Hacker News new | past | comments | ask | show | jobs | submit login
BlizzCon 2019 Protest “Full-Steam Ahead,” Say Organizers (gamespot.com)
419 points by partingshots 29 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 177 comments



IMO, Blizzards actions have been borderline incompetent.

I completely understand them not wanting their platform to be used to make political statements. This isn't like the NBA situation where Morey used a private social media account to show support for his private political opiniona. This was a platform owned by Blizzard with a very specific content focus.

But banning Blitzchung for any amount of time was just dumb. They have the right to respond that way, but it's still a dumb response.

They should have made a public statement following the incident that went something like this:

"We encourage players and community members to express themselves. However, our tournament coverage is a platform for Blizzard e-sports content only. Any future use of the platform to express personal political opinions on sensitive subject matter without Blizzard's express conscent will be met with punative action."

Follow that up with a description of what that punative action would look like.

I can't imagine any backlash to that. Many people would be unhappy, but I doubt there would be protests or letters from congress.

Blizzard made a mistake and they are refusing to learn from it. Now they get to deal with the fallout.


I understand your point; but I don't think Blizzard actions would had been this strong on any other similar situation (Say, Blitzchung supporting the Catalonian separatists).

All evidence seems to indicate Blizzard acted this way because China.


Blizzard could have kicked him out of the tournament and said "don't use our platform for controversy" and probably nothing would have happened. Instead they stripped him of his winnings, banned him for a year, and then release two public statements one in English that was bad enough, and another in Chinese that absolutely prostrated themselves before the Mainland government. It was pathetic.


> Blizzard could have kicked him out of the tournament

The tournament was over tho?


Blizzard has since reinstated his winnings and reduced the ban to 6 months.

> Blizzard originally banned the Hong Kong-based player for a year and withheld his prize money after he said "Liberate Hong Kong, revolution of our age!" in Chinese during the livestreamed event. That penalty was later reduced to a six-month suspension, and Chung's prize money was reinstated

Second paragraph in https://arstechnica.com/gaming/2019/10/us-legislators-urge-b...


Yeah, after they were raked over the coals by everyone from their own fans to the US Congress. Perhaps a bit too late.


I was not making any commentary on Blizzard, I was just pointing out that they had backtracked, to an extent from what the GP was posting.

Personally, I disagree with Blizzard's stance, but it should be noted that they partially backtracked. They're letting him keep the prize money, and down to a 6 month suspension from 12 months.

Blizzard's terms about not causing offense are so broad that one could hardly wish someone a good morning without risking offending someone.

To reiterate: I am not defending Blizzard, just pointing out they had a partial mea culpa.


Blizzard is apparently giving out 24 hour band for talking about hk in hearthstone streams too. I don’t think anyone really doubts it’s to appease China


I think it still would have been met with backlash because Blizzard previously hopped on the sociopolitical issue bandwagon when they thought it would win them public points [1]. A lot of people see the current situation as transparent bullshit because Blizzard obviously wants to have its cake and eat it, too.

[1] https://www.gameskinny.com/as926/blizzard-entertainment-says...


Perhaps people will now realize corporations only act woke to the extent it is to their benefit, and not a millimeter further. Profit consumes all. Corporations will never choose morality.


CVS stopped selling cigarettes and lost $2B revenue per year. After a few years, their stock is up. Is that seeking profit or doing what's right? Why does public good and public profit always have to be opposed? If being "woke" is profitable, we shouldn't discourage the good just because of potential profits. That would be like boycotting the Prius because Toyota is trying to make money off environmental concerns...


There are a few decent case studies around this move, and I still find it fascinating. They can say they did it for their values, but immediate revenue loss for values doesn't happen all that often. If it were truly for values, I'd expect alcohol to be removed from shelves as well.

In the early 2000's, CVS started treating patients at their MinuteClinics in the pharmacy. It became directly comparable to an actual doctors office, where cigarettes haven't been sold since the 1950's.

Anecdotally, and ironically, most of the people that are aware CVS made this move are inconvenienced smokers. I'd expect a huge continued marketing campaign around this endeavor in the US, but it hasn't been as strong as many other less impressive campaigns.


>If it were truly for values, I'd expect alcohol to be removed from shelves as well.

Not sure why everything has to be black and white. An individual or corporation can hold values that are against smoking but ok with alcohol.

Picking one and not the other does not invalidate the value.

>Anecdotally, and ironically, most of the people that are aware CVS made this move are inconvenienced smokers. I'd expect a huge continued marketing campaign around this endeavor in the US, but it hasn't been as strong as many other less impressive campaigns.

