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Backlash Over Barring Player Hits Big Game Maker

Activision Blizzard accounts are canceled over action against Hong Kong supporter
By Bob Cronin,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 11, 2019 2:27 PM CDT
Players try out the latest "World of Warcraft" video game last year in Germany.   (AP Photo/Martin Meissner)

(Newser) – Video game maker Activision Blizzard is paying for barring a Hong Kong player who shouted support for the pro-democracy demonstrators last weekend. Gamers are calling for a boycott, the company is taking a beating on social media, and the stock price is down almost 4% this week, CBS News reports. The backlash began after Blizzard barred Ng Wai Chung from the Hearthstone Grandmaster card game for a year after he hollered, "Liberate Hong Kong, revolution of our times" during an interview with Taiwanese online video game show hosts. Blizzard also seized his $10,000 tournament earnings. Players began canceling their accounts, or trying to: The players instead received a "too many attempts" message, which the company said it's trying to fix.

Like the NBA, Apple and other companies, Blizzard is confronting the cost and backlash over trying not to displease China's government. Estimates are that 5% to 10% of Blizzard's revenue comes from China, and a Chinese company owns nearly 5% of Blizzard. One analyst wrote that Blizzard had no good options in this dispute. Players are posting that they're leaving the maker of the Worlds of Warcraft and Call of Duty games, though it's painful. One player said it's the end for him after 15 years of playing Blizzard video games. The company has issued no comment about the issue, and Paul Tassi points out in Forbes that this could make for an awkward BlizzCon next month. Star player Brian Kibler has announced he won't be involved. (South Park, on the other hand, stepped into the China debate intentionally.)

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