In These Partisan Times, The Only Thing That Gets Bi-Partisan Agreement Is That Blizzard Sucks

from the crossing-aisles dept

We live in partisan times. The left and the right might as well be cats and dogs, mostly incapable of living together and the subject of fascination by the public when they manage to work together in the slightest way. The country needs a rallying cry. Something to bring both sides of the aisle together to demonstrate to all that they can actually agree on things.

Blizzard appears to be that something. In the wake of the backlash against Blizzard for its actions taken to silence and punish eSports competitors that chose to voice support for the ongoing protests in Hong Kong, it seems that everyone from Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez to Marco Rubio agrees that the company needs to do much, much better.

Today, United States Senators Ron Wyden and Marco Rubio signed a bi-partisan letter with support from Representatives Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Mike Gallagher, and Tom Malinowski addressed to Bobby Kotick, CEO of Activision Blizzard, over the recent suspension of professional Hearthstone player Chung “Blitzchung” Ng Wai.

“We write to express our deep concern about Activision Blizzard’s decision to make player Ng Wai Chung forfeit prize money and ban him from participating in tournaments for a year after he voiced support for pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong,” the letter reads. “This decision is particularly concerning in light of the Chinese government’s growing appetite for pressuring American businesses to help stifle free speech.”

Now, it's true that this particular letter is toothless. It's also true that Blizzard has already reduced some of the penalties it levied on Chung, even though such a reduction was entirely besides the point and lowered the temperature on this controversy not at all. Still, what this really should highlight for the reader is that the public backlash against Blizzard has reached a volume that Congress critters are making public statements about it, and in a bi-partisan way. That's no small thing.

There is a great deal for one side or the other of the political aisle to be angry about these days. For Blizzard to unify that anger against itself should really inform the company's assessment as to how beneficial it is to bow to Chinese demands to stifle the speech of its competitors.

Again, this is a toothless letter...for now. But if it changes the calculus on future decisions Blizzard might take, that's a good thing.

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Filed Under: alexandria ocasio-cortez, blitzchung, free speech, hong kong, marco rubio, mike gallagher, ron wyden, tom malinowski, video games
Companies: activision, activision blizzard, blizzard


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  1. This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
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    Anonymous Coward, 23 Oct 2019 @ 7:44am

    Dear Techdirt Community, one of the wonderful words I have learned here is "hypocrite". And it is so funny to see whole Techdirt going wild about this topic. Today I can read here that there is even some bi-partisan fact-bending. But please, don't hesitate to correct me if I'm wrong. As far as I know, Blitzchung was not censored. He had his speech. And was then punished by Blizzard for violating the e-sports EULA, right? So how can this be even a Techdirt thing? I think Blizzard has absolutely nothing against Blitzchung's free speech - as long as he doesn't abuse their gaming plattform. And then, what's the accusation? That they are protecting their financial interests? Is this really a surprise? Are you saying that Blitzchung can violate his (semi) contract with Blizzard and Blizzard pays for that? Really? I find the public outcry over this so ... incredible? funny? And Techdirt? What I see here is a bunch of angry (old?) guys, sitting in their comfortable armchairs criticising others who protect themselves against being on the bad end of other's free speech. (Of course, according to Techdirt there is no such thing as a bad side of free speech.) For me, it comes down to a simple question: What did you do to support Blitzchung's free speech? Did you create a plattform for him where he can say anything he likes? I mean taking (your) real money to enable him to criticise the Chinese gouvernment? Hey, and you might team up with bi-partisan support from the Senat (which means something in these times as I read today). What is their platform to support Blitzchung? And you really criticise Blizzard to protect their money and their interests? "But the public outcry" I hear you say, "so it must be right". Yeah, same for them. If you really want to support the people in Honkkong (perhaps you remember the topic of Blitzchung's speech but usually you focus only on free speech) you - and the public - should stop bying Chinese products. Hmm, but you won't because it's so dirt cheap. Have fun and continue to criticise Blizzard ... from your China made devices. Other can stand up for civil rights, not you.

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