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Old 8th October 2019, 08:27 PM   #1
Puppycow
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Blizzard's Kowtowing to China

One of America’s biggest gaming companies is acting as China’s censor

Quote:
Activision Blizzard, one of America’s biggest gaming companies, just bowed to Chinese censorship in a disturbing way: suspending a professional player of Hearthstone, its digital card game, over a statement supporting the Hong Kong pro-democracy protests.

The offending commentary from Chung Ng Wai, a Hong Kong-based player who goes by the name “Blitzchung,” came during an official interview on Sunday held after he won a match in the Hearthstone Grandmasters tournament, the highest level of competition in the game.

Chung said “Liberate Hong Kong, revolution of our time” — a protest slogan in the city — while wearing goggles and a face mask, items commonly donned by protestors to conceal their identity. The protests, which began over an extradition law, have morphed into a broad-based demand to protect the semi-autonomous city’s democratic political system from mainland China’s attempts to exert control over it.

On Tuesday, Blizzard came down hard on Chung. In an official statement on Hearthstone’s blog, the company announced that it would be suspending Chung for a year, forcing him to forfeit thousands of dollars in prize money from 2019 and firing the casters (commentators) who conducted the interview.

This is a big deal.
Blizzard's games include Warcraft, Starcraft, Diablo, Overwatch, Hearthstone, Heroes of the Storm, and others.

Although I'm just one casual gamer, they won't be getting any of my business for the foreseeable future.
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Old 9th October 2019, 01:39 AM   #2
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I don't think I'm subscribed to anything Blizzard. I'll check though and cancel if I am.

Just to check though, we're still letting the Chinese into all the major sporting events and whatnot?
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Old 9th October 2019, 04:18 AM   #3
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The nasty flip-side of consumer activism.

Another reminder that capital is inherently amoral. They just go where the dollars are, and in this case, a lot of those dollars are in Asia.

The Blizzard situation is still unfolding, but it is certainly possible they will just accept a huge loss of reputation in the US and the West as the price of doing business and continue to align themselves with interests of China.
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Old 9th October 2019, 04:30 AM   #4
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From the blizzard mission statement:

“Our products and practices can affect not only our employees and players -- but the industry at large. As one of the world’s leading game companies, we’re committed to making ethical decisions, always keeping our players in mind, and setting a strong example of professionalism and excellence at all times.”

Keep on making those ethical decisions!
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Old 9th October 2019, 04:33 AM   #5
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Originally Posted by Giz View Post
From the blizzard mission statement:

“Our products and practices can affect not only our employees and players -- but the industry at large. As one of the world’s leading game companies, we’re committed to making ethical decisions, always keeping our players in mind, and setting a strong example of professionalism and excellence at all times.”

Keep on making those ethical decisions!

I think that means they're going to maybe make some soon. Just after this has all blown over and those ethical decisions aren't expensive.
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Old 9th October 2019, 04:37 AM   #6
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Wikepedia's list of Blizzard games. Just in case, you know, anyone needs them for anything.


https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_o...tainment_games
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Old 9th October 2019, 04:45 AM   #7
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Originally Posted by Giz View Post
From the blizzard mission statement:

“Our products and practices can affect not only our employees and players -- but the industry at large. As one of the world’s leading game companies, we’re committed to making ethical decisions, always keeping our players in mind, and setting a strong example of professionalism and excellence at all times.”

Keep on making those ethical decisions!
Mission statements are super cool, so long as they don't conflict with raison d'etre of these companies which is to make as much money as possible.
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Old 9th October 2019, 11:07 AM   #8
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So...I shouldn't buy the Overwatch cookbook?
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Old 9th October 2019, 11:09 AM   #9
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Old 9th October 2019, 11:10 AM   #10
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Originally Posted by mumblethrax View Post
So...I shouldn't buy the Overwatch cookbook?
I'm thinking buy nothing Blizzard, unsubscribe, turn off battlenet accounts.

