This week, Blizzard banned Hearthstone pro Blitzchung and revoked his prize winnings for expressing support for ongoing protests in Hong Kong. The action has resulted in worldwide backlash against the publisher, as fans threaten to boycott Blizzard to protest the Blitzchung ban. It seems many of Blizzard’s own employees are unhappy with the decision too, and have staged a walkout at the company’s Irvine, California office.
The protest took place on Tuesday afternoon, as a number of anonymous employees tell the Daily Beast. “The action Blizzard took against the player was pretty appalling but not surprising,” one employee says. “Blizzard makes a lot of money in China, but now the company is in this awkward position where we can’t abide by our values.”
One employee suggests this is the start of a new era at Blizzard. “Doing business in China, it’s been easier to ignore the authoritarianism of the government because they were asking us to do things like remove a skeleton. The stakes are so much higher now. What was previously an obvious decision is much less obvious now.”
A Reddit post from a person claiming to be a Blizzard employee shows a gathering of people at the orc statue outside the company’s office, holding umbrellas as a visual symbol that has been adopted by protestors in Hong Kong. The paper covering the company’s “think globally” and “every voice matters” slogans, which we heard about yesterday, is visible here.
Others involved with Blizzard have protested in their own way, too. Prominent caster Brian Kibler has announced that he will no longer be involved with the Grandmasters tournament. Collegiate team American university held up a sign saying “free Hong Kong, boycott Blizzard” during another tournament this week, as Rod Breslau reports. Blizzard subsequently canceled further interviews at the event.