Gaming publisher Blizzard had to have known that their show of support for the George Floyd protests wasn’t going to go over well. But they did it anyway, and boy did gamers let them have it.
Blizzard has a checkered past when it comes to politically-charged controversies, and critics were quick to label the company’s support for Black Lives Matter an exercise in hypocrisy.
This all dates back to September 2019, when Blizzard hit the headlines over the controversial ban of Ng Wai “blitzchung” Chung, a professional Hearthstone player.
During a live-streamed interview at the 2019 Hearthstone Grandmasters, blitzchung – clad in the Hong Kong protest movement’s symbolic face mask – voiced his support for the public demonstrations against laws permitting the extradition of citizens to mainland China.
Blizzard booted blitzchung from the competition, banned him for 12 months, and confiscated his earnings due to violations of the competition rules, which forbid political discourse.
Nine months later, riding a wave of similar shows of support from other gaming companies, Blizzard expressed their support for the ongoing Black Lives Matter protests with a message posted to Twitter.
Many gamers were quick to highlight the perceived contradiction of Blizzard’s stance.
They torched the publisher for cashing in on free publicity and falling in line with numerous other gaming companies who’ve voiced similar support:
It’s just companies cashing in for free publicity at this point.
That’s literally all it is. No corporation gives a f*ck. Never did. To them this is a free PR boost. This is a good thing.
If you believe any of these companies give a sh*t then you’re just naive. This is PR, nothing else.
At this point, any company who doesn’t come out with a black lives matter statement gets vilified. You really think these mega corps care? They’re just using all this as a press op. Just like trumpy and his bible
Critics point to what they perceive as a disconnect between silencing support for the Hong Kong protests yet supporting the movement in the U.S.
Supporting BLM isn’t going to be a huge blow to profits, unlike getting their products banned in China for supporting the protestors would. A corporation only speaks one language and knows one god, money.
We support you as long as it’s the popular movement in your country and won’t offend China.
You may have noticed similar behavior from other Chinese companies that were silent or openly hostile to Hong Kong suddenly becoming SJWs as it relates to the current upheaval in the US.
This has nothing to do with human rights from a government perspective and everything to do with a global game of strategic positioning. And the corporations are largely subservient to the governments as their cooperation is essential to maintaining access to the markets they draw so much profit from.
Others stepped in to defend Blizzard, arguing that the company has taken on board the lessons from the blitzchung controversy.
Blizzard proper did not handle it well, but it is disingenuous to act like blizzard us banned some random player for protesting. It’s also hypocritical to act as if companies can’t change how they present themselves. If you feel this is true, then the police and society will never change so what is the point of protesting?
To me this is an example of how blizzard us realized blizzard China did something that was harsh and fixed the issue to the satisfaction of the person banned yet everyone still wants to act as if there is a problem. How the hell are we going to get better as a society if we keep looking at the past mistakes???
What’s the point of trying to change anything if we are just going to act as if it don’t matter???
Now I know that they are being hypocrites, but surely we shouldn’t criticize them for their current statement? Like does being dumb once mean you should always be dumb and never be not dumb otherwise you misrepresent yourself as dumb and must be turbo dumb?
I’m gonna play devils advocate, and probably get downvoted like crazy, but this is a great example of how people on the internet seem to think its impossible for a company or celebrity to learn from its mistakes. Just because they are being supportive now doesnt mean they are faking it and/or cashing in on the situation. It can actually mean they learned from their mistakes last time, and they’ve changed.
The opposing takes continue to hash it out.
Is this corporate greed capitalizing on the situation to redress the publisher’s deflated PR standing? Or is it a genuinely-concerted effort to correct course after the blitzchung debacle?
Whatever side of the fence one falls on, there’s a sense that Blizzard could do more to qualify this newfound penchant for political activism.
As has become a common refrain in the past few days, simple support is no longer sufficient.
Meaningful action such as tapping into its bountiful coffers to support the movement would do wonders to allay concerns that Blizzard is merely angling for PR brownie points.
Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect the views of CCN.com.