This is not surprising or ironic if the action was based more on ethics and less on PR/ virtue signaling.


Is ending the sale of tobacco really that similar as ending the sale of alcohol in terms of values? What shared values do you see in ending the sale of both of these products?


they sell alcohol at CVS?


Most pharmacies in the US sell beer/wine. I don't think that is the case for hard liquor, though.


RiteAid sells hard liquor in Washington state.


I guess it makes sense it would be legal in states where the sale of hard liquor is allowed in places outside of dedicated liquor stores (and WA is one of them), I've just never really noticed it (never been to RiteAid in WA, though, only to Bartells/CVS/Walgreens). Thanks for the correction.


Wait, how did CSV help anything? People aren't going to stop buying cigarettes. They're addictive. People will just start paying double from a gas station.


If we all waited until we could universally eliminate an unethical behavior before we stopped participating in it ourselves, the behavior would never die.

CVS has chosen to stop contributing to a problem, and the behavior of other businesses has no bearing on whether they did the right thing.


Actually there is evidence to the contrary - Cigarette sales fell in the entire state where CVS had a significant market-share, and anti-smoking patch sales increased by 4% in the months following (src: https://www.forbes.com/sites/brucejapsen/2017/02/20/after-cv...)

Granted, it's hard to really know anything, but I'm not entirely sure what you're saying is true. There was probably at least a few people who just said screw it and stopped buying cigarettes because they wanted to quit and needed an impulse. Since their sales actually increased in the years following, and typically cigarettes have ancillary sales, I think at -least- a few people quit due to this move.


There's a large contingent of people who don't want corporations at Pride. But there's also the reasonable view that 'woke for the money' corporations are still better than not woke corporations. It's challenging to work through what's best, especially when the employees of a business might hold stronger views than their employer.


There's also "woke for the talent", which in the current skill economy is non-negligible.

If you're having a hard time finding international software developers to work for you because you're sponsoring US border militias (to use a ridiculous example), then you're materially hurting your bottom line via political speech.

And while that's an example of active speech, there are similar examples of lack-of-speech. E.g. employees at cloud companies disagreeing with neutrality regarding ICE contracts.

It's sad that only a relatively small subset of labor has this much bargaining ability, but it does seem healthy in making companies responsive to popular (for some definition) demands.


It's also strange that devs have so much leverage and don't immediately try to unionize to lock in that leverage. I bet most software devs make a fraction of what they earn for their company. A significant fraction, but a fraction just the same. I'm surprised that given how desirable the skill set is they are willing to leave that money on the table.


It's almost like they're anti-social or something.


On the other hand, ICE contracts scaring away open borders job-hunters means less trouble with unionization efforts in the future.


And, unfortunately, it has been deemed more profitable historically to subscribe cynically to the bigoted aspects of conservatism. Whether it's truly more profitable or not is up for discussion, but fear of Middle American backlash has stayed the hands of a good many companies who would have like to have been able to market to marginalized groups. I think it's good that they've shed that fear, even if only in the interest of profit. You make it sound like it's a bad thing that we opened lunch counters or run ads with openly gay or mixed couples; that we stopped letting backwards taboos throw a wrench in our markets.


No, it isn't a bad thing. But organizations shouldn't be lauded for meeting the minimum basic standards of not being terrible.


Not to diminish your point, but to add an additional possibility, I imagine the pro LGBT stance may have been singular or small groups of employees inside Blizzard sounding off inside a corporation with different values.


>Blizzard made a mistake and they are refusing to learn from it.

That's the standard Blizzard MO in everything from business decisions to gameplay patches in all their games.


> "We encourage players and community members to express themselves. However, our tournament coverage is a platform for Blizzard e-sports content only. Any future use of the platform to express personal political opinions on sensitive subject matter without Blizzard's express conscent will be met with punative action."

> Follow that up with a description of what that punative action would look like.

Players already sign contracts stipulating that there will be punitive action for making political statements during tournament streams. I still agree with your broader point that they handled it badly, but I don't think they could have let him off with a warning and had any credibility left.


> but I don't think they could have let him off with a warning and had any credibility left.

Credibility in terms of having a punitive response which demonstrates their authority or among players who would be outraged over Blizzard not being cool with political speech mixing with pro championship broadcasts?


Yes, but those contracts are vaguely worded catchalls and do not provide details on what that punitive action looks like. I don't consider that to be sufficient to justify their reaction.


You’re writing this with the assumption that they were not explicitly told what to do by the Chinese government.


