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Blizzard's Weibo Account Just Posted an Apology To China (reddit.com)
382 points by fasthandle on Oct 9, 2019 | hide | past | favorite | 85 comments

Gaming companies have messed up and lost gamers' trust in so many different ways: predatory microtransactions, oodles of crappy DLC, half-finished products being shipped with huge Day 1 patches, etc. But all those were directly related to the industry and could at least be bounced back from if the company removed transactions/made meaningful DLC/improved the state of their games in the future.

How the hell do you bounce back from this? "Oh, sorry, player base, we didn't mean to support a totalitarian regime that slaughtered innocents and suppresses free speech. Have a cool skin!" ... That's exactly how they're going to bounce back, isn't it?

That's exactly how they're going to bounce back from it, it's going to be easy for the game companies, and it's going to work great. Or, more likely, they won't have to bounce back from it at all. The people cancelling their accounts will be back within a month. Gamers will tolerate anything, unless there's a better game that they'd rather play they're not going anywhere.

Disagree - we hurt the sales of Battlefront 2.

And I think there are gamers, like me, who haven't paid money to Blizzard in a while because I don't subscribe to anything Blizzard, but I already own a bunch of games.

What should I do?

I guess you could vote with your wallet by buying from a leading competitor instead. It won't hurt them directly, but market position matters to them. They will probably notice it about as much as one lost sale :(

Boycott Blizzard and tell all your friends to do the same.

I think we both have been, for a while, simply because their games were not for us anymore. The post I responded to was asking what to do when we already don't buy, a boycott won't be felt.

Though anyone planning to boycott would best keep in mind not to forget about anything labelled Activision too.

"Gamers will tolerate anything, unless there's a better game that they'd rather play they're not going anywhere."

How about any reasonable replacement game? I'd say the game industry is pretty well saturated. It's not like there's only one great game per genre, or only one great gaming system.

I don't play modern video games, but I constantly see forum posts where gamers lament that other gamers are doing preorders for game X, because of some fault of the publisher. But these Lamentations are never heard by anyone but the minority that already cares about those things.

So the answer is there is nothing to bounce back from. A bunch of people making a stink about something on message boards is still going to only be a tiny fraction of the overall base. Most gamers just want to play fun games, and will pay their money unless there is direct evidence of the company doing something beyond the pale for all of society.

It's the same reason you don't see more bicycle riding vegans, even though ostensibly many people don't like to see animals mistreated and understand that global warming is happening.

This is in the same vein as some other complaints around China's involvement in the gaming industry. There are calls to separate Chinese players from the rest of a game's population because of rampant cheating and unsportman like conduct. PUBG is the poster child for these calls for separation. The Chinese company TenCent has invested VERY heavily in the games industry (https://www.pcgamer.com/every-game-company-that-tencent-has-...) and continues to bank roll games. Due to the nature of business between Chinese companies and the Chinese government, I don't see this problem going away.

>How the hell do you bounce back from this?

I'm depressingly pessimistic about there being any long or even short-term consequences for this. 5 Years ago? Maybe it would have been harder to ride out. But these days you need not wait long, sometime no longer than a few days, before the next outrage of the moment rears its head. Society has become inured to it, which in turn means organizations like the NBA or Blizzard have become inoculated from the consequences.

I'm not the gamer I once was but I find sticking to Nintendo for family friendly stuff, and know good independent devs has worked for me.

Oh boy, oh boy, oh boy, can I get to pick the skin? Thank you so much...

>"Oh, sorry, player base, we didn't mean to support a totalitarian regime that slaughtered innocents and suppresses free speech. Have a cool skin!"

But what can they do if they are headquartered there?

I mean, it's not like there are plenty of other countries where they can put a headquarters? Countries with lower rent prices, more lenient taxes, less horrible governments, etc.

I know it's not that simple to move a company elsewhere but if you're in an oppressive state and your business is suffering because you have to bow the overlords, maybe it's time to run.

If that's real, that's a surprisingly bad PR move from Blizzard. I understand this was targeted at a Chinese audience (since Weibo) but they must have known this would get back to their English speaking audience almost immediately.