Oh, and don't give any money to the NBA - if you have to go to a game, carry a 'free Hong Kong' placard.
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Old 9th October 2019, 12:39 PM   #11
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Originally Posted by 3point14 View Post
I'm thinking buy nothing Blizzard, unsubscribe, turn off battlenet accounts.
I disagree. If you've already paid for Overwatch, and are enjoying the game, you can continue to play for free, taxing their servers without providing any more revenue. This is the true win-win.
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Old 9th October 2019, 12:40 PM   #12
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Elder Scrolls Online is on sale from Steam for ten bucks, btw.
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Old 9th October 2019, 12:44 PM   #13
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Hell, their recent games have been Crap anyway.
No great sacrifice here....
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Old 9th October 2019, 12:45 PM   #14
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Originally Posted by 3point14 View Post
I'm thinking buy nothing Blizzard, unsubscribe, turn off battlenet accounts.

Oh, and don't give any money to the NBA - if you have to go to a game, carry a 'free Hong Kong' placard.
NBA seems to have reversed itself on China.
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Old 9th October 2019, 01:06 PM   #15
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Originally Posted by theprestige View Post
I disagree. If you've already paid for Overwatch, and are enjoying the game, you can continue to play for free, taxing their servers without providing any more revenue. This is the true win-win.
Not really, since being active in the community still encourages others to do the same and even purchase more items.

*Sigh* guess I gotta retire Reinhart.
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Old 9th October 2019, 02:47 PM   #16
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Originally Posted by Donal View Post
Not really, since being active in the community still encourages others to do the same and even purchase more items.

*Sigh* guess I gotta retire Reinhart.
That's unfortunate. Rein is enjoying a bit of resurgence these days.
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Old 10th October 2019, 01:40 AM   #17
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Originally Posted by theprestige View Post
I disagree. If you've already paid for Overwatch, and are enjoying the game, you can continue to play for free, taxing their servers without providing any more revenue. This is the true win-win.

Interesting.

I think leaving the servers empty would make a greater point, but yours makes sense.
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Old 10th October 2019, 03:38 AM   #18
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Originally Posted by theprestige View Post
I disagree. If you've already paid for Overwatch, and are enjoying the game, you can continue to play for free, taxing their servers without providing any more revenue. This is the true win-win.
Those servers are cheap to run and Blizzards bottom line is tied into how many people are playing
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Old 10th October 2019, 04:36 AM   #19
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Originally Posted by Puppycow View Post
One of America’s biggest gaming companies is acting as China’s censor



Blizzard's games include Warcraft, Starcraft, Diablo, Overwatch, Hearthstone, Heroes of the Storm, and others.

Although I'm just one casual gamer, they won't be getting any of my business for the foreseeable future.
Kowtowing to Chinese censorship is unAmerican.
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Old 10th October 2019, 04:48 AM   #20
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Originally Posted by Puppycow View Post
One of America’s biggest gaming companies is acting as China’s censor



Blizzard's games include Warcraft, Starcraft, Diablo, Overwatch, Hearthstone, Heroes of the Storm, and others.

Although I'm just one casual gamer, they won't be getting any of my business for the foreseeable future.
I understand the reaction but shouldn't political statements during sports or competitive events be discouraged?
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Old 10th October 2019, 04:51 AM   #21
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Originally Posted by Belz... View Post
I understand the reaction but shouldn't political statements during sports or competitive events be discouraged?
Why?
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Old 10th October 2019, 04:51 AM   #22
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Originally Posted by Belz... View Post
I understand the reaction but shouldn't political statements during sports or competitive events be discouraged?

Political statements like playing the victors' national anthems during the medal ceremonies at international competitions?
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Old 10th October 2019, 04:53 AM   #23
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Originally Posted by Myriad View Post
Political statements like playing the victors' national anthems during the medal ceremonies at international competitions?
Or not allowing SA to compete for years?
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Old 10th October 2019, 07:42 AM   #24
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Apparently there are four methods to deactivate one's Blizzard account.

Blizzard appear to have disabled them all.

EDIT:

Apparently they haven't. It's just a technical issue.

https://www.bbc.com/news/technology-49999144
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Old 10th October 2019, 09:59 AM   #25
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Originally Posted by 3point14 View Post
Apparently there are four methods to deactivate one's Blizzard account.

