In These Partisan Times, The Only Thing That Gets Bi-Partisan Agreement Is That Blizzard Sucks

from the crossing-aisles dept

We live in partisan times. The left and the right might as well be cats and dogs, mostly incapable of living together and the subject of fascination by the public when they manage to work together in the slightest way. The country needs a rallying cry. Something to bring both sides of the aisle together to demonstrate to all that they can actually agree on things.

Blizzard appears to be that something. In the wake of the backlash against Blizzard for its actions taken to silence and punish eSports competitors that chose to voice support for the ongoing protests in Hong Kong, it seems that everyone from Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez to Marco Rubio agrees that the company needs to do much, much better.

Today, United States Senators Ron Wyden and Marco Rubio signed a bi-partisan letter with support from Representatives Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Mike Gallagher, and Tom Malinowski addressed to Bobby Kotick, CEO of Activision Blizzard, over the recent suspension of professional Hearthstone player Chung “Blitzchung” Ng Wai.

“We write to express our deep concern about Activision Blizzard’s decision to make player Ng Wai Chung forfeit prize money and ban him from participating in tournaments for a year after he voiced support for pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong,” the letter reads. “This decision is particularly concerning in light of the Chinese government’s growing appetite for pressuring American businesses to help stifle free speech.”

Now, it's true that this particular letter is toothless. It's also true that Blizzard has already reduced some of the penalties it levied on Chung, even though such a reduction was entirely besides the point and lowered the temperature on this controversy not at all. Still, what this really should highlight for the reader is that the public backlash against Blizzard has reached a volume that Congress critters are making public statements about it, and in a bi-partisan way. That's no small thing.

There is a great deal for one side or the other of the political aisle to be angry about these days. For Blizzard to unify that anger against itself should really inform the company's assessment as to how beneficial it is to bow to Chinese demands to stifle the speech of its competitors.

Again, this is a toothless letter...for now. But if it changes the calculus on future decisions Blizzard might take, that's a good thing.

Filed Under: alexandria ocasio-cortez, blitzchung, free speech, hong kong, marco rubio, mike gallagher, ron wyden, tom malinowski, video games
Companies: activision, activision blizzard, blizzard


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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 22 Oct 2019 @ 3:43pm

    I'm not a fan of the Chinese government, but lately the whole 'debate' has entered into full blown panic mode, and I dare say even racism.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Rocky, 22 Oct 2019 @ 3:46pm

      Re:

      Racism? Huh?

      Please elaborate your thoughts on that.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
        identicon
        Frankenstein has risen from the sofa, 22 Oct 2019 @ 3:54pm

        Re: Re:

        "Rocky", you a woeful "unconscious racist", as only a racist questions the charge whenever it's made.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          Rocky, 22 Oct 2019 @ 4:01pm

          The slimy coward slithers..

          ..into the light for all to see his grotesque countenance of lies.

          Now, slither back under your slimy rock before someone manages to soil their shoes on your back.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        Stephen T. Stone (profile), 22 Oct 2019 @ 4:08pm

        Some ignorant assholes are using the Blizzard shitstorm as cover for expressing anti-Chinese sentiment that lands into “that’s fuckin’ racist, yo” territory instead of “yes, the Chinese government sucks” territory.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 22 Oct 2019 @ 8:15pm

      Re:

      I will agree with you to the extent there are foreign racist chinese.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
    identicon
    Frankenstein has risen from the sofa, 22 Oct 2019 @ 3:52pm

    Everyone hates corporations except romneys and...

    masnicks and other extreme legalists, who believe that legal fictions are "persons" with Rights in the Constitution.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
      identicon
      Frankenstein has risen from the sofa, 22 Oct 2019 @ 3:52pm

      Re: Everyone hates corporations except romneys and...

      Then there's a bunch of loony leftists, as here, who think that corporations will implement their own views, woozy humanism, and are astonished when money/power is the sole concern of corporations.

      Now "Gary", Timmy's sock-puppet, can pop in and say that I'M a corporatist. That's how idiotic "partisanship" has gotten.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        Stephen T. Stone (profile), 22 Oct 2019 @ 4:01pm

        I’m not a sockpuppet. But you are a corporatist, and I say that because of your unabashed and unashamed support of copyright extremism, a view which benefits only corporations such as Disney. By the by, how do you feel about corporations using copyright to censor speech?

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        Gary (profile), 22 Oct 2019 @ 4:58pm

        Re: Re: Everyone hates Blue Balls

        So wait, now the neo-nazi form the mid-west, "Blue Balls" wants to call everyone Else a racist? Cool!

