Blizzard employees stage a walkout to protest banning of Pro-Hearthstone player Blitzchung

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The group of disgruntled employees held their protest in the centre of Blizzard’s main campus plaza, clearly visible by the company’s executive officers.

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I doubt anyone woke up at the beginning of this week expecting Hearthstone to be at the centre of an international incident, but I guess that reality is oftentimes stranger than we want to think it is. Following on from the events of the past two days that saw Blizzard banning professional Hearthstone player Chung “Blitzchung” Ng Wai, as well as rescinding his prize money and removing him from the Grand Master’s League, due to his declaration of “Liberate Hong Kong, revolution of our age” during a post-match interview. The actions taken by Blizzard have resulted in a massive backlash from fans as players have begun boycotting Blizzard’s products and speaking out against the company’s appeasement of the Chinese government.

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We reported yesterday that Blizzard employees were beginning to implement silent forms of protest across Blizzard’s Irvine, California campus with works covering up plaques that represented Blizzard’s values as a company; the plaques in question read “Every Voice Matters” and “Think Globally”. What started out as silent, anonymous acts of protest have now graduated into more visible and active action against Blizzard and those in charge. A report by the Daily Beast has indicated that a group of Blizzard employees have held a walkout to protest the banning of Blitzchung.

The group of about 30 workers, with protests filtering in and out all day, stood around the main statue of an Orc warrior that decorates Blizzard’s main plaza. Protesters held up umbrellas, which have been adopted as a symbol for “Free Hong Kong” protests that are currently ongoing. A petition regarding Blizzard’s decision has reportedly also been making the rounds at the company’s HQ; the petition will be presented to the company’s executives although there’s been no mention what the petition specifically contained.

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(Image credit: Standingwhk (Reddit)

“The action Blizzard took against the player was pretty appalling but not surprising,” a long-time Blizzard employee told The Daily Beast during an interview. “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.” Another employee echoed those sentiments, stating, “We want people all over the world to play our games, but no action like this can be made with political neutrality.” Another stated, “Doing business in China, it’s been easier to ignore the authoritarianism of the government because they were asking us to do things like remove a skeleton [from a game]. The stakes are so much higher now. What was previously an obvious decision is much less obvious now.”

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Outrage can still be felt across a range of forums dedicated to Blizzard’s products. Disgruntled fans have taken to adopting the image of Mei, a character of Chinese nationality in Overwatch, as a mascot for the “Free Hong Kong” protests, with the intention of having the game banned in China. Whether they succeed on this front is yet to be determined, but it’s a bold attempt nonetheless.

Last Updated: October 10, 2019

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