It’s not just the Blizzard community upset over the recent pro player ban, it was some of the employees as well. Earlier this week, Blizzard found themselves at the center of controversy once more following a decision to ban a pro Hearthstone Hong Kong players after he made a public statement of support during an interview. Following the ban and his removal of prize money, more pro players lent their voice in support while the community came alive to protest Blizzard’s decision. Now it looks like even the company’s employees are now weighing in.
The photo below was shared on the Blizzard subreddit and shows a group of employees gathered outside during the workday to stand in protest. The umbrellas seen in the photo are also meant to be representative of the Hong Kong pro-democracy Umbrella Movement. In addition, select employees covered up a plaque on the famous Orc statue in the courtyard that houses Blizzard’s values, specifically covering up “Think Globally” and “Every Voice Matters.”
In a recent report by the Daily Beast, one employee came forward saying “We want people all over the world to play our games, but no action like this can be made with political neutrality. Blizzard makes a lot of money in China, but now the company is in this awkward position where we can’t abide by our values.”
For those that are just now tuning into what’s going on, the Hong Kong protests have been escalating since they began in June following a proposed law calling for the extradition of criminals to mainland China to be judged. This was a cause for concern by many due to the former policy that established a “one country, two systems” agreement back in 1997 regarding Hong Kong and China. Though the bill that kickstarted this all has been suspended, the protests have continued to build in a bid for freedom and liberation for Hong Kong and its citizens.
As mentioned in our previous coverage, the tag #BoycottBlizzard began with a post-match interview with Hong Kong Hearthstone pro Chung “blitzchung” Ng Wai where he called for the liberation of Hong Kong from China in the midst of a massive protest going on now. In the interview, the pro player could be seen wearing a gas mask and goggles, which is the garb seen in protesters actively protesting. According to recent reports, he removed the mask and proclaimed “Liberate Hong King, a revolution of our age!” Since then, the interview has been deleted (though can still be seen below) and Blizzard has removed both the pro player’s place in the league as well as his winnings.
“As you know there are serious protests in my country now. My call on stream was just another form of participation of the protest that I wish to grab more attention,” Chung mentioned in a statement. “I put so much effort in that social movement in the past few months, that I sometimes couldn’t focus on preparing my Grandmaster match. I know what my action on stream means. It could cause me lot of trouble, even my personal safety in real life. But I think it’s my duty to say something about the issue.”
With BlizzCon just a mere few weeks away, it will be interesting to see how the company tackles this particular mess now that it’s reached such a viral level.