No. The Chinese government is using this entire crisis as a way of testing the limits of its power. They wanted to test it in a 0-10 scale but found the needle zoomed up to the right stop, so they adjusted the scale to 0-100 by dialing up their actions to even more extreme. That’s why they’re forcing these companies to bend the knee in public rather than quietly. They didn’t want to just disable the HKLive app, they wanted to see whether they could force Apple’s CEO to write a public mea culpa for them, which he did. You can be certain that a person with a direct line of authority to Xi made it very clear that Blizzard would not be allowed to “tactfully” deal with the situation publicist-style.

What you will soon see is the Chinese outrage dialing down as the government gets a good read on the 0-100 number and retreats for the next 30 years to build strategic power while the rest of the world gets distracted by the next Thing.


>retreats for the next 30 years to build strategic power while the rest of the world gets distracted by the next Thing.

You could argue that China may have worked like that in the past, but they don't under Xi. Dictators are never very patient. They are too concerned with personal power to put long term interests ahead of personal gain.

Just look at the HK situation for evidence. All they had to do was keep going slowly and wait till 2047, but Xi couldn't handle looking weak.


He can handle looking weak as long as the economy keeps humming along, which maintains CCP securely in place, which lessens internal party tensions.

If the Chinese economy crashes... well, look at history for the sum of dictatorship + economic malaise.


I meant he couldn't personally handle looking weak, not that the Winnie The Pooh thing was actually a threat to his power base.

He overreacted to something that wasn't actually a threat because it hurt his ego.

>If the Chinese economy crashes... well, look at history for the sum of dictatorship + economic malaise.

But yes that is a very good point.


It was total incompetency, shown in the way they treated their casters. Generally the production staff would be held responsible in traditional media. A producer or show runner should have been able to manage the feed. This leads me to believe that there was no protocol in place to manage this situation, Blizzard should be held accountable.

Would you see newscasters held responsible for what an interviewee said on a live feed?


> incompetent


The Communist Party of China may have strongly hinted (read: threatened) Blizzard over such a thing not being permitted and if it occurred that severe consequences would happen.

So Blizzard was not quite incompetent, they were just panic hedging against financial threats and to appease the Communist Party of China.


Meh. I'd say just allow all discussion or political discourse and let the community moderate? If people think that's stupid then players that do that will lose out. The community already decides what it will tolerate and what it will not.


> "We encourage players and community members to express themselves. However, our tournament coverage is a platform for Blizzard e-sports content only. Any future use of the platform to express personal political opinions on sensitive subject matter without Blizzard's express conscent will be met with punative action."

How about let people say what they want and let the public judge by themselves? Is that so hard to do nowadays? You just don't endorse anything individuals say, that's all.


I don't know about you, but I don't want every entertainment platform to be consumed by political discussion. Sometimes you just want an escape and that's something video games help provide.

Those discussions are worth having but there are already plenty of platforms available to have them on.


The part I find especially frustrating is the double speak. Why do they say "We encourage players and community members to express themselves" while punishing someone for expressing himself? Just be honest. "We discouraged players expressing opinions that make it harder for us to sell in other markets." That has the benefit of being honest, plus everyone knows it's the truth anyway.


It all comes down to the platform. A mod who takes down political threads on a support forum is not "discouraging community members from expressing themselves". They're moderating a forum with a specific content focus.

I definitely think it would be wrong for Blizzard to threaten any kind of punitive action against a player who is making those kinds of statements outside of Blizzard's platform.


When you don't publicly dissociate your company/party/whatev from statements that are made by people associated with your company/etc, people will take that as tacit acceptance or approval.

Blizzard's initial response was awful, and they've done little IMO to walk back from that. However, they do have a right (and the responsibility) to enforce their policies. Hopefully, if this same situation occurs again, they respond with something less than the nuclear option.


As seen with the Daryl Morey, the Houston Rockets, and the NBA, the Chinese government will go after anyone they can when incidents like this come up. Morey's single tweet in support of HK resulted in China cutting off their relationship with the Houston Rockets and also calling for Morey to be disciplined or punished by the NBA. In this case, the NBA hasn't done anything specific to Morey. However, many people are expecting some sort of retaliation from China against the NBA in the future.


So turn all platforms into 4chan, is that what you're suggesting?


Yeah just like 4chan. Except instead of anonymous it's public and instead of a message board it's real life. But other than that exactly like 4chan.


And that you only get a 20 seconds message once you won a tournament.


Blizzard president Brack’s statement that their policy limiting player speech is to “ keep the focus on the game and on the tournament."

This is curious in such an ad supported game and tournament coverage. Do twitch ads take focus away from the tournament? A five second statement by a player is nothing compared to all the non-game material within and around broadcasts.

