After Blitzchung, a professional Hearthstone player, made a supportive comment about the protestants in Hong Kong in an after-game interview, the gamer received a year-long ban and didn’t receive any of his winnings along with the interviewers. This decision of Blizzard was widely criticized, and as a result of the company to apologize and reduced the ban to six months of all the recipients and Blitzchung also received his winnings. The company, who was thought to be lured by Chinese politics, however, claimed that the Chinese market had no hand in the decision.
Tencent owns a 4.9% Stake in Activision Blizzard, the parent company of Blizzard.
A letter was received by Bobby Kotick, CEO of Activision Blizzard on Friday, which was sent by Members of Congress Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez, Mike Gallagher and Tom Malinowski, and US Senators Ron Wyden and Marco Rubio. In the letter, the US powerholders urged the company not to censor free speech for conciliating China.
The letter said:
“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 hosting 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 the course. We urge you to take it.”
Unfortunately, the company has not made clear of its future action towards Blitzchung, but the uproar against the ban is still prevalent.