It appears that the one thing that United States politicians can agree on is that Blizzard made a mistake in its actions against players who have spoken in support of the ongoing protests in Hong Kong. Some of the most prominent senators and representatives – from both sides of the aisle – have penned a joint letter urging Activision Blizzard chief Bobby Kotick to “reverse course” after it suspended Hearthstone pro Ng Wai Chung, known in-game as Blitzchung.
The letter is signed by Senators Ron Wyden, a Democrat from Florida, and Marco Rubio, a Republican from Florida. It also bears the signatures of Representatives Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a Democrat from New York, Mike Gallagher, a Republican from Wisconsin, and Tom Malinowski, a Democrat from New Jersey.
“We write to express our deep concern about Activision Blizzard’s decision to make player Ng Wai Chung forfeit prize money and ban him from participating in tournaments for a year after he voiced support for pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong,” the full letter (via Makena Kelly on Twitter) reads. “This decision is particularly concerning in light of the Chinese government’s growing appetite for pressuring American businesses to help stifle free speech.”
That information is a bit out of date. Blizzard has reduced Blitzchung’s suspension to six months, and restored his prize winnings. But while Blizzard asserts that “China had no influence” on its original action, critics have remained unconvinced. Some Blizzard employees reportedly even staged a walkout in protest of the company’s action.
“Because your company is such a pillar of the gaming industry, your disappointing decision could have a chilling effect on gamers who seek to use their platform to promote human rights and basic freedoms,” the letter says.
“As China amplifies its campaign of intimidation, you and your company must decide whether to look beyond the bottom line and promote American values – like freedom of speech and thought – or to give into Beijing’s demands in order to preserve market access. We urge you in the strongest terms to reconsider your decision with respect to Mr. Chung. You have the opportunity to reverse course. We urge you to take it.”