In October of 2019, Blizzard made international news headlines when it banned a Hong Kong Hearthstone esports pro and two Taiwanese contracted casters over a brief “Hong Kong liberation” stunt during a post-match interview. The decision sparked widespread protests and a “Boycott Blizzard” movement as well as protests from other pro players and casters and on Blizzard’s own California campus as gamers saw Blizzard’s move as one intended to pacify Chinese political and corporate interests. Blizzard ultimately walked back some of the harsher penalties for those involved, though without apologizing to its angry playerbase until BlizzCon many weeks later. Even US politicians condemned Activision-Blizzard for the decision.
We’ve rounded up our complete coverage of the incident and ensuing response from the community, including news articles and our own opinion pieces on the subject.
November 9, 2019: Overwatch’s Jeff Kaplan thinks Blizzard’s Blitzchung punishment was too harsh
November 6, 2019: Vague Patch Notes: Ethics, PR stunts, and the BlizzCon apology
November 6, 2019: BlizzCon protesters remain unmoved by Blizzard apology as industry groups propose unified esports principles
November 5, 2019: Even some Hearthstone devs thought Blizzard overreacted in the Hearthstone fiasco
November 2, 2019: Despite BlizzCon apology, Blizzard stands behind ‘Hong Kong liberation’ suspensions
November 1, 2019: BlizzCon 2019: Here’s Blizzard’s apology for its Hearthstone esports disaster
October 29, 2019: Mitsubishi dropped its Blizzard esports sponsorship following the Hong Kong fiasco
October 25, 2019: Lawful Neutral: What’s China really worth to the Western gaming industry?
October 18, 2019: US politicians chastise Activision-Blizzard for its handling of the Hong Kong fiasco
October 18, 2019: Riot Games expresses ’empathy’ for Blizzard after its Hong Kong fiasco
October 17, 2019: Massively Overthinking: Are you boycotting Blizzard?
October 16, 2019: Blizzard finally decides to ban the college Hearthstone team that called for a Blizzard boycott too
October 16, 2019: WoW Factor: Blizzard’s nonpology and the ethics of boycotting
October 15, 2019: Massively OP Podcast Episode 242: And then Blizzard said, ‘Hold my beer’
October 15, 2019: Overwatch brings back Halloween today but cancels the Nintendo Switch launch event
October 15, 2019: Blizzard solves its ‘one company, two policies’ problem by hiding pro players and canceling an event
October 14, 2019: Not So Massively: The Blizzard I loved is dead
October 14, 2019: BlizzCon protests begin to officially organize in response to the Hong Kong controversy
October 11, 2019: Blizzard finally addresses Hong Kong esports fiasco, reducing bans and reinstating prize money
October 11, 2019: League of Legends tells casters and pro players to avoid ‘sensitive issues’ at the World Champs
October 11, 2019: Blizzard dev says there’s no internal comms over Hong Kong fiasco: ‘It’s pulling our teams apart at the seams’
October 11, 2019: Mark Kern didn’t just quit WoW Classic: He accused his old Firefall studio of Chinese corruption
October 11, 2019: Blizzard won’t punish the US college Hearthstone players who protested in support of Blitzchung – so they quit
October 10, 2019: Analysts fret over Blizzard’s prospects following wildly unpopular ban of Hong Kong Hearthstone esports star
October 9, 2019: Global Chat: The Hearthstone Hong Kongstraversy
October 9, 2019: WoW Factor: The shabby ethics of Blizzard’s ‘Hong Kong liberation’ ban
October 9, 2019: Players, pros, and politicians join in protest over Blizzard’s censorship of Hong Kong Hearthstone pro
October 8, 2019: Blizzard bans Hearthstone esports player and fires casters over pro-Hong Kong protest