Blizzard demanded Dallas Fuel assistant coach Justin “Jayne” Conroy delete a tweet in which he supported Hong Kong’s protest.
The now-deleted tweet noted that Blizzard had the right to enforce its rules, although he didn’t agree with the video game developer’s level of censorship “and severity of consequences.”
Ironically, Jayne was told he must remove the very tweet that called Blizzard out on their censorship. It’s this continued censorship that has caused a huge backlash against Blizzard in recent days.
When Hearthstone Grandmasters player Chung “Blitzchung” Ng Wai used the tournament as a platform to call for the liberation of Hong Kong, Blizzard responded by banning him from the prestigious event. They also revoked his prize money.
While this was enough to have the gaming community up in arms, Blizzard also fired the two commentators that had been present during Blitzchung’s political stand. The two Hearthstone casters had hid behind the desk, presumbaly in fear of being associated with the event. Their fears proved understandable, given Blizzard’s response.
Blizzard was soon forced to lock their subreddit thanks to the immense backlash they were facing. Reddit users called for a boycott of Blizzard’s games. Other Redditors, including Mark Kern, World of Warcraft’s former team lead, told everyone to request personal information in order to backlog Blizzard. He claimed that if the developers don’t give the personal information within 30 days, the European Union will fine them.
On Twitter, #Blizzardboycott and other similar hashtags began to trend.
Another interesting form of protest was using Overwatch’s Mei as a symbol of Hong Kong’s protests. Many drawings depicted Mei wearing a mask and holding an umbrella, which protesters are currently using to protect themselves against pepper spray.
The community’s goal is to get Overwatch banned in China. This is based on the belief that the country will react similarly to how they banned Winnie the Pooh after many mocked Chinese President Xi Jinping for resembling the silly old bear. If Overwatch were to be banned in China, Blizzard would lose a lot of money, which is exactly what internet trolls are hoping for. It would another serving of irony, since many believe that Blizzard will do anything to please China.
Within Blizzard itself, approximately a dozen employees staged a protest earlier this week. The peaceful walkout soon turned into about 30 employees meeting at the Orc Warrior statue outside of the Irvine office. They were hoping to make a statement about Blitzchung’s harsh punishment at the hands of the company.
Another game developer, Epic Games, stated that they support “everyone’s right to express their views on politics and human rights.”
Even politicians have joined in on the Blizzard backlash.
“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,” stated Senator Roth Wyden, a Democrat representing Oregon.
So far, Blizzard hasn’t responded to all of the outrage over its actions. A day ago, Blizzard claimed to be were “assessing the situation” after Blitzchung told Engadget that the punishment was a direct “violation of free speech.”
“I am pretty sure I won’t get that kind of punishment if my speech was pro-China-government,” Blitzchung said.