After Hearthstone player’s ban, Blizzard is in hot water with lawmakers

Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images

Over the weekend, Blizzard Entertainment banned a Hearthstone player from participating in tournaments after he voiced support for the Hong Kong protesters. Now, US senators are criticizing the game’s publisher for its move.

“Blizzard shows it is willing to humiliate itself to please the Chinese Communist Party,” Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR) said. “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,” Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) said in a tweet on Tuesday. “China using access to market as leverage to crush free speech globally. Implications of this will be felt long after everyone in U.S. politics today is gone.”

On Sunday, Hearthstone player Ng “Blitzchung” Wai Chung was interviewed after a Grandmasters match. At the end of this spot, he covered his face with a Hong Kong protester-style mask and said, “Liberate Hong Kong. Revolution of our age!” Afterward, the interviewers hid under the table briefly, and the stream cut to a commercial break.

Only a few hours after the event, Blizzard, Hearthstone’s publisher, issued a statement saying, “While we stand by one’s right to express individual thoughts and opinions, players and other participants that elect to participate in our esports competitions must abide by the official competition rules.”

Blizzard is withholding any prize money Blitzchung would have earned and has banned him from competing in any tournaments for one year, effective on October 5th. The company also terminated contracts with the two casters conducting Sunday’s interview.

Blizzard did not immediately respond to a request for comment from The Verge.

Senators aren’t the only people upset with Blizzard’s decision. There appears to be internal dissent at the company as well. Values like “Think Globally” and “Every Voice Matters” that are displayed at the offices have been covered with paper.


FYI the Hearthstone subreddit ( is blowing up with people quitting hearthstone in protest of Blizzard’s moves

Corporate cowardice.

Or: a serious, nationalist country, versus an unserious, globalist trading bazaar. Hate them or love them, right now the former is winning.

It’s both.

Blizzard, NBA and Apple are just the latest that China money bought. Money is the sole master of these immoral blood sucking predators.

Not only that but r/blizzard has been changed to private

its public again and one of the first posts I see is the tiananmen square post that has tons of banned things haha

Mods set /r/blizzard to private and now /r/activision is getting raided as a result. This might be the only time I agree with the gamer outrage.

Seriously. 99 percent of the time the "censorship!" gamer crowd is just whining about localization changes or updates that don’t matter (ahem), but this time the outrage is, imo, dead on.

It would seem this week’s South Park was practically prophetic. SO many groups rushing to grovel before the CCP this week.

Honestly, I’d say this one is worse than the Vans or Rockets fiascos. At least those companies didn’t fire whoever happened to be nearby. The reaction to hide and laugh nervously is understandable. Not much you can say without seriously riling up one half of your customer base or the other.

From the human cent-ipad makingoff episode, they seem to make their episodes 7 days out from live on air so they can be pretty close to current affairs, they aren’t afraid to be the ones to pull the trigger.

God bless them

South Park is right on the money. You should see their sarcastic twitter post about begging China to be allowed back in.

Looks like r/Blizzard is back up, and it’s being absolutely spammed with the copypasta that supposedly causes the great firewall to autoban a site. For once, gamer outrage is mildly productive.

Oh, are we surprised at corporate duality? They have been doing for years, just look at the Civil Rights/LBTQ forefront runners in the U.S. like Apple, Google, Starbucks, and Nike shelving their moral and ethical principles to the Chinese or any other wealthy oppressive regime aka Saudi or UAE. I’m curious to see how the corporations will be able to balance standing on top of two different vehicles that move at different speeds, at some point you have to pick a side or fall flat to the ground.

I don’t see how you can put Google in that list.

They did censor searches on from 2006 until they found a backbone in 2010.

Businesses will be businesses. It wasn’t that long ago they happily used sweatshop labor, prison labor and even slave labor until people made a stink about it. Companies are there to make money, however they can get away with it. None of them are above it.

The NBA is willing to humiliate itself to please the Chinese Communist Party, is Congress gonna speak out against those cowards, too?

Presidential hopeful Beto O’Rourke responded in a tweet: "The only thing the NBA should be apologizing for is their blatant prioritization of profits over human rights. What an embarrassment."

And not just Beto, the NBA is receiving bipartisan condemnation. One of the few things we still agree on is that allowing China (or any foreign oppressive regime) to dictate our rights via corporate pressure is absolutely not acceptable.

THE BIG IDEA: Dozens of lawmakers from both parties dunked on the National Basketball Association on Monday for apologizing to the Chinese after the general manager of the Houston Rockets tweeted support for Hong Kong’s pro-democracy protesters. "Unacceptable," said Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.). "Disgusting" and "grotesque," said Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.). "Shameful!" added Sen. Rick Scott (R-Fla.). "The NBA chose its pocketbook over its principles," said Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.). "This is a mistake that they should fix quickly," said Sen. Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii).

I’m actually just a little happy to see Congress in agreement over something.

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