In case you’ve had your internet turned off for the past week, after a recent Hearthstone tournament match, a player from Hong Kong made a statement in support of Hong Kong (if you don’t know why Hong Kong is getting support, that’s more moving parts than I can recap for you). Blizzard, which is part-owned by Chinese mega-company Tencent and presumably likes all the money they get from China, turned around and cancelled this player’s tournament winnings and banned him from tournament play for a year.
Okay. I can see where Blizzard is coming from in this thing. They are a business, and they have a revenue stream to protect. But just because it’s within their right to punish this player, doesn’t mean I can agree that it’s right to punish this player.
I know a lot of people like to declare things as apolitical spaces; video games are one of those areas people like to attach to the “keep your politics out of my [insert X here]” phrase. I think that’s naive nonsense, to be honest. Video games are made by people, for people, and people are political. Even the absence of a political statement can be political. But that’s neither here nor there.
If Blizzard doesn’t want their platforms used to promote certain opinions, they can run things that way. They can excercise that incredibly vague “at our discretion” language in their terms and conditions. But they can also approach the situation in a manner that makes them look less like lapdogs rushing to avoid offense to glorious leader for fear of getting the lash. Their punishment of this player was overkill in my opinion, and the whole thing is not a good look on Blizzard.