The CEO of Hi-Rez Studios has joined Epic Games' CEO Tim Sweeney in expressing their support for free speech in light of the Blizzard Hong Kong situation.
If you've somehow missed what's going on, here's a quick primer: a Hong Kong-based Hearthstone player recently stated support for his home during a post-match interview. His statement resulted in Blizzard Entertainment revoking his earned winnings, booting him out of the tournament, and terminating their contracts with both of the casters who were on air with him. Understandably, many people are unhappy about what they view as an extreme reaction on Blizzard's part.
Epic Games' CEO Tim Sweeney took a moment to chime in on the matter in response to a question on Twitter.
"I'm more interested what [Tim Sweeney] has to say," said @TCatspider on Twitter. "His company is 40% owned by Tencent after all."
"Epic supports the rights of Fortnite players and creators to speak about politics and human rights," Mr. Sweeney responded. This led to a few more follow up questions on Twitter, some of which Mr. Sweeney responded to.
"I thought your company had a majority investor from the Chinese?" inquired @CherrishChoerry. "Surely it would just end up in a similar situation, Investor pulls out, big chunk of cashflow? It’s not the right decision to make but I’m sure it puts any company on the edge[.]"
"Epic is a US company and I’m the controlling shareholder," Tim replied. "Tencent is an approximately 40% shareholder, and there are many other shareholders including employees and investors."
"40% is a big cut though," @CherrishChoerry added. "They’re already apparently pulling out of the NBA League. Can you honestly say if a similar event happened you wouldn’t have to, sever ties with said influential figure, i.e the NBA coach/Hearthstone Champ[?]"
"Yes, absolutely," Mr. Sweeney asserted. "That will never happen on my watch as the founder, CEO, and controlling shareholder."
Hi-Rez Studios Speaks Up For Free Speech
Mr. Sweeney's statements apparently inspired his competition to join hands on the matter, with Hi-Rez Studios CEO Stewart Chisam electing to chime in on the matter.
"Great leadership as always from Tim," Mr. Chisam said on Twitter. "Hi-Rez as well will continue to support our players’, creators’ and employees’ right to be politically active."
While Blizzard is remaining radio silent on the Hong Kong situation, the competition seems all too happy to step up and speak out for player's freedom. Here's hoping that other big game developers will also speak out on the matter.
What do you think of Hi-Rez Studios and Epic Games' CEOs speaking out in support of players' ability to politically express themselves? Do you think Blizzard will reverse their decision? Let us know in the comments below!