Fortnite studio Epic Games has announced that it won’t ban players or content creators for expressing their views over political or human rights topics. The developer has made a statement to The Verge this week, which follows World of Warcraft studio Blizzard’s decision to issue a year-long ban to Hearthstone pro Blitzchung and revoke his prize winnings for expressing support for ongoing protests in Hong Kong.
The statement (via GamesIndustry) says that “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.”
Similarly, Tim Sweeney – CEO of Epic Games – has said on Twitter that “Epic supports the rights of Fortnite players and creators to speak about politics and human rights.” Subsequently in the thread, a user has asked Sweeney to clarify if, hypothetically, if a Fortnite streamer such as Turner ‘Tfue’ Tenney were to say “Free Hong Kong” in a “post-game interview,” that Epic “wouldn’t do anything.” Sweeney replied, “Exactly.”
Further to this, another user has asked Sweeney whether he can “say if a similar event happened you wouldn’t have to sever ties with said influential figure,” raising a point about Tencent’s stake in Epic Games. Sweeney has responded, “Yes, absolutely. That will never happen on my watch as the founder, CEO, and controlling shareholder.”
There has been a widespread backlash against Blizzard following the event, which has seen Blizzard employees stage a walkout and fans threatening to boycott the studio. There has also been a ‘BoycottBlizzard’ hashtag circulating on Twitter.