This seems to me to be some damage reduction strategy that didn’t focus group its statements well enough.


It's a statement written for Chinese Authorities. This twitter thread analyzes it pretty well.

https://twitter.com/Grummz/status/1183215204525412352


that's a really good and thorough analysis.


[flagged]


> Either Mark Kern is misleading on purpose or he's a complete moron.

Out of 33 tweets he makes a single mistake/overreach and you want to brand the whole thing as a "ridiculous conspiracy theory"? That seems to be a rather hasty generalization based on the 2nd of 33 tweets...


Mark Kern is a gamergater primarily known for his really bad takes, this is not a hasty generalization.

>brand the whole thing as a "ridiculous conspiracy theory"?

Oh no, I just stopped reading after I reached the ridiculous conspiracy theory. My comment is regarding the part I quoted.


Do yourself a favor and finish reading the chain


I have now done that, my opinion remains unchanged.


Thanks.


[flagged]

FDSGSG 29 days ago [flagged]

>It's as though someone just finished explaining why vaccines are believed not to cause autism, and you respond "actually, this particular study you cited surveyed 924 people, not a thousand like you said. Looks like the pro-vax cult can't seem to stop lying!"

That'd be a mistake, or just poor wording. It kind of sounds like you're accusing me of some kind of silly pedantry here?

There's simply no way one could mistakenly arrive at the conclusion that this post might have originated from China, Mark Kern absolutely knew what he was doing when he dropped that insinuation. There's simply does not exist a single shred of evidence to support the "possibly China" claim.

Had he just left it at "overseas" then you could absolutely dismiss this as a mere mistake, he did not.


It also could have been a date based on last edit. There are so many possibilities, that it is suspect. Fair point.

Unlike you, I don't think it's all that important a detail as its omission (mistake or not) does not detract from the analysis.

Not to get too meta, but if it was intentional, why would it necessarily be, since it's so incidental to the narrative?


>Not to get too meta, but if it was intentional, why would it necessarily be, since it's so incidental to the narrative?

The decision to add "possibly China" despite no evidence pointing towards that was certainly intentional and in bad faith.

>Unlike you, I don't think it's all that important a detail as its omission (mistake or not) does not detract from the analysis.

I think his choice to deliberately misinform is worth being called out whether or not it detracts from the rest of the analysis. It's clear that this thread wasn't written in good faith.

The rest of his analysis is uninteresting and not worthy of much criticism, he's mostly correct, but a HS student could come up with this stuff.


It isnt possibly India. There is circumstantial evidence that it could be due to Chinese influence. The blanket interpretation ignoring context is not compelling. GL


> It isnt possibly India.

It's just as much "possibly India" as it's "possibly China", there's literally zero evidence (circumstantial or not) suggesting that the post originated from either.

> could be due to Chinese influence

Completely different from the suggestion that the post was literally made in China.

I'm sure absolutely nobody doubts that this post was made due to Chinese influence, it is the claim that the post physically originated from China which I find fundamentally ridiculous.


Honestly, I think this is going to be the end of Brack’s short tenure as top executive at Blizzard. I am reminded of the parable of the three letters. I think the company has backed itself into a corner, and the only way out is to let leadership fall on the sword.


Can you link to said parable? I have not heard it and Google doesn't turn up useful results for "parable of the three letters".


Not the GP, but perhaps the 'Prepare three envelopes' story [0], which seems relevant...

> The story of three envelopes is a business classic for dysfunctional organizations. It starts with an incoming manager replacing a recently fired outgoing manager. On his way out, the outgoing manager hands the new manager three envelopes and remarks, "when things get tough, open these one at a time."

> About three months goes by and things start to get rough. The manager opens his drawer where he keeps the three envelopes and opens #1. It reads: "Blame your predecessor." So he does and it works like a charm.

> Another three months passes and things are growing difficult again so the manger figures to try #2. It reads, "reorganize." Again, his predecessor's advice works like magic.

> Finally, about nine months into the new job, things are getting really sticky. The manager figures it worked before, why not try again. So he opens the envelope drawer one last time and opens #3. It reads..."prepare three envelopes."

[0] http://wikibon.org/wiki/v/Prepare_three_envelopes


The story of three envelopes is a business classic for dysfunctional organizations. It starts with an incoming manager replacing a recently fired outgoing manager. On his way out, the outgoing manager hands the new manager three envelopes and remarks, "when things get tough, open these one at a time."

About three months goes by and things start to get rough. The manager opens his drawer where he keeps the three envelopes and opens #1. It reads: "Blame your predecessor." So he does and it works like a charm.

