BlizzCon 2019 Protest "Full-Steam Ahead," Say Organizers
"Blizzard continues to punish these individuals despite widespread outrage."
In the wake of Blizzard's high-profile punitive action against a professional Hearthstone player, a protest at BlizzCon is moving forward as planned, according to its organizers. In a statement to GameSpot, organizer Dayton Young said that while the company's reduction of Blitzchung's penalty was "a small step in the right direction," its decisions still deserve censure from the community.
Young cited Blizzard's punishment of Blitzchung, as well as the event casters and the American University students who protested in solidarity.
"That Blizzard has shown a willingness to re-evaluate their decision is a small step in the right direction, but make no mistake; Blizzard continues to punish these individuals despite widespread outrage from gamers around the world," Young said.
"We understand that game publishers and developers have a responsibility to moderate the content that appears on their platforms to ensure that gamers are safe from harassment, threats of violence, and other dangerous behavior. But silencing gamers who speak up about issues that affect their freedom makes us all less safe from oppression and institutional abuse."
For that reason, Young said the protest plans are "moving forward full-steam ahead." The demonstration is scheduled for November 1, the first day of BlizzCon, at 12 PM. It will take place outside the Anaheim Convention Center venue.
Blizzard initially sparked a firestorm of controversy when it punished professional Hearthstone player Ng Wai Chung aka Blitzchung after he spoke out in support of Hong Kong protests in a post-match interview. This led to calls for a boycott of Blizzard products and the announcement of a planned BlizzCon protest. The company partially rescinded its punishment, giving back Chung's monetary winnings and reducing his ban from one year to six months. It also reduced its punishment for the event casters, and gave a matching punishment to the AU students--who made a point of criticizing Blizzard for failing to give equal punishment for the same offense.
That didn't appear to quell the controversy entirely, however. Blizzard abruptly cancelled an Overwatch launch event in NYC, and while it didn't state its reasons, the ongoing backlash appeared related. The company is now reportedly banning users in its Twitch chat who express support for Hong Kong. Most recently a group of five members of the US Congress wrote a joint letter to Activision CEO Bobby Kotick urging the company to reconsider.
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