At 1p.m in i-One internet café, Causeway Bay, gamers start to walk into the shop, grab their seats, and play their favorite games. Sounds of gunshots, wielding swords, casting magic, and people shouting into microphones fill up the dimly-lit internet café. However, it is hard to see screens with games of Blizzard Entertainment such as World of Warcraft, Overwatch, StarCraft, and Hearthstone.
Just a few weeks ago, I saw some people playing Hearthstone in the store, but not so much anymore now.”
– John Yuan, manager of i-One PC Café in Causeway Bay
Blizzard Entertainment’s decision to punish a Hong Kong professional Hearthstone player Ng Wai Chung, also known as Blitzchung, on October 8th is the reason for the absence of the games in the café. Blizzard disqualified Blitzchung from all international tournaments for a year and deprived his prize money for saying “Liberate Hong Kong, the revolution of our times” during an interview after a victory.
The decision brought major reactions from the Hong Kong fans and gamers. People started to boycott Blizzard’s games, deleting games on their computers and applying for membership cancellation. Also, groups of senate and house lawmakers in the U.S-signed a letter urging the company to cancel their decision to punish Blitzchung.
Recently, a few U.S companies had gone through similar dilemmatic situations due to expressing support for current protests in Hong Kong. NBA and Apple faced similar controversies involving the Chinese government and companies that tried to exert pressure on them.
However, Chan Young Kim, a 23-year-old casual gamer, enjoys playing StarCraft in his dormitory. He thinks that Blizzard should not be so condemned so much.
The rules that Blizzard has could see Blitzchung’s attitude as violation. Politics is always taboo in sports scene”
– Chan Young Kim
Across gaming communities, players are debating over capitalism and politics. Many accuse Blizzard for sacrificing its values in favor of China to protect its large group of customers, but some think Blizzard has a point.
It looks like Blizzard game players are going extinct in Hong Kong. However, Blizzard games have never really been popular in Hong Kong to begin with. “Hearthstone is not that popular”, said Yuan. “I can’t check what people play, but when I look around the café, most people seem to play League of Legends, Fortnite or other shooting games”. Evidently, even before the incident went viral, Blizzard’s games were not played by many people in Hong Kong.
I don’t know, I don’t play Blizzard. I don’t care, but I think I won’t see much of Blizzard in here for some time.”
– John Yuan