Activision Blizzard (ATVI.Q) releases two high profile games, in Diablo 4 and Overwatch 2, shrugging their shoulders at the Hong Kong e-sports controversy.
The controversy surrounds Blizzard’s latest political hedge in banning Hearthstone player Ng “Blizchung” Wai Chung for supporting Hong Kong protesters during a competition livestream last month. Naturally, Blizzard, a company not particularly interested in biting the hands that feeds them, didn’t want to get on China’s bad side. Because the first one went so well, the company extended their ideological banning to three college students and temporary suspensions for multiple people in a Twitch chat.
Here’s a non-denial denial from J. Allen Brack, president of Blizzard.
“The specific views expressed by blitzchung were not a factor in the decision we made. I want to be clear: our relationships in China had no influence on our decision. We have these rules to keep the focus on the game and on the tournament to the benefit of a global audience, and that was the only consideration in the actions we took. If this had been the opposing viewpoint delivered in the same divisive and deliberate way, we would have felt and acted the same.”
You can go on Twitch almost every night of the week and hear someone disparaging Justin Trudeau or Donald Trump, and nobody bats an eyelash. But that’s the difference between a democracy and whatever it is China is: we poke fun at our leadership and the most we’ll get is some asshole on twitter calling us names, but if you do that in China, you lose points off your social credit score and can no longer get dates, and the state comes and takes your dog away.
The protests are still going on, naturally.
Dozens of protesters appeared outside of BlizzCon, Activision Blizzard’s annual convention, today, to protest the company’s decision to punish players for having opinions that don’t jive with political orthodoxy during a livestream. They came carrying signs with messages like “Free Hong Kong,” “Shame on Blizzard” and several wore Winnie the Pooh costumes, which were banned in China because someone pointed out that the character looks an awful lot like President Xi Jinping.
The company decided to address the protests from inside the location. This time, Brack apologized for the way the company boggled this controversy”
“We moved too quickly in our decision and then to make matters worse, we were too slow to talk with all of you,” Brack said at the event. “I am sorry and I accept accountability.”
Yeah. Accept accountability. Get on your hands and knees and—wait: what do you mean nothing’s happened?
The company’s stock price has actually risen despite the controversy. They’re down today by $0.21, closing at $55.82, but can we really point a finger at such a small drop and say the protesters are the cause? Why not? Your guess in this case is as good as mine.
But since we’re getting all speculative, here’s why the company is probably up over the long term.
It’s probably because most of the people buying the games are either from China, or don’t give a shit about your politics.
—Joseph MortonDisclaimer: ALWAYS DO YOUR OWN RESEARCH and consult with a licensed investment professional before making an investment. This communication should not be used as a basis for making any investment.
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