A bipartisan Senate and House MP signed a letter expressing "deep concern" over the recent decision by Activision Blizzard to punish Ng "Blitzchung" Wai Chung after pro Hearthstone expressed my support for continued week. "This decision is particularly concerned in light of the Chinese government's growing appetite for pressuring US businesses to help stifle free speech," the letter said in part.
Initially, Blizzard banned a Hong Kong-based player for one year and kept his prize money after he said, "Release Hong Kong, the revolution of our era!" in Chinese during the live event. This sentence was later reduced to a six-month suspension and Chung's money restored.
But the letter addressed to Activision Blizzard CEO Bobby Kotick urges Blizzard "under the strongest possible conditions to reconsider your decision regarding Mr. Chung. You have the opportunity to reverse the course. We urge you to take it." [1
Elsewhere in the letter, lawmakers cite a staff walk in protest of Blizzard's decision and calls. about company boycotts among "gamers around the world" as additional reasons for Blizzard to turn around. The letter also cites similar decisions by Apple and the NBA to suspend applications and publicly discuss protests in Hong Kong under Chinese pressure (decisions that in turn draft their own congressional letters).
"Because your company is such a pillar of the gaming industry, your frustrating decision can have a chilling effect on gamers seeking to use their platform to promote human rights and fundamental freedoms," the letter said. as China intensifies its campaign of intimidation, you and your company must decide whether to look beyond the bottom line and promote American values - such as freedom of speech and thought – or succumb to Beijing's demands in order to maintain market access pa. "
The letter comes after Blizzard canceled a recent public event promoting the release of Switch Overwatch and the company's planned protests during the BlizzCon fan gathering in November. Blizzard was also forced to punish College Hearthstone team this week for flashing a sign in support of Hong Kong protests during a live game.
The gaming industry as a whole is separately confronted with the congressional pressure to sell in-game items through randomized loot boxes. A bipartisan group of senators introduced deliberate legislation to ban the practice, and the FTC continued to consider it after the pressure of Senator Maggie Hassan (D-N.H.)