Blizzard appear to have disabled them all.

EDIT:

Apparently they haven't. It's just a technical issue.

https://www.bbc.com/news/technology-49999144

According to that article, Blizzard is requiring anyone attempting to delete their account to upload photo ID for confirmation.

Yeah, I'm sure it's just a "technical issue". Blizzard's damage control is just as broken as their games.
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Old 10th October 2019, 10:27 AM   #26
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Originally Posted by luchog View Post
According to that article, Blizzard is requiring anyone attempting to delete their account to upload photo ID for confirmation.

Yeah, I'm sure it's just a "technical issue". Blizzard's damage control is just as broken as their games.

I agree.

I certainly would be wary of cancelling my Blizzrd account if I were Chinese:

https://www.businessinsider.com/chin...rvices-2019-10
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Old 10th October 2019, 10:33 AM   #27
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There was just an NBA kerfluffle about China throwing a hissy about someone supporting Hong Kong.

Correct me if I am wrong, but I thought Hong Kong was the "good guys," the pro-democracy capitalists who stood up to Chairman Mao?

Why should anyone be apologetic about standing in support of them? Because mainland China is now a strong enough economy that it is financially costly to oppose them?

Come on, let's be a superpower, and lead. Yeah right....
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Old 10th October 2019, 10:36 AM   #28
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Originally Posted by Myriad View Post
Political statements like playing the victors' national anthems during the medal ceremonies at international competitions?
Maybe, yes.

Could you answer my question?
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Old 10th October 2019, 10:42 AM   #29
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Originally Posted by 3point14 View Post
Interesting.

I think leaving the servers empty would make a greater point, but yours makes sense.
Or just play the games in single player mode for a while.
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Old 10th October 2019, 10:44 AM   #30
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BlizzCon is in less than a month. That's guaranteed to be super awkward. Unless there's a gigantic reversal on policy, they will likely not allow any audience members to get near a microphone during for a Q&A or something similar.

This might be one of the most high-profile PR disasters I've ever seen in gaming.

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Old 10th October 2019, 11:02 AM   #31
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Originally Posted by I Am The Scum View Post
BlizzCon is in less than a month. That's guaranteed to be super awkward. Unless there's a gigantic reversal on policy, they will likely not allow any audience members to get near a microphone during for a Q&A or something similar.

This might be one of the most high-profile PR disasters I've ever seen in gaming.
Somewhere, EA are laughing.
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Old 10th October 2019, 12:11 PM   #32
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In a couple of forums on gaming web pages, there is a flood of Pro Chinese Government rants, one saying anybody criticizing the Chinese Government has been "Brainwashed by corrupt Western Media".
It is to make one laugh.
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Old 10th October 2019, 12:28 PM   #33
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Originally Posted by dudalb View Post
In a couple of forums on gaming web pages, there is a flood of Pro Chinese Government rants, one saying anybody criticizing the Chinese Government has been "Brainwashed by corrupt Western Media".
It is to make one laugh.

Apparently great fun can be had simply by saying "Taiwan" in online games populated by Chinese players.
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Old 10th October 2019, 07:26 PM   #34
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Was this "official" interview conducted by Blizzard or some news organization, or...?

I ask because I am against what Kaepernick did because he did so on company time, wearing a company uniform, and using air time supplied by the company (NFL). He was at work.

If this gamer said this during a match, or during some official Blizzard event then I say they have an argument. If he did this on his own free time, or on CNN then no.

If Kap spoke his mind on his own time then I would have no problem with him either.
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Old 11th October 2019, 01:14 AM   #35
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Originally Posted by Belz... View Post
I understand the reaction but shouldn't political statements during sports or competitive events be discouraged?
Depends how important you think it is I guess, but even when they sing "God Bless America" during the 7th inning stretch, that's a sort of official political statement, isn't it?

I seem to remember a recent controversy in Australia. A rugby player said some politically unpopular things about homosexuality and was banned from the sport, if I recall correctly. His contract was terminated and now he cannot play rugby.

So maybe it depends. Something to consider anyway. When someone is punished for saying something we find abhorrent, we applaud, but if they are punished for saying something we agree with, it's a very different reaction.

This is the case: Israel Folau alleges 'bias' in unlawful dismissal claim
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Old 11th October 2019, 04:28 AM   #36
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Originally Posted by Belz... View Post
Maybe, yes.

Could you answer my question?

I have no objection to the playing of national anthems at medal ceremonies. As that is "maybe" a form of political statement, I can't agree that all political statements in competition events should be discouraged.

I can see discouraging political statements during competition time, as that would be likely to interfere with or detract from the competition. I wouldn't want a basketball player to stop and make a speech in the middle of a fast break while the game clock is running, for instance. But a post-game interview like the one in which the 'offending' player statement that Blizzard punished took place seems an appropriate place for learning about players' personal perspectives and feelings. Isn't that what post-game interviews are for? And if so, why shouldn't that include political views? We don't expect players in post-game interviews to recap the competition we just watched. The purpose of such interviews is to get to know the players better.
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Old 11th October 2019, 04:54 AM   #37
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Streisand effect in action.

If Blizzard had just given the guy a one day ban and a polite warning for breaking a 'no politics' rule, nothing would have happened.

As it is, the whole issue has trashed Blizzard's reputation while bringing the HK/PRC issues to the forefront of people's attention in a way the protesters could only fantasize about.
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Old 11th October 2019, 04:58 AM   #38
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Originally Posted by Hubert Cumberdale View Post
Streisand effect in action.

If Blizzard had just given the guy a one day ban and a polite warning for breaking a 'no politics' rule, nothing would have happened.

As it is, the whole issue has trashed Blizzard's reputation while bringing the HK/PRC issues to the forefront of people's attention in a way the protesters could only fantasize about.

They've dealt with it in a very Chinese way. Punishment meted out, no cares at all for how it will be viewed, not to be spoken of by anyone on pain of pain and then wait for it to be be forgotten. This works brilliantly in China. Not so well in the rest of the world, I think.
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Old 11th October 2019, 07:45 AM   #39
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Originally Posted by mgidm86 View Post
Was this "official" interview conducted by Blizzard or some news organization, or...?
All of this information is readily available. He did it in a post game interview on a live stream.

Quote:
I ask because I am against what Kaepernick did because he did so on company time, wearing a company uniform, and using air time supplied by the company (NFL). He was at work.
It was before a game, not during. He simply did not participate in a company mandated political display, which he is supposed to be protected form punishment for.

Quote:
If this gamer said this during a match, or during some official Blizzard event then I say they have an argument. If he did this on his own free time, or on CNN then no.

If Kap spoke his mind on his own time then I would have no problem with him either.
Right, they should do this stuff in a way that does not come to your attention. Because that is how change happens.
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Old 11th October 2019, 06:46 PM   #40
I Am The Scum
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Blizzard has released a statement. While they are lightening the suspension, they still maintain that blitzchung's behavior deserved punishment. Oddly, they are backing up their decision on a pretty obvious lie:

Quote:
The specific views expressed by blitzchung were NOT a factor in the decision we made. I want to be clear: our relationships in China had no influence on our decision.
Furthermore, they are doing a similar doubling down on punishing the casters:
Quote:
With regard to the casters, remember their purpose is to keep the event focused on the tournament. That didn’t happen here, and we are setting their suspension to six months as well.
This is the part that really made me laugh:
Quote:
Moving forward, we will continue to apply tournament rules to ensure our official broadcasts remain focused on the game and are not a platform for divisive social or political views.
Mr. Brack is clearly unfamiliar with the Streisand Effect. Just imagine if blitzchung had made his pro-Hong Kong statement, and then Blizzard did absolutely nothing in response. Chances are, none of us would have ever heard about it. But even knowing what they know now - a week after the firestorm started - they decide to only remove half of the knife from their victims.

Whatever their next broadcast is, I can guarantee it will not "remain focused on the game."
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