Blizzard Entertainment takes winnings from gamer for anti-China remarks

By Jacob Roushia

An Esports player lost $10,000 over a political statement made during a postgame interview on Oct. 6. Ng Wai Chung, who plays under the handle Blitzchung, shouted “Liberate Hong Kong, revolution of our times,” according to CBS. This followed a Hearthstone match at the Hearthstone Grandmaster Tournament in Tapai, Taiwan. 

Hearthstone is a card-based video game, created and owned by the game company Blizzard. According to Blizzard, Blitzchung violated the rules of the competition. In section 6:1 of the rules it says:

“Engaging in any act that, in Blizzard’s sole discretion, brings you into public disrepute, offends a portion or group of the public, or otherwise damages Blizzard image will result in removal from Grandmasters and reduction of the player’s prize total to $0 USD, in addition to other remedies which may be provided for under the Handbook and Blizzard’s Website Terms.”

The company said that his actions broke these rules. Chung had to give up all of his winnings, and he is banned from playing the game for 12 months, according to IGN, a prominent video game news website. The casters that were interviewing the winner also lost their contract with Blizzard, even though they did not instigate or ask for the statement.

World of Warcraft is another one of Blizzard’s successful games. China makes up for about half of World of Warcraft’s 5 million player count in 2017, according to the BBC. Another important note is that a Chinese developer is creating a mobile Diablo Game for Blizzard. “The number of gamers in China is set to increase from 604 million in 2017 to 768 million in 2022,” according to Venturebeat, a technology and business news site. 

Blizzard has received major backlash about their decision to ban Blitzchung. Gamers have announced a boycott on Blizzard and their parent company, Activision-Blizzard video games and services. Players have posted screenshots of cancelling World of Warcraft subscriptions and uninstalling Blizzard games on Reddit. 

Mark Kern, an ex-Blizzard employee and founder of World of Warcraft spoke out against his old company. “But enough is enough. I stand with Hong Kong, and I oppose Blizzard’s obvious and laughably transparent fear of China. It’s time for Blizzard to grow the spine it used to have, and to do what’s right for gamers once again,” tweeted Kern. 

Even political officials in the United States had their say on the subject. “Blizzard shows it is willing to humiliate itself to please the Chinese Communist Party,” Senator Ron Wyden from Oregon, said on Twitter. “No American company should censor calls for freedom to make a quick buck.”

“Recognize what’s happening here. People who don’t live in China must either self censor or face dismissal & suspensions,” Senator Marco Rubio from Florida, tweeted on Tuesday. 

Comedy series “South Park” even created an episode, “Band in China,” the following day about companies changing to satisfy China’s rules. The Chinese Government banned the show in the country following the release of the episode.