The past week has been pretty eye-opening for anyone following along with the massive amount of protesting that’s going on in Hong Kong, all supporting the fight for democracy. China has proven multiple times over that it has no patience when it comes to others not slinking around its draconian laws, and many non-Chinese companies have publicly made clear that money is more important than human rights.
As the days move on, and news out of Hong Kong continues to reach ad nauseam levels, the current effort from protesters represents an extremely important battle that aims to dramatically improve the lives of people living in Hong Kong (and likewise, China) more than just the government’s elite.
Overwatch’s Mei character has suddenly become a pro-HK protest symbol
Any company deciding to make a move against the Hong Kong protests are certainly playing with fire at this point. Earlier this week, Blizzard hastily removed pro gamer Blitzchung from a Hearthstone tournament due to his vocal support of Hong Kong in a post-match interview. Even the interviewers were canned. It could have been that Blizzard believed little would happen as a result, but long-time fans made it clear that the opposite is actually true.
Over at the r/Hearthstone, /r/Blizzard, and related subreddits, calls have been issued to close Blizzard accounts, and even delete characters. Some “whales” who’ve sunk sometimes ridiculous amounts of money into Hearthstone have even vowed their support. That might seem like a simple gesture, but it’s a good one – because what else are people on this side of the world supposed to do but try to hit these companies where it actually hurts? On no earth should anyone ever value profits over people, yet we’re seeing that en masse.
China’s stronghold on non-Chinese business is of a surprise to no one, but it might be easy to forget that there’s been many debacles that have happened in recent years. A well put-together reddit post from the r/worldnews subreddit makes that super-clear. But perhaps instead of only kicking the companies that treat money as their one true god, we should owe our thanks to those who’ve had the courage to stand out against the regime: South Park’s creators Matt Stone and Trey Parker, Red Bull, and Ubisoft.
To Blitzchung’s benefit, Immutable, maker of Gods Unchained, a competitor to Hearthstone, has offered to take him on and pay back the money Blizzard decided to withhold. That’s a bold move, and only makes Blizzard look all the more silly. Whether that actually matters is another story, since at the end of the day, companies like Blizzard have again proven that profits are more important than people. And gamers on these shores are thankfully having none of it.
There are a couple of more takeaways here. Blizzard just happens to be one of the companies that had something going on right this moment in China, and happened to have its decision backfire (at least for now). The truth is, though, that Blizzard is far from being the only game developer that would cave to governmental pressure like this if it means the pocketbook is affected, and for that reason, genuine improvement is rarely seen. The difference now is, other companies that might have made the same move may be a little smarter about their decisions going forward, because no game developer is going to want the kind of negative attention that Blizzard is receiving right now.