Monday, 21 October, 2019

Epic Games Dunks on Blizzard, Says It Supports Free Speech

Brian Kibler will not be casting the Hearthstone Grandmasters finals at BlizzCon Brian Kibler will not be casting the Hearthstone Grandmasters finals at BlizzCon
Emmett Howard | 11 October, 2019, 20:13

For those in need of context, a wave of controversy has encircled the entertainment industry recently over China's influence on popular media including the National Basketball Association and, more relevantly, video games.

Kibler, who himself has competed in several professional-level tournaments for Hearthstone and Magic: the Gathering and been a frequent caster for Hearthstone in the past, was scheduled to cast for the Grandmasters finals at BlizzCon 2019, which is taking place November 1-2 this year.

"Revolution for our age!" he said in Mandarin in an interview. Blitzchung was also wearing a similar mask when he appeared on the stream.

Phoenix Bruneau, 15, is boycotting Hearthstone.

In an interview with the Verge, an Epic Games spokesperson said "Epic supports everyone's right to express their views on politics and human rights".

While Blizzard has cited the rule violation as cause for Blitzchung's ban, it's hard to ignore what the Chinese market represents for western publishers with more than 312 million PC gamers. I will not be a smiling face on camera that tacitly endorses this decision. " In Blizzard's English language blog post on the Blitzchung situation, the company said it was because Chung violated Blizzard Rules section 6.1 (o) which states can punish players that engage "in any act that, in Blizzard's sole discretion, brings you into public disrepute, offends a portion or group of the public, or otherwise damages Blizzard image [.]" Blizzard announced it removed Chung from its Grandmasters tournament, banned him for 12 months, and rescinded his prize money of Dollars 10,000". This is true for World of Warcraft, Diablo, and the game that sparked this whole controversy, Hearthstone.

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The company said Chung's actions violated a competition rule prohibiting players from "engaging in any act that, in Blizzard's sole discretion, brings you into public disrepute, offends a portion or group of the public, or otherwise damages Blizzard image".

China's government has targeted an array of US -based organizations, including the National Basketball Association, for perceived support of the Hong Kong anti-government protests.

Eventually, the bill was dropped, but protests have continued as an anti-government, pro-democracy movement.

"I do not have to agree with the actions or policies of any employer, partner, or service to continue to be affiliated with them".

Blitzchung said to Inven Global that "I think it's my duty to say something about the issue". "I am pretty sure I won't get that kind of punishment if my speech was pro-China-government".

There have been reports that Blizzard employees walked off the job in protest on Wednesday.

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