        Heya Blue -
        Per you, Corporations have no rights. So how can they hold a Copyright? Just asking, cornfed!

        Also - How many times have I called you "Cornfed"? Kinda curious why you keep track.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 22 Oct 2019 @ 8:39pm

        Re: Re:

        You sir, are a moron.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 22 Oct 2019 @ 5:23pm

      Re: Everyone hates ignorant motherfuckers

      Sup liar. Why don’t you just admit you lied about leaving forever.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 22 Oct 2019 @ 5:51pm

      Re:

      This is an article about everyone calling Blizzard, a corporation, an idiot. Including Masnick.

      It's clear that nothing short of Masnick getting castrated with a nuke will satisfy you.

      Have an Article 13 vote.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 22 Oct 2019 @ 5:57pm

    I just made my own little statement to Blizzard

    I just uninstalled Wow, Wow Classic and Battle.net. Will my single action mean anything? No, but if enough people uninstalled their Bliz games and their launcher they will notice.

    On a side note, WTF happened in this thread? The argument about this whole anti-china 'thing' is racist is by far the most insane thing I have read in a while.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Rocky, 23 Oct 2019 @ 3:10am

      Re: I just made my own little statement to Blizzard

      Well, I was a bit flabbergasted at the racist 'thing' - but as has been proven over and over again, racist assholes will always try to hijack anything in their effort to spread their shit.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        Gary (profile), 23 Oct 2019 @ 6:12am

        Re: Re: I just made my own little statement to Blizzard

        That is the standard policy of the current administration. "I'm not a crook - look at all the crooked allegations I can make up about Crooked Hillary! Biden is the REAL crook, look at his server in the Ukraine!!"

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 22 Oct 2019 @ 8:41pm

    The sad thing is is that as far as AAA game studios go, Blizzard is one of the least crappy. As opposed to say EA.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 23 Oct 2019 @ 9:32am

      Re:

      EA is one of the only major game studios not owned in whole or in part by a Chinese company/government actor.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 23 Oct 2019 @ 9:44am

        Re: Re:

        So what you're saying is Chinese money is better at making video games and providing customer service than US money. Got it.

        I think at this point the only possibly more hated studio than EA is Epic for their storefront shenanigans.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 22 Oct 2019 @ 9:43pm

    WoW Classic

    It was already clear that Blizzard had gone the way of the suck the moment they announced WoW Classic.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 23 Oct 2019 @ 9:23am

      Re:

      I don't follow.

      The only reason they announced WoW Classic was because the fans were demanding it. So much so that they re-engineered the original game server to play on. It was only after the major fan backlash when Blizzard sent them a cease-and-desist letter that Blizzard relented and spun up a classic server.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 23 Oct 2019 @ 9:33am

      Re: WoW Classic

      [Citation needed]

      WoW Classic is about the only thing Blizzard has done right in a very long time.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    BentFranklin (profile), 23 Oct 2019 @ 6:28am

    What would Blizzard do if someone wore a shirt that said "Free Everyone" or just "Freedom"? They'd sure be in a pickle then!

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    OA (profile), 23 Oct 2019 @ 7:25am

    I disagree

    I disagree. I think Blizzard blows!

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 23 Oct 2019 @ 7:44am

    Dear Techdirt Community, one of the wonderful words I have learned here is "hypocrite". And it is so funny to see whole Techdirt going wild about this topic. Today I can read here that there is even some bi-partisan fact-bending. But please, don't hesitate to correct me if I'm wrong. As far as I know, Blitzchung was not censored. He had his speech. And was then punished by Blizzard for violating the e-sports EULA, right? So how can this be even a Techdirt thing? I think Blizzard has absolutely nothing against Blitzchung's free speech - as long as he doesn't abuse their gaming plattform. And then, what's the accusation? That they are protecting their financial interests? Is this really a surprise? Are you saying that Blitzchung can violate his (semi) contract with Blizzard and Blizzard pays for that? Really? I find the public outcry over this so ... incredible? funny? And Techdirt? What I see here is a bunch of angry (old?) guys, sitting in their comfortable armchairs criticising others who protect themselves against being on the bad end of other's free speech. (Of course, according to Techdirt there is no such thing as a bad side of free speech.) For me, it comes down to a simple question: What did you do to support Blitzchung's free speech? Did you create a plattform for him where he can say anything he likes? I mean taking (your) real money to enable him to criticise the Chinese gouvernment? Hey, and you might team up with bi-partisan support from the Senat (which means something in these times as I read today). What is their platform to support Blitzchung? And you really criticise Blizzard to protect their money and their interests? "But the public outcry" I hear you say, "so it must be right". Yeah, same for them. If you really want to support the people in Honkkong (perhaps you remember the topic of Blitzchung's speech but usually you focus only on free speech) you - and the public - should stop bying Chinese products. Hmm, but you won't because it's so dirt cheap. Have fun and continue to criticise Blizzard ... from your China made devices. Other can stand up for civil rights, not you.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Toom1275 (profile), 23 Oct 2019 @ 8:07am

