies its campaign of intimidation, you and your company must decide whether to look beyond the bottom line and promote American values–like freedom of speech and thought–or to give in to Beijing’s demands in order to preserve market access. We urge you in the strongest terms to reconsider your decision with respect to Mr. Chung. You have the opportunity to reverse course. We urge you to take it.”
Activision Blizzard could ignore this letter, which does it no favours, or addresses the concerns and make its position clear. Even with all of this backlash the company’s bottom line is unlikely to be affected in the short term at least considering Call of Duty: Modern Warfare will be released this week, and generate millions of sales.
Source: US Government