In light of Hearthstone professional player Ng Wai Chung's (aka blitzchung) ban after pro-Hong Kong statements, a bipartisan group of United States senators sent a strongly worded letter directly to Activision Blizzard CEO Bobby Kotick.
This joint letter, penned by senators Ron Wyden (D), Marco Rubio (R), Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D), Mike Gallagher (R), and Tom Malinowski (D), raise concerns over Activision Blizzard's decision to ban blitzchung, even after lessening the initial punishment. In this letter, the group of senators say "This decision is particularly concerning in light of the Chinese government's growing appetite for pressuring American businesses to help stifle free speech." The letter references recent issues with Apple and the National Basketball Association (NBA).
The letter continues: "Your company claims to stand by 'one's right to express individual thoughts and opinions,' yet many of your own employees believe that Activision Blizzard's decision to punish Mr. Chung runs counter to those values." The letter ends by urging Kotiock to reconsider the decision to ban blitzchung.
Last week, Blizzard decided to lessen blitzchung's ban from one year down to six months, as well as letting him receive his prize money after all. Still, he is banned currently and cannot play professionally for the next six months. They also removed the punishment of dropping him from the Hearthstone grandmaster league.
This letter does not mention the recent ban of several students from the American University, who also expressed pro-Hong Kong statements during a college tournament. The team held up a sign that said "Free Hong Kong Boycott Blizz" sign during their post-match interview. Although blitzchung's ban spawned a wave of boycotts and separate protests, it's is peculiar to see the letter not mentioning the American University team, although one can speculate it's because the senators simply did not know of this issue, or just the amount of time it took to arrange a bipartisan statement that everyone agreed to.
Going into BlizzCon starting on November 1st, 2019, many expect protests due to Activision Blizzard's recent actions. Stay tuned for updates!
What are your thoughts on the senators' letter (found here)? Let us know in the comments below!