It’s no secret by now that the Chinese market is a very lucrative one for the entertainment industry. It looks like gamers perceive Blizzard to be prioritising that too much, with its banning of pro Hearthstone player “blitzchung”. As a result, a number of them are boycotting the company’s titles, not just the Hearthstone card game.
Over the weekend, Hong Kong pro Hearthstone player Chung Ng Wai, known as “blitzchung”, caused a stir by openly supporting the Hong Kong protests. In a post-match interview on the official Asia pacific Hearthstone Grandmasters livestream, he shouted “liberate Hong Kong, revolution of our age!” Following that, Blizzard dropped the banhammer on Chung, preventing him from participating in official Hearthstone tourneys for a year.
As a result, the Boycott Blizzard hashtag is now a thing on Twitter. Many users piled on, sharing screenshots of them cancelling their World of Warcraft subscriptions and Warcraft: Reforged pre-orders. Even a former developer for the company, who worked on a number of the company’s games since Starcraft of 1998, chimed in.
The decision by Blizzard was likely unavoidable. After all, Activision Blizzard has quite the investor in the form of Tencent, the publisher for many games in China. The stakes owned by Tencent amount to about five percent, but that’s still US$2.5 billion (~RM10.5 billion) that Activision Blizzard stands to lose if Tencent decides to withdraw support.