Entertainment companies are often only as successful as their PR departments. Some may not allow for the politics of the company to influence purchases. Others are willing to support an organization that has a positive reputation. One genre of entertainment this mindset influences consumers is the video game market. When the company upholds reprehensible actions many decide to boycott the games. Hoping for a change in policy. Blizzard entertainment has destroyed its public image in the past few months.

Blizzard is the publisher of games such as “Overwatch” and “World of Warcraft.” Their image is diminishing in recent months due to one phrase: “Free Hong Kong.” This relates to the ongoing protests of Hong Kong citizens. Protests for freedom against the government. Blizzard is undermining the importance of individual freedom with their actions.

What Happened?

Chung Ng Wai, “blitzchung” won a cash prize of $10,000 during a hearthstone competition. During the winning ceremony, blitzchung voiced support for Hong Kong and its people. Blizzard was not happy about this and banned blitzchung for life. They also retracted his winnings. Blizzard stated that blitzchung violated a competitive rule.

This behavior is not new for video game companies. Capcom, famous for Street Fighter, once forbid players from having certain sponsors. These sponsors were inappropriate according to Capcom. Many Capcom players became upset due to this and China did nothing to help the situation. 

Blizzard attempted to backtrack and save face, but they did a poor job of doing so. Blitzchung got his winnings back and got a six-month ban instead of a lifetime ban.

Another event made Blizzard look bad as well. Three American college students received a six-month ban for actions they took. They held a sign that stated, “Free Hong Kong, Boycott Blizz.” Nintendo inserted themselves into the issue after that. They allowed fans to cancel their preorders of Overwatch, another Blizzard game. 

Did they do anything substantial?

Blizzard President, J. Allen Brack did nothing to help the situation at BlizzCon. BlizzCon is an event that Blizzard holds every year to promote their new games. Brack apologized for the banning without naming Blitzchung. I found the apology lacking on several levels. Brack said they “would do better,” but I doubt it. 

Overwatch 2 and Diable 4 both got announced at BlizzCon. This felt like a damage control announcement. What is even more laughable is that Overwatch 2 features a new female character. Adding salt to the insult is that the character is diverse in ethnic origin. 

China, I would assume, feels great about the situation. In an ironic turn of events, China imposed a curfew. The curfew is limiting minor citizen’s online usage. This limits how much they can game. Its’ intent is to limit video game addiction. 

I will not be purchasing any Blizzard products.  Due to their staggering ability to ignore the people for financial gain. The story of Overwatch 2 follows freedom fighters. This is super ironic. One character even states, “But you were heroes! You can’t let some politicians tell you what to do.” The world is full of this kind of corruption. It’s cathartic to see such a company face consequences for their actions.