Another three months passes and things are growing difficult again so the manger figures to try #2. It reads, "reorganize." Again, his predecessor's advice works like magic.

Finally, about nine months into the new job, things are getting really sticky. The manager figures it worked before, why not try again. So he opens the envelope drawer one last time and opens #3. It reads..."prepare three envelopes."

http://wikibon.org/wiki/v/Prepare_three_envelopes



They can eliminate the April Fools problem they had last blizzcon by simply lot allowing fans to ask questions direct to the panel but instead have them submitted and chosen.

April Fools problem was when a person asking a question chose to comment and ask something else, namely about mobile version of Diablo.


That's what happened with this guy (the guy in red). He was pre-screened, he wasn't selected at random. He was well known in the community as well, Blizzard already went with a safe crowd member. Short of embedding their own "paid-crowd" in the audience.. they couldn't have done much more.


That would be a pretty big admit of defeat though. Blizzcon for the last 10 years has had real customers asking questions from microphones. I assume they won't do that this year because they would be worried about what people will say, but I think that act in and of itself is very telling.


Do they have to admit it though? Is there any way an observer of the event could actually tell that the questioners were all plants?


> “ keep the focus on the game and on the tournament."

I just can't help myself but draw the parallels to the NBA and their current situation as well with China and the utter hypocrisy shown by everyone from GMs to Coaches all the way down to players and media staff. When it came to social issues and black incarceration and inequality in America they spoke up bravely, and stated they wouldn't just "shut up and dribble" as LeBron famously stated.

Steve Kerr, a long outspoken critic of Donald Trump famously stated in 2017, "If you look at the history of the world, the biggest problems come when people don't speak."

Now this is Steve Kerr in 2019 after the China controversy, specifically on whether Morey shouldn't be fired: "I would hope that you appreciate my right to not answer that question because all it does is create a headline"

Sure sounds like the players and coaches are now saying "let us shut up and dribble" and "let us focus on the game"


> social issues and black incarceration and inequality in America they spoke up bravely

people reveal their true values when they have to actually make a sacrifice.


I was having a similar conversation about how interesting it is that celebrities are all for easy moral decisions like “you can pee next to me” but when it comes to moral decisions that might hit their pocket book, they are quiet and even suppressive.

Taleb’s Skin in the Game gets brought up a lot, but I think it’s safe for me to assume that unless someone can suffer a loss, they are just saying blargh.

I know there are a few people who might buy less because they really hate trans people (which is really terrible as people should not hate someone on how they express their gender), but it’s not the same hit as 400 million Chinese not buying my stuff.


If you want to see someone who has skin in the game in the NBA, look at Enes Kanter. The things he says about the Turkish government are putting his life and his family's lives in actual danger. Makes the "sacrifices" your Kaepernick and LeBron types have made seem pretty tame in comparison (aka not really sacrificing anything)


Another older parallel which popped in my mind is tommie smith et al. 'silent gesture' at '68 olympics.


Probably those ads keep the tournament running, money wise, and thus result in focus on the game and on the tournament.


And motivated players don’t? This kind of reductionist non-logic means that Blizzard can do whatever they want and never reveal their true intentions.

This ultimately reduces the experience for players because Blizzard acts non-predictably.


Implying the distraction from the game and the tournament is just the 5 seconds.

Having code-pink style protests aimed at disrupting (not raising awareness) is going to backfire on protestors and could end the internet's fascination w/ supporting HK vs China.

Lets not forget that big money interests are involved heavily in pushing the astroturfing online. Many global and HK national interests depend on HK not being consumed by China. The billionaire protesting in the streets w/ people is being held up as an idol, but the reality is that he will become an even bigger target if HK unifies with China and will likely have his empire dissolved.

I'm all for a free HK, but the fact is that's not going to happen. Barring a world war, they will be eventually incorporated as a part of China proper.


The fact that Blizzard is in a position to throw a 'Con' each year shows that their games and lore are way more highly valued then most games companies. Could you imagine fans paying $230 to visit to an EA exclusive convention each year? Not gonna happen with their reputation. Blizzard is at real risk of losing this community they've fostered for the last 20+ years


I agree that Blizzard is risking their community with their moves, but I don't think the financials of their games/IP are that important.

Lots of cons get thrown each year, with games / lore / ip that aren't particularly highly valued. All you really need is a strong community, and the con works. That's it. Great IP helps, but isn't necessary.

I follow Warframe, for example, which is just one game from one studio and their IP is is only worth like ~10% the financial value of Blizzard. Despite this, Warframe has their own convention every single year, that sells out every year. People pay $50 - $300 for tickets to that (plus lodging/airfare/etc). They invested in their community, and it paid off.