      Re:

      Dear Techdirt Community, one of the wonderful words I have learned here is "hypocrite".

      Congratulations.
      Now, if only you had bothered to learn what the word actually means, so you wouldn't have revealed yourself to be an unthinking moron with that wall of drivel.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Rocky, 23 Oct 2019 @ 8:09am

      Re:

      Well, it looks like you don't consider yourself to belong in the "other"-group which makes you a hypocrite. Just like Blizzard.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Tirear, 23 Oct 2019 @ 8:45am

      Re:

      It's nice that you are expanding your vocabulary. Another term I recommend learning is "chilling effect". Understanding how it works should greatly aid you in future discussions of censorship.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 23 Oct 2019 @ 9:42am

      Re:

      Today I can read here that there is even some bi-partisan fact-bending.

      Such as?

      So how can this be even a Techdirt thing?

      Because it has to do with freedom of speech. Blizzard's terms were not super clear on those particular forms of speech. And, while the restrictions are completely valid, it does smack of bending to political pressure. The fact that involves tech, gaming, and freedom of speech are absolutely something that would be a "Techdirt thing".

      I think Blizzard has absolutely nothing against Blitzchung's free speech - as long as he doesn't abuse their gaming plattform

      He wasn't on their gaming platform, and obviously they do.

      That they are protecting their financial interests? Is this really a surprise?

      Yes and no. Especially when an American company is potentially being pressured by a foreign government.

      Are you saying that Blitzchung can violate his (semi) contract with Blizzard and Blizzard pays for that? Really?

      That's not what is being said. What's being said is the contract may be wrong to begin with. Learn to read.

      What I see here is a bunch of angry (old?) guys,

      30 year old gamer here.

      sitting in their comfortable armchairs criticising others who protect themselves against being on the bad end of other's free speech.

      Not what is happening but you are free to be delusional.

      What did you do to support Blitzchung's free speech? Did you create a plattform for him where he can say anything he likes?

      Actually, yes. As evidenced by the anonymous comment sections on this very site.

      I mean taking (your) real money to enable him to criticise the Chinese gouvernment?

      Uh, yes.

      Hey, and you might team up with bi-partisan support from the Senat

      That would be great if they actually understood games and technology and you could get them to agree on more than just one thing once in a blue moon.

      What is their platform to support Blitzchung?

      Whose? The senate? Uh, news briefings, letters, email, social media, this site, etc....

      And you really criticise Blizzard to protect their money and their interests?

      Yes. If a company commits murder just to protect their money and their interests, would you support that too? At some point there is a moral line that must be drawn.

      "But the public outcry" I hear you say, "so it must be right".

      That's not what is being said at all.

      (perhaps you remember the topic of Blitzchung's speech but usually you focus only on free speech)

      What kind of nonsense is this? His speech is free speech.

      If you really want to support the people in Honkkong....you - and the public - should stop bying Chinese products.

      Yeah, let me know how that works out for you when you are living on the street butt-naked because practically everything is made in, or has components made in, China.

      Hmm, but you won't because it's so dirt cheap.

      No, it's mostly because you can't avoid buying the necessities and those are all at least partially made in China. And even if it there was a more expensive option, not everybody can afford that. Actually most people can't.

      Have fun and continue to criticise Blizzard ... from your China made devices.

      You mean like the one you just wrote that post from? News for you dude, most electronics (or their components) are made in China. I can almost guarantee you what you used to write that post was fully or partially made in China. Let's see, what was that word you just learned? Ah yes...hypocrite.

      Other can stand up for civil rights, not you.

      And obviously not you either. Hypocrite.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 23 Oct 2019 @ 8:38pm

      Re:

      Hi, Hamilton.

      Wasn't Richard Liebowitz supposed to win instead of getting his ass handed back to him in copyright court?

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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