There has to be a better balance then "We will always respect and defend the pride of our country" (even if that is a slight mistranslation).

There is a good chance it was not authorized by HQ and might be some China-specific PR division acting autonomously.

I have a feeling blizzard just wants this problem to go away, otherwise people are going to turn blizzcon 2019 into a shitshow

Redditors are already talking about going in Rockets gear and Winnie the Pooh shirts.

It would probably be more meaningful to cancel registration, and maybe even picket the place wearing that stuff (or at least post photos of wearing that gear on social media announcing they cancelled their registrations for the convention).

The tickets and accommodations are nonrefundable.

Not sure about accommodations, but the tickets are definitely not refundable.

> Tickets to BlizzCon, once purchased, cannot be refunded by the purchaser or exchanged;


Agreed but on the other hand I’m dying to see the “is this an April’s fool joke?” moments during Q&A.

> There is a good chance it was not authorized by HQ and might be some China-specific PR division acting autonomously.

I'm not sure why that should matter.

Either the company immediately disavows the "rogue" statement, or everyone (including employees) will see it as an official statement.

It's actually quite impressive how they have managed to be on an even worse PR trajectory than the out-of-season april fool's joke of last blizzcon

Maybe they should nut up and make it go away?

Seems legit. Weibo verified account with 700k fans/followers. You can check the page at:



> There has to be a better balance then "We will always respect and defend the pride of our country" (even if that is a slight mistranslation).

I'd translate it as: "We will continue to uphold respect towards countries." There's no "pride" or "our" in the original.

I've heard multiple people explain that this is standard phrasing in Chinese to refer to China the country, and not "countries in general."

"Our country" would be "我国". They used "国家", which is the term used for one or multiple countries in general. They could have meant just one country, but it's not what I believe to be the most likely interpretation.

国家 simply means state or nation and in this context national. 国家尊严 means national dignity. In the US you rarely address one's dignity, honor, or national dignity. You talk about US values, democratic values, respect for the constitution, etc. So to properly convey the meaning and intonation to a US audience, you would try to rephrase that term into "respect for the country" or something along those lines.

Most Americans will see this message as intentionally trolling the US and Hong Kong. Politicians are already angry about this regardless of political party. Honestly it is one of the worst responses possible. It has to be a mistake.

No, this is how it works in China. When Tencent has seats the board, it's how it works in the US, too.

What Tencent has never seen before, and what all Chinese companies need a wake-up call to, is punishment for bending over backward to a dickbag government.

US companies are used to weighing what the government wants and what its consumers want and finding a decent footing (to maximally benefit shareholders). Chinese companies just do whatever the party wants. It's bad for everyone except the CCP.

It remains to be seen how much Blizzard will actually suffer for this. How many people will cancel their WoW subscriptions? How many will boycott their next big game. I have doubts that it will be a larger impact than the profits they've made in their ventures in China.

I think they're betting that 13-17 year olds don't care about politics, and there will be plently of Blizzard apologists among older gamers. Western democracies are not very principled these days and people are easily bought. Either way I think gamers can't boycott to save their life.

> gamers can't boycott to save their life

Yep, frankly I'd guess part of the logic here is "Have you seen what EA gets away with? We'll be fine." The further removed the offense is from the purchase, the harder boycotts are to organize. And AAA game boycotts seem tricky to manage even for "this specific game is ripping off its players in these specific ways", so "this company did something shady around a tournament that casual players will never even hear about" is a pretty tough target. Plus, "don't buy" and "don't microtransact" are much easier targets than "don't play WoW/SCII/Hearthstone after you're already invested".

On the other hand, boycotts for any popular product don't tend to have their impact through actual lost income. There's already media focus on the story, and if a boycott influences devs, streamers, modders, etc. then it's not just a question of direct sales losses.

> they're betting that 13-17 year olds don't care about politic

The thing is that they are right, right now all of this mess is mildly entertaining to regular internet news and memes consumer crowd because it is novelty. Twitter of course thrives on fresh scandalous information, especially if it involves big names, big words and gives an illusion of action and major influence - see?! I just reetwtted, I'm doing my part, I'm contributing to fight with great regime! Just go ahead go on streets,I'll tweet for you all!

However the problem is that 'likes' and 'retweets' are mostly meaningless and once novelty aura fades away nobody cares- Venezuela? it is still happening, Syria? still going, Libya? Yemen? what's this? Boo, boooring, man! What's is this all about, stop being such party pooper /s

Indeed - did Blizzard staff post this willingly or was this posted on Blizzard's Weibo account via Weibo staff or even someone else who followed an order? They certainly want to make the Blizzard game fans fall in line thinking Blizzard is aligning with China's tyrants' orders.

If Blizzard has lost control of their official account on Weibo, they should say so through other channels. They could clear this up instantly using their official Twitter account.

They've given no indication they've changed their mind on this matter, so it seems kind of premature to assume someone else has taken control over their account. The Weibo statement is consistent with their public position.

If they want to show fans that their stance on this matter has changed, they should unban Blitzchung, give him back his prize money, and rehire the interviewers they fired.

The motive wouldn't make any sense. Why would the CCP go out of its way to save face for an American company that offended it?

Yes it does make sense.

An American company didn't offend them. An American company "bent their knee" (as people are saying) and ban a user who showed support of the Hong Kong protests, fired the two commentators, and rescinded the prize money the gamer won.

CCP wants people to believe they have "power" - control, and that "all" will "bend their knee" for them. We don't know if Blizzard posting an "apology for offending 'China'" for the actions of a user was from anyone in a decision chain at Blizzard - from the very top or if it was ordered or perhaps "requested" under pressure.

Is there any recorded instance of Weibo stuff forcefully posting on behalf of an account?

I really hate this but it's our everyday life to see actor or singer we love they need to apology to China on their social media almost every month.

These stars from Taiwan who have PRs in China, their Weibo wall may have post they do not agree automatically. That's because these PRs in China work so hard to doing their damage control job before everything goes wrong. I think years before, this may worked in China.

But something changed recently. There are too many "internet red guards" in China. They want to use the same criteria to censor whole world by VPN the great wall. Once "internet red guards" target a company or star, they will dig everything they don't like(maybe 5 years ago!!) and post inside the wall. Then they encourage everyone in China boycott it. After that, government have excuse to suspend someones business. That's why Morey's twit cause NBA so much.

And I don't think situation like this that Weibo post of Blizzard will do any help once Blizzard they need to apology to people outside of china. But we don't see Blizzard have any announcement to us yet. I think this PR post or discussion inside great wall is a clever move that control Blizzard international. They want Blizzard to say nothing or it will cause them more damage in China.

for our everyday life reference: https://www.nytimes.com/2016/01/17/world/asia/taiwan-china-s...

They had to apologize to SOMEBODY, and they chose Chinese censors. The bad publicity is incredible so far, there are 5 top stories on reddit at the moment

Anyone know if a shit storm is also on the chinese side?

> Anyone know if a shit storm is also on the chinese side?

I don't trust any of these reports about Chinese social media being outraged about these actions by Westerners or Western companies -- it's controlled too tightly by the Chinese government. I could see any of the following being true about any of these recent controversies:

1. The outrage is fully manufactured by the government-paid 50-cent party posters (see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/50_Cent_Party).

2. Normal Chinese social media users are genuinely outraged, but only because the 50-cent party got the ball rolling.

3. The outrage is genuine, widespread, and organic.

4. The outrage is genuine and organic, but not widespread. It's just basement dwellers and the like, and most regular Chinese people don't care or don't care much.

5. The outrage is genuine and organic, but not widespread, but is also getting amplified and promoted by the authorities through algorithmic ranking.

6. etc.

Honestly, IMHO only #3 deserves any response from Western companies and coverage in Western media as popular opinion. The rest should be either ignored or reported on as a propaganda campaign.

I doubt that a Chinese citizen is willing to risk imprisonment or a dent in their social credit score for this.

There could be a shitstorm of the other side, i.e. "how could blizzard have streamer defend the rioter in Hong Kong, this is an outrage!" I guess this kind of complaints would improve the citizen social credit

Original post on Hearthstone weibo account: https://www.weibo.com/3229779100/Iax22g4xQ

similar post on the Blizzard account: https://www.weibo.com/5883095259/Iax1avYRU

Which links here: https://playhearthstone.com/en-us/blog/23179289

EDITED: to add hearthstone account link.

I would feel a lot better about companies talking out of both sides of their mouths here if what they said in English wasn't already so compromised. Firing the broadcasters and banning the player shows which side of their mouth Blizzard is speaking truth out of, I think.

I might be missing what you are saying but they are not talking out of both sides of their mouth, they apologized to China, not to the public.

Seems pretty conflicted with their "think globally" core value. Maybe they should update that one to "divide and conquer."

When I did customer service at Blizzard Europe back around 2010 one of my immediate colleagues who could speak Chinese and English was involved in the re-launch of WoW in China.

They explained that non-Chinese companies were not allowed to operate in China. What Blizzard had done was essentially a partnership, but legally they gave rights to a Chinese company to operate/use their IP in China.

I suspect this is the same here, this is a Chinese company with a right from Blizzard to use their IP, but isn’t actually Blizzard itself.

Blizzard probably can’t control what this Chinese company does in China except probably for terminating their license to use their Hearthstone IP, and even then I wouldn’t be surprised if that’s legally challenging.

> They explained that non-Chinese companies were not allowed to operate in China.

I still find it fascinating how no-one was screaming "trade war!" at such terms. Yet respond to them with a few tariffs..

In China, nobody's allowed to complain about mercantilist policies.

In the US, nobody noticed until the US government started employing stronger mercantilist policies, then started complaining about it at home because they don't like that their own government is employing such policies.

That's probably why.

It's worth noting that punitive tariffs, in the end, are taxes on businesses in your own country, because it just raises the price of US businesses doing business (and often gets passed on to consumers, when demand for the product is strong enough to pass the cost on to consumers; otherwise, businesses just suffer and have to start cutting costs in other areas, such as by laying off workers).

Mercantilist policies hurt the local economy as much as they hurt foreign economies. Every act escalating a trade war hurts both sides.

> That's probably why.

Pretty much the entire media participated in the narrative that it was Trump that started the trade war - both in the US, and here in Europe. That's what I was referring to, not Chinese media.

> Mercantilist policies hurt the local economy as much as they hurt foreign economies.

So economists keep repeating. Yet China doesn't seem to have been hurt by their mercantilism. Because yes, in the short term, tariffs hurt, but they let local industry develop without being crushed by foreign competition. In fact, " ... none of the world's most successful trading regions, including Japan, Korea, Taiwan, and now mainland China, reached their current status by adopting neoliberal trading rules." [1]. But economic consensus remains untainted by contact with reality.

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Comparative_advantage#Criticis...

> but legally they gave rights to a Chinese company to operate/use their IP in China

Probably why there's a very blatant Chinese Overwatch ripoff game that Blizzard hasn't gone after.

I cannot wait for the backlash at Blizzcon.

You can wait and wait, their target consumer doesnt care about anything else than slight injection of dopamine.

Big corporations doing big business in market too big to be ignored...

Still, I think they should grow some balls.

Acting like this now mean it will be worse in the future.

See my other comment, but my suspicion is that Blizzard itself is not making these decisions, but rather it’s the Chinese company that has licensed Blizzard’s IP for use in China.

However, even if my theory is correct, I suppose one could argue that Blizzard is complicit by choosing profits over terminating the business arrangement, but, maybe that’s legally challenging.

I don’t know the real story, but I think the situation is a lot more complicated than it appears.

if you can pay them back the revenue they would lost from Chinese market, they can do whatever you ask them to do

I'm trying to think of ways to stop this, but I can't think of any good way.

1) I simply don't think it's feasible to expect that companies themselves will band together and say "we won't accede to such demands."

2) Countries like the US that have better free speech protection could pass laws requiring US companies to comply with the freedom granted in the US. So a company could not impose punitive measures on a user, or self censor, for something legal within the US. But then I think of all of the varieties of harassment & hate speech that could get through.