EA could easily throw a convention every year, even just with a single game, if they had invested in building a community around it. For example, "Anthem-con" could be a yearly event, if Anthem hadn't shipped incomplete and left to fade away.


See also stuff like Paradox's con and MechCon.


I for one stopped playing any Blizzard games long ago and had not even heard about Blizzard for years expect during the "Do you guys not have phones?" fiasco and now this.

Memes about their incompetence seem to be the only way they get any publicity anymore.


They deserve to have lost it already, the company that built up that loyalty is dead.


You say that like reputation matters. Bethesda has a reputation for buggy messes and actively sought to burn customers with fallout 76. The game companys' reputation is part of the product, you get to play the game of hating on EA. If you charged $230 for a con that exaggerated some drama around how bad EA is (or whatever), you'd likely sell tickets. Most large companies can afford to and do throw cons, I don't know ticket prices though.

Blizzard isn't about the older generation anymore. That is dying off naturally. They have built a new set of products for kids.


Hardly a unique thing. Last WG fest got 200k attendees, for example.

https://eng.belta.by/society/view/wargaming-fest-tanker-day-...


Not very common though.


Blizzard owns its IP whereas EA licenses it.

Fans are paying much, much, more than $230 to attend NBA, NFL, FIFA, etc. games.


> Blizzard is at real risk of losing this community they've fostered for the last 20+ years

I'm reminded of that image of people in a Call of Duty boycott on Steam, playing Call of Duty. Blizzard will lose some money over the next couple of weeks, but aren't at a real risk of anything.

https://kotaku.com/what-modern-warfare-2-boycotters-are-play...


Maybe. Hearthstone has been on a downward trend for the last 1.75 years as evident by their quarterly reports over that time period which state the game has had a decline of active users and revenue. They’ve even started to monetize previously non-monetized product offerings but it didn’t result in the game out-earning previous expansions released in the same time of the year. I doubt the current scandal has helped the numbers recover.


That Call of Duty meme has long since been discredited. https://www.resetera.com/threads/so-you-posted-the-boycott-m...


Without seeing the other 17 pages this isn't really discredit it either... they were just as likely to look the same as not.

Slacktivism is a very predictable phenomenon today. I'm seeing plenty of examples of it in both the Blizzard threads today.


>Does that mean that only these 19 people of 833 were playing Call of Duty Modern Warfare 2 at the time? Probably not. There are defnitly more people that played it despite being in the group. It could very well be possible that people in the group not in this picture all played Modern Warfare 2 at the time. However, this picture doesn't show it.

Not really.


Blizzard used to be my favorite gaming company. I remember when I was much younger dreaming of being able to work there on World of Warcraft. I played a ridiculous amount of WoW/Warcraft 3/Starcraft as a kid, and more recently a decent amount of WoW/Hearthstone/Overwatch.

I had been a WoW subscriber for over a decade. WoW's quality has been in decline (IMO) recently in BFA, and I stayed because I still occasionally enjoyed it, but it no longer has the same magic that I remember. WoW Classic brought back some of that nostalgia, but it was short lived for me.

BlizzCon last year made it pretty clear that Blizzard has shifted their focus [0]. There is no way they were delusional enough to expect a happy reaction to the Diablo Immortal announcement. It's very clearly targeted at the Chinese market.

Their actions in the past month (and year) are very telling - they are no longer the company I used to admire. I've canceled my WoW subscription as of last week, and I've deleted all of their games from my devices. I know that my actions alone/individually don't really have an impact on them, but I can't go on supporting them after the things they've been doing recently. Bellular has a pretty good video breaking down some of this situation as well [1].

It'll be interesting to see how BlizzCon goes this year.

[0]: https://www.reddit.com/r/videos/comments/9tsy49/blizzard_get...

[1]: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bbPrbqE06Y4


>Their actions in the past month (and year) are very telling - they are no longer the company I used to admire.

"Never meet your heroes".


My son-in-law has lived in China and confronted me about my boycott. His position is that the content in Blizz games is kinda subversive to the authoritarianism practiced by the CCP. No other gaming company has the breadth of socially reformative messaging contained in WoW, Overwatch et.al. Should Blizz perform corporate harakiri by appeasing the angry SJW (not spoken derisively) in the West, the CCP would have no problem shutting down access to Blizz and the population would hardly notice. They would however not be exposed to the gaming content meaning the generational war with culture will be lost.

