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. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 23 Oct 2019 @ 9:42am

    Re:

    Today I can read here that there is even some bi-partisan fact-bending.

    Such as?

    So how can this be even a Techdirt thing?

    Because it has to do with freedom of speech. Blizzard's terms were not super clear on those particular forms of speech. And, while the restrictions are completely valid, it does smack of bending to political pressure. The fact that involves tech, gaming, and freedom of speech are absolutely something that would be a "Techdirt thing".

    I think Blizzard has absolutely nothing against Blitzchung's free speech - as long as he doesn't abuse their gaming plattform

    He wasn't on their gaming platform, and obviously they do.

    That they are protecting their financial interests? Is this really a surprise?

    Yes and no. Especially when an American company is potentially being pressured by a foreign government.

    Are you saying that Blitzchung can violate his (semi) contract with Blizzard and Blizzard pays for that? Really?

    That's not what is being said. What's being said is the contract may be wrong to begin with. Learn to read.

    What I see here is a bunch of angry (old?) guys,

    30 year old gamer here.

    sitting in their comfortable armchairs criticising others who protect themselves against being on the bad end of other's free speech.

    Not what is happening but you are free to be delusional.

    What did you do to support Blitzchung's free speech? Did you create a plattform for him where he can say anything he likes?

    Actually, yes. As evidenced by the anonymous comment sections on this very site.

    I mean taking (your) real money to enable him to criticise the Chinese gouvernment?

    Uh, yes.

    Hey, and you might team up with bi-partisan support from the Senat

    That would be great if they actually understood games and technology and you could get them to agree on more than just one thing once in a blue moon.

    What is their platform to support Blitzchung?

    Whose? The senate? Uh, news briefings, letters, email, social media, this site, etc....

    And you really criticise Blizzard to protect their money and their interests?

    Yes. If a company commits murder just to protect their money and their interests, would you support that too? At some point there is a moral line that must be drawn.

    "But the public outcry" I hear you say, "so it must be right".

    That's not what is being said at all.

    (perhaps you remember the topic of Blitzchung's speech but usually you focus only on free speech)

    What kind of nonsense is this? His speech is free speech.

    If you really want to support the people in Honkkong....you - and the public - should stop bying Chinese products.

    Yeah, let me know how that works out for you when you are living on the street butt-naked because practically everything is made in, or has components made in, China.

    Hmm, but you won't because it's so dirt cheap.

    No, it's mostly because you can't avoid buying the necessities and those are all at least partially made in China. And even if it there was a more expensive option, not everybody can afford that. Actually most people can't.

    Have fun and continue to criticise Blizzard ... from your China made devices.

    You mean like the one you just wrote that post from? News for you dude, most electronics (or their components) are made in China. I can almost guarantee you what you used to write that post was fully or partially made in China. Let's see, what was that word you just learned? Ah yes...hypocrite.

    Other can stand up for civil rights, not you.

    And obviously not you either. Hypocrite.


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