The firestorm engulfing gaming giant Blizzard Entertainment is deepening as players and staff are speaking out against the U.S. video game-maker’s suspension of a high-profile professional gamer who expressed sympathies for protesters rallying for the last four months in Hong Kong.
On Tuesday, a small group of staff at Activision Blizzard’s campus in Irvine, California, reportedly staged a protest against the ban of Chung Ng Wai, also known as “Blitzchung,” according to the Daily Beast. A number of gamers also took to social media to say they were cancelling their Blizzard subscriptions, while the hashtag #BoycottBlizzard started trending on Twitter.
Blizzard had not responded to Caixin’s request for comment prior to publication.
While taking part in a live online interview during a tournament for players of the Blizzard-developed online card game “Hearthstone” over the weekend, the Hong Kong-based gamer used a slogan frequently heard at the city’s anti-government demonstrations.
Blizzard subsequently withheld Chung’s prize money and suspended him from Hearthstone esports events for a year for bringing himself and the company into public disrepute, a punishment that Chung described as unfair.
Chinese social-media reaction to the news was rather more condemnatory of Chung’s actions than Western observers, with some users commending Blizzard for acting decisively on the issue.
Chinese tech behemoth Tencent owns 5% of Blizzard’s parent, Activision Blizzard. Blizzard took some 12% of its total net revenues from the Asia-Pacific region last year, according to its earnings report.
Contact reporter Matthew Walsh (firstname.lastname@example.org)