With Blizzard Entertainment under scrutiny over its recent suspension of a Hearthstone pro player for sharing political speech, Fortnite developer Epic Games has come out to say that it supports free speech, especially political speech from its players.
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. We wouldn’t ban or punish a Fortnite player or content creator for speaking on these topics."
What the spokesperson is referencing is Blizzard banning Chung "Blitzchung" Ng Wai, a professional Hearthstone player, from competing in the Grandmasters event. His offense? Saying "Liberate Hong Kong. Revolution of our age!" in solidarity with the people of Hong Kong protesting against the local government and police.
[BREAKING] Hong Kong Hearthstone player @blitzchungHS calls for liberation of his country in post-game interview:https://t.co/3AgQAaPioj @Matthieist #Hearthstone pic.twitter.com/DnaMSEaM4gOctober 6, 2019
Blitzchung won't be able to compete in Hearthstone esports for a whole year, starting October 5. On top of that, Blizzard is withholding any winnings that Blitzchung earned, which has been reported to be around $10,000.
Blitzchung said to Inven Global that "I think it’s my duty to say something about the issue."
Blizzard quoted its Hearthstone competition rule book, stating that "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 will result in removal from Grandmasters and reduction of the player’s prize total to $0 USD."
As you might imagine, the Blizzard Reddit has exploded, because why wouldn't it after a company you have supported boots one of its players for speaking out for democracy. There are several images and memes of Mei showing support for Hong Kong protesters.
Fans are also calling for a boycott of Blizzard's products, which include games such as World of Warcraft, Overwatch and Hearthstone. Even people who work at Blizzard have shown their anger and support by covering up the "Think Globally" and "Every Voice Matters" values circling the giant orc statue in the middle of Blizzard's campus.
Not everyone at Blizzard agrees with what happened.Both the "Think Globally" and "Every Voice Matters" values have been covered up by incensed employees this morning. pic.twitter.com/I7nAYUes6QOctober 8, 2019