I stood firm and maintained that CCP was now fighting with plutocracy for changes to the culture in the west. An example is Marvel changing a Tibetan male monk to a western woman. His contention is that even that change was handled as well as you could expect. Even choosing the Celts as her culture is a small poke at the Chinese for their oppression of the Tibetans. Making it a woman even more so.

I'm still angry at Blizz and thinking about what he said. I will at the very least boycott past the Nov. 7th earnings call to see how deep it runs.

He does have a point about the greater good. This might be the wrong target for outrage.


This is how modern censorship works: let people have some limited margin, some limited freedom of speech when they only talk to friends or to groups of 4-5 people. Monitor them though. Do not believe for one second that Blizzard does not handle all the chat logs to the CCP.

Regular censorship must only happen when it matters: when millions are watching. This is when you strike hard and uncompromisingly.

Shutting down Blizzard in China would be a punishment the CCP handles to its citizens, and a proof to the world that it is not ready to be part of the international culture. It comes with a cost as well. Dare them to do it.

> I stood firm and maintained that CCP was now fighting with plutocracy > for changes to the culture in the west.

I totally agree and this is a very strong red line to me. I reluctantly agree that it is best that each country does not meddle too much into the national policies of each other, but if China starts to push for universality of their values, we need to stop being shy at pushing back ours.


I'm not buying this. China still looks up to Western culture and brands in many ways and any subversive messaging is simply considered part of the entertainment. Limiting access to these would send a clear message that "the way you're doing things just isn't right".

The e-terrorism that they've carried out using the "Great Cannon" should be internationally understood as a criminal act and get them cut off from the internet, too. That might eventually convey the message that the way they're running a country simply isn't acceptable in 2019.

Many Chinese still use VPNs to access Western media and plenty of movies, TV shows and games are hosted internally on the national network. Blizzard games require a persistent connection to the company's servers to play, so if access to these were revoked a rather thought provoking message would be sent.

Whether Blizzard or the CCP themselves enact that ban, I don't think it particularly matters.


> His position is that the content in Blizz games is kinda subversive to the authoritarianism practiced by the CCP.

They've already been censoring this subversive content. Two Overwatch characters are revealed as LGBT in the comics but those comics have been censored in China.

There's also weirder examples like this: https://www.engadget.com/2007/07/10/china-removes-skeletons-...


As a society we've been taking the "working with them is better than cutting them out" strategy for 20 years now, and it isn't working. That's how we've gotten to where we are in the first place. We are dealing with an actor that is a) working in bad faith, and b) smart. We aren't going to covertly sneak democratic values into Xi's country; he knows exactly how much is allowable before it starts to have an impact. By giving him the option, we're only helping his plans.


No he doesn't. Some good deeds don't erase your bad deeds, especially when those bad deeds were done in what now appears to be bad faith.


I'm still on the fence. I'm still boycotting. I've come around to the position thou that there are redeeming steps Blizz can take.


I play sc2, which is free to play. I changed my account name for "FreedomForHK". I play on Asian servers and responses have been very positive so far.


You've "come around" to that position? Are you suggesting that the baseline isn't that position?

No one is suggesting Blizzard is irredeemable, it's just very unlikely, given Blizzard's past behavior, that they're going to take the necessary steps to fix this.

Honestly, what the heck are you even talking about? You sound like someone who is actively trying to misrepresent the situation...


I actually started out thinking Blizzard could do nothing to redeem themselves. What level of action would make me believe they could be a trusted honest actor on the cultural stage given the capitulation to CCP interest?

I cancelled my WoW subscription and uninstalled all their games, quit following the streamers that produced content for Blizz games and started speaking out on social media against them.

Their actions felt like betrayal of values I hold very dear. I'm active in politics locally and donate time to the Pirates (lucky enough to live in Iceland where they actually have made a huge difference).


A statement like Randy Marsh made - “F—— the Chinese government” - seems like a candidate for a redemption ;)

Edit:formatting


> What level of action would make me believe they could be a trusted honest actor on the cultural stage given the capitulation to CCP interest?

You tell me! You just wrote:

> I've come around to the position thou that there are redeeming steps Blizz can take.

What is this conversation?


I think Blizzard is certainly catching a lot of the consumer rage that could be directed at a lot of international companies. In the same week as Blizzards censorship, the NBA and Nike has their own protest censorship and both Google and Apple removed the Hong Kong protest apps as well as the Taiwanese emoji flags. Nike and Apple both lead more progressive PR campaigns than Blizzard but they have catches less heat over the issue.