If such a law would be made, US companies would be effectively required to isolate their US user base from the rest of the world. Things that can legally be said in the US can easily be illegal in other countries that value free speech. EU countries tend to take a fimer stance on personal attacks, for example.

See my other thread, but to summarise, I don’t think this is Blizzard, but actually a Chinese company with a license from Blizzard to operate their IP within China.

I think that actual Blizard has no control here and the situation is a lot more complex than is immediately apparent.

3) Continue to tarrif economic relations with China, or even cut them off entirely.

4) Individuals signal to companies, via their spending habits, what they won't put up with.

#2 would be a violation of freedom of association.

Absolutely shameful. Blizzard is chasing the dollars, or should I say the yuan, and turning their backs on customers, players, and ultimately human rights.

Most of the world is doing the same unfortunately and I dont see anyone screaming about that.

Yes, its that bad and people think mostly about themselves. If something does not impact you directly it does not exist.

It might be time for democratic countries to consider not trading with China. China is totalitarian and marxist and is therefore incompatible with democratic values. But still democratic governments and corporations aim to trade with China because it's a massive market and there's plenty of money to be made.

The Australian Prime Minister is between a rock and a hard place. On the one hand, China is our major trade partner. On the other hand, America is our ally and also a major trade partner. So Morrison has to dance with each.

Blizzard, I read, have significant investment from China, and China are a massive market for them. So they self-censor in order to stay in China's good graces.

I don't see how corporations and countries can do business in China, without compromising their values and possibly stepping on the values of citizens/customers in democratic countries.

Thing is China already got rich by trading with rest of the world. Their middle class amounts to like 50% of total population.

The way China spends that money is very smart - they will be self sustained soon by buying up Africa.

They dont care about rest of the world, they dont have to. Soon not USA but China will be the biggest imperium on Earth.

Thats how more or less cards look like now.

I.. I'm not even sure.. Why? Do the employees just want to increase the fire now?

Blizzard you had a choice to make, you could of been the gaming company leading the charge in freedom and human rights, (you have enough fucking oney tbh) But no you decided to make just a little more money instead of becomeing the coolest fucking gaming company to ever exist. Blizz if you supported BlitzChung, i guarantee your sales would of went up waaaaaaaay more then the entire chinese market is worth u shit for brains. There is more in the world supporting democracy then not supporting it. Blizzard you guys suck i would FIRE whoever made those decisions to ban him.

Goodbye Diablos, Overwatch and WoW.

NBA did the same thing.

Their Chinese statement was way more apologetic than the English one.


While the NBA's Chinese statement denounces what was said, it also affirms their commitment to freedom of speech. The NBA stance and the Blizzard stance are very different. Blizzard seems to show zero backbone and zero support for free speech.

There are a lot of pandering people in the games industry. Take riot games for example with the recent fiasco they've been involved with.

The translation is soft, literally it should be:

>... are filled with indignation and strongly condemn it, also absolutely object to ...

What's blizzard? Can't tell from the post.

The video game company who made WoW, Starcraft, Overwatch, Hearthstone, etc.

They recently banned a player and revoked his winnings for speaking out in support of the Hong Kong protests.


Ah, thanks for the context.

Blizzard is an old and famous game development company. Released big titles, such as World of Warcraft, Diablo, StarCraft, Warcraft, and the game that is causing the controversy: Hearthstone.

Overwatch too

Poor Dairy Queen PR people trying to figure out the reason for the sudden influx of hate.

This could be a good opportunity for them. "Come in and get a Blizzard that won't punish you for your personal political opinions!"

It’s the first result on google. In fact it’s not even a result it has its own special box below the search bar.

There's been several front page news articles on HN about this. A handy guide.

The original issue:

"Blizzard Suspends Professional Hearthstone Player for Hong Kong Comments"


Follow ups:

"Fallout from Blizzard Hong Kong Incident"


"Gamers propose punishing Blizzard by flooding it with GDPR requests"


"After Hearthstone player’s ban, Blizzard is in hot water with lawmakers"


"Overwatch's Mei Is Becoming a Symbol of the Hong Kong Resistance"


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