Blizzard Suspends Hearthstone Player For Hong Kong Support, Pulls Prize Money

A Hearthstone player came out in support of the Hong Kong protests recently during a stream. Blizzard removed him from a competition, suspended him for a 12 years from competitive play, and rescinded his prize money for supposedly violating its official competition rules for the tournament. In my opinion, the rule itself reads more like an exit clause for when players engage in offensive or illegal acts, and it seems questionable as to whether a political statement is (or should be) caught under the rule.

It is noteworthy that Blizzard is partly-owned by a Chinese company and has a huge Chinese following. At the risk of sounding partial, it is disappointing to see one of the biggest video game companies whose mission statement is “Every Voice Matters”, kowtow to an oppressive regime. This is also interesting because right now the NBA and South Park are also embroiled in identical incidents, and both of those entities came off as more democratic and pro-Freedom of Expression, even though the NBA’s stance on this issue has been milquetoast at best.

3 responses to “Blizzard Suspends Hearthstone Player For Hong Kong Support, Pulls Prize Money”

  1. west pryde

    Definitely some heavy-handed punishment from Blizzard. Such a bad move too… if they had just let it go, only the community of people who watch competitive Hearthstone would have been exposed to the potentially dangerous and “seditious” comments – now it’s all over the news. Plus, it looks so bad to suppress freedom of expression like that for a few more dollars.

    In contrast, Epic Games’ CEO and controlling shareholder, Tim Sweeney, said he won’t do what Blizzard did, even though Tencent is a 40% shareholder:

  2. Anant Sidhu

    Its crazy how far this has gone because the Chinese government just banned all NBA pre-season games being streamed in China because of the support shown by some Houston Rockets personnel towards the Hong Kong protestors.

    This stuff is starting to get out of hand now.

  3. alexander tatti

    Thought it might be relevant to note that in response to the decision to ban Blitzchung, Mitsubishi Motors Taiwan has pulled their sponsorship of Blizzard esports events! I wonder who else might follow suit and start dropping their sponsorships.

    Here’s the link: