Activision Blizzard has had an interesting few days. Hearthstone tournament champion Ng Wai Chung (also known as Bliztchung) had his $10,000 prize money and title taken away. This was in response to him shouting “Liberate Hong Kong, revolution of our times” during his post-game interview with two Taiwanese online video game show hosts. Despite the two hosts attempting to hide under their desks, looking to avoid the backlash, it was apparently no use. Blizzard fired them and has yet to give them a reason why. After the debacle, Blizzard employees around the offices staged walkouts. As if that wasn’t enough, now the public has gotten involved with the hashtag on twitter #BoycottBlizzard.
BoycottBlizzard, combined with all the previous negative press has gained a lot of traction. Screenshots and tweets abound with many players showing support by uninstalling Blizzard-related titles (Bungie letting out a sigh of relief). Users are posting alternatives to replace games such as Overwatch or Diablo with Paladins or Torchlight II. There are also screenshots with plenty of players canceling their accounts with Blizzard altogether, many of which when given the prompt on why their leaving put the #BoycottBlizzard combined with an explanation that typically involves human rights over financial gain.
Meanwhile, the wave of canceled accounts has not gone unnoticed by Blizzard. Recently, the process has gone from fairly straight forward, to suddenly requiring extra steps. “Requests may take up to 30 days to complete. You may be required to submit a government issue photo ID.” It didn’t stop there however, some users even reported Blizzard disabling all four authentication methods to “actively stop people from deleting their accounts.” Somewhere out there EA is simply rejoicing that it’s not them being touted as the worst video game company for a change.
— Slimp (@SlimpBTW) October 9, 2019
It’s no mystery why Blizzard is so keen on keeping China happy. The ban of consoles was lifted in 2015, leaving nothing but opportunity and big dollar signs. Combine that with the tensions between the U.S. and China over trade and that leaves a lot for them to lose. That’s just the problem though, players and consumers alike see nothing but a greedy company, instead of one willing to do the right thing. It doesn’t help that Blizzard’s method of dealing with it all was essentially lighting everyone one and everything on fire. Letting go of two announcers that essentially amounted to bystanders and striping the Hearthstone Champion of everything he worked for, simply because he believes in his homeland’s cause.
Blizzard has a mountain ahead of them. They’ve faced issues in the past with layoffs and poorly time mobile game announcements. This issue is on another level. Never have they faced #BoycottBlizzard. I’ll just say I’m really happy that I’m not on that PR team.