The Blizzard of backlash continues

The flurry of worrying news from Activision-Blizzard rages on as Blizzcon approaches. Alex Gervas weighs in on the Hong Kong-troversy

Alex Gervas
1st November 2019
Image: Wikimedia Commons (tofuprod)
As October comes to an end, this year's Blizzcon has everyone expecting some special announcements as well as some controversy.

A few weeks ago Blizzard received massive backlash after banning Hearthstone player ‘Blitzchung’ for six months following his vocal support for Hong Kong’s freedom. The community was outraged with fans starting ‘#boycottblizzard’. The hashtag raised concerns of violence at Blizzcon 2019, causing organisers to consider cancelling the event.

But fans weren’t the only ones concerned by this limitation of free speech and the Chinese government’s influence over American companies. United States legislators, including Marco Rubio and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, issued a statement directed at Blizzard’s CEO. In this letter, the legislators argued that even Blizzard’s employers “believe that Activision Blizzard’s decision to punish Mr Chung runs counter to those values.”

A decision that was made following the cumulative backlash, not least when fans began using Mei, one of the game’s characters, as a symbol for Hong Kong’s protest.

This November, fans will be awaiting Activision Blizzard’s sharing of good news, mainly involving Overwatch 2 and Diablo IV leaks. However, 16 October saw Blizzard cancel the NYC Overwatch launch - a decision that was made following the cumulative backlash, not least when fans began using Mei, one of the game’s characters, as a symbol for Hong Kong’s protest.

Blizzard also announced that Mike Ybarra, former Vice President of Xbox, will be their new Executive Vice President and General Manager starting 4 November. This new addition could mean significant changes in the company’s international marketing strategies.

It looks like even after a drop in their stock of almost 2%, the long term prognostic for Activision Blizzard is still positive. The company can expect to keep growing and increasing their revenue. Somehow, despite these controversies, their competitive presence in the market is stronger than ever.

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