Activision Blizzard is an American company out of California.
But you might be forgiven for not having thought that after their actions of the past week. In response to a gamer at their Hearthstone tournament making a statement supporting Hong Kong, the company not only suspended the gamer, Chung Ng Wai, for a whole year, they removed his $10,000 prize money as well and fired the two casters who were interviewing him and filmed his comments.
Gamers saw this as kowtowing to the Chinese with whom Blizzard has an intertwined business relationship. They viewed it as an attempt to intimidate not only gamers but the messengers who dare report on free speech as well.
But instead of intimidating, the event galvanized people. It caused a “blizzard” of anger against the company, particularly from people closest to the company who felt not only wasn’t it in keeping with American values but it was not in keeping with the company’s values as well.
Mark Kern, the man who led the team who developed World of Warcraft, cancelled his WoW subscription and called for a boycott.
— Mark Kern (@Grummz) October 9, 2019
From NY Times:
In an interview, Mr. Kern said China was a major source of revenue for the gaming industry, and he knew he was “closing many doors” careerwise by speaking out on Twitter.
But Mr. Kern, who lived in Hong Kong as a teenager, said the company’s actions were “a deterioration of Blizzard values that really broke my heart.”
“It’s one thing to stay out of politics in games, quite another to take harsh, punitive actions designed to appease a government whose values are against what Blizzard has traditionally stood for,” he said.
Kern wasn’t the only one taking action.
From The Verge:
A couple dozen Blizzard employees walked out of work Tuesday in protest of the company’s decision to ban a professional Hearthstone player who voiced support for the Hong Kong protesters over the weekend, according to The Daily Beast.
The employees met at a giant statue depicting an Orc Warrior outside of the Activision Blizzard offices in California. According to the Beast, employees came and went as the day continued on and topped off at around 30 concurrent workers. Someone claiming to be a Blizzard employee posted a photo of workers sitting beside the statue on the r/Hearthstone subreddit, where it was met with praise from members of the Reddit community.
The photo shows them with umbrellas, a sign of the Hong Kong protests. That enough may have put their jobs at risk.
— PC Gamer (@pcgamer) October 9, 2019
But that’s not all they allegedly did.
At the bottom of the Orc statue there are plaques that say “Think Globally” and “Every Voice Matters,” an important principle in which the company used to believe.
The employees covered them both, taping paper over them.
Not all Blizzard employees also agree on what happened.
— Cat-Musician (@life_accord) October 9, 2019
Not everyone at Blizzard agrees with what happened.
Both the "Think Globally" and "Every Voice Matters" values have been covered up by incensed employees this morning. pic.twitter.com/I7nAYUes6Q
— Kevin Hovdestad (@lackofrealism) October 8, 2019