Whatever their reasoning is, right now, it isn’t working, as the protests have grown.
For starters: Epic founder and CEO Tim Sweeney went on-record, on Twitter, to say:
"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."
When someone pointed out that Tencent, a Chinese company, owned 40 percent of Epic Games (a huge number compared to the 5 percent stock they have in Activision-Blizzard), he doubled down on saying he wouldn’t punish the players, even saying that:
“Yes, absolutely. [Punishment] will never happen on my watch as the founder, CEO, and controlling shareholder.”
But he wasn’t the only one speaking out: more and more Blizzard employees themselves are reacting to their company’s bad decisions. Brian Kibler, a highly respected Hearthstone caster, has made the decision to opt out of the rest of the Grandmasters in protest of what he sees as an extremely disproportionate punishment for the crime at hand.
“The heavy-handedness of it feels like someone insisted that Blizzard make an example of Blitzchung, not only to discourage others from similar acts in the future but also to appease those upset by the outburst itself. . . When I learned about the ruling, I reached out to Blizzard and informed them that I no longer feel comfortable casting the Grandmasters finals at BlizzCon. I will not be a smiling face on camera that tacitly endorses this decision. Unless something changes, I will have no involvement in Grandmasters moving forward.”
Finally, throughout the day yesterday, Blizzard employees staged a small walk-out to protest the decision. Between a dozen and thirty or so employees loitered around the statue at the front of their office, holding umbrellas in a sign of solidarity with the protesters in Hong Kong. It’s noteworthy that this space is within clear view of the executive’s office.
We’re still about three weeks away from Blizzcon, where Blizzard executives can be forced, face-to-face, to address this controversy. It’s important we stay focused and angry for at least that long, so please: keep it up!