The gaming company Blizzard Entertainment still faces a boycott from its western audience that began when it banned a gamer, Ng Wai Chung or “Blitzchung” for supporting Hong Kong protesters on a live gaming stream.
Not only did Blitzchung get banned from Hearthstone tournaments, but after winning a tournament, he was forced to give back his winnings which were $10,000.
Many gamers were outraged at Blizzard’s treatment towards Blitzchung but also felt that the company favoured money and their stakeholder Tencent (a Chinese company with a 4.9 per cent stake in Activistion-Blizzard.)
“It’s really interesting what happened when you really think about it, because it became unusually political,” says Bryan Ortiz, 24, a once-dedicated Blizzard gamer. “It’s very rare where something happens in the gaming world that makes gamers actually have to make a political stance.”
Ortiz, has been playing games made by Blizzard since he was 11, is one of hundreds of thousands of gamers who decided to boycott.
Like many, he was anticipating the release of World of Warcraft Classic, his favourite game in the franchise. But not even this release, which he had been waiting for up to 13 years, could keep him playing after Blitzchung was banned.
Many gamers took to Twitter and Reddit to express their feelings about the company and continue to boycott despite Blizzard issuing an apology and reducing Blitzchung’s ban from 12 months to six months.
Gerrick Johnson, a director at BMO Capital Markets and works with Activision-Blizzard, told CNBC that he has a “stronger conviction that the company’s restructuring efforts and investments in core games like Call of Duty and World of Warcraft will generate an improvement in financial performance.”
This is after he had raised the stock price to $60 per share for the company, expecting results after the company decided to focus on core games, mentioned above, after having an unsuccessful year prior.
According to an article in CBS News, Blizzard’s stock price dropped by four percent after the first week from banning Blitzchung.
The boycott can vary in actions from deleting Blizzard accounts and not playing any games made by them or continuing to play favourite games but not buying any new ones.
Gamers in the west side of the world are continuing to boycott Blizzard until they see changes in the company that leads to a meaningful resolution from banning Blitzchung and infringing on freedom of speech.