I’m a little split on this. I don’t like what Blizzard did and I think it was definitely influenced by China. So I’m kind of glad this is an issue for them. At the same time my national government helped Censor maps on behalf of China to make sure we were able to get Pandas in one of our Zoos. The censorship was very nicely handled, the issue was showing Taiwan and China as two countries on a map showing panda habitants, and instead of making them one country they simply zoomed in enough for Taiwan not to be part of the map. So no lie on behalf of Chin, but still censorship...

And there are just so many things related to China that are worse than Blizzard. I know this is whataboutism and I know you can boycott more things than one, but I just can’t help feeling silly boycotting Blizzard while I’m using an iPhone.

I do hope this controversy sparks some legislative action, but it’s probably a really tricky area.


> And there are just so many things related to China that are worse than Blizzard. I know this is whataboutism and I know you can boycott more things than one, but I just can’t help feeling silly boycotting Blizzard while I’m using an iPhone.

I don't think it's stilly. It seems like we've reached a bit of a tipping point on CCP appeasement with the NBA and Blizzard, and there's nothing wrong with hitting while the iron's hot. Hopefully the heat will spread to other areas.


I would be on board with this, except that Blizzard is directly making money off of that "subversive" message. It's not a greater good situation at all, it's just Blizzard making money with the aid of an authoritarian government.


This will be truly interesting to see.

I wonder what can Blizzard possibly do for this not to spiral out of control and please West and China at the same time.

I do not envy their PR department right now.

But then again its all their own doing, so ready up the popcorn...


they cannot please both.

They will have to ride out the bad PR in the west, because they cannot afford to ride out the chinese market's dominance and profits.


With a profit margin of ~25%, and a mere 10% of revenue coming from China, Activision Blizzard is in no risk of going bankrupt should they lose the Chinese market.

They're only at risk of losing an opportunity to milk the Chinese market for all the money they can later.


The chinese market is not dominant and won’t be for quite a long time, if ever. The West (i.e. Five Eyes + EU) collectively has a far larger GDP and much more of it is in the form of consumer disposable income.

What China represents that’s so attractive to multinationals is a virtually untapped market and so enormous opportunity for growth. But if it came down to picking one or the other the smart move would be the west.


Stop saying that. Many companies could completely afford to abandon the Chinese market. They just don't want to.

I have slightly more sympathy (from a practical perspective) for those with significant supply chains in China - that extraction will take time.


the Chinese are 14% of their business. They could cut in other areas to make up for that loss.


No. The Asia Pacific region is 14% of their business. That certainly includes China, but it isn't all China.

https://www.statista.com/statistics/269665/activison-blizzar...


Even better. That means less cuts in their business to take the right stand for freedom.


activision (blizzard's parent(?) company) is looking to expand in the chinese market.

I m using this as a source : https://youtu.be/L3E1feh30fE?t=59 , and i m certain they want to ensure that their mobile titles do well in the chinese market (like their up-coming COD titles, as well as existing titles like candy crush etc). This requires that the chinese gov't "approve" them. They don't want to jeopardize this relationship.


Wouldn't they have to grow in other areas to make up the loss? That sounds a lot harder.


I'm personally curious if the amount of profit is being overstated. My guess is that video game publishers in China grow to similar quality of western publishers and Chinese nationalism means the gamers from which Blizzard is hoping to glean their "profits" turn to supporting China's home-grown games.


> I'm personally curious if the amount of profit is being overstated. My guess is that video game publishers in China grow to similar quality of western publishers and Chinese nationalism means the gamers from which Blizzard is hoping to glean their "profits" turn to supporting China's home-grown games.

China is not turning out to be a land of milk and honey for western corporations. The best business decision for a Western business with regard to China may be to give up on it, because the PRC wants your local competitor to succeed, not you.

https://www.wsj.com/articles/america-is-losing-the-chinese-s...

> The shift signals a possible end of an era. For years, it was customary for Western executives to tout their plans for dominating China—a market they felt they had to win as markets elsewhere matured. But foreign consumer brands now hold a smaller market share in the categories tracked by McKinsey & Co. than at any time since the global financial crisis, according to a Wall Street Journal analysis of research from the U.S. consulting firm, incorporating data from Euromonitor and IHS Markit. Market share losses were particularly evident in categories such as pet food, passenger cars, videogames, smartphones and appliances.

> ...

> Some Western companies, including Carrefour SA, Amazon Inc. and Uber Technologies Inc., have decided China is too complex or costly to win for some of their major businesses, and have closed or sold them off after facing powerful local rivals who were able to largely control the market. Ford Motor Co. , Apple Inc. and others remain committed, but are struggling to meet expectations. Amazon said it continues to serve Chinese consumers through its cross-border e-commerce business and remains committed to China. Uber didn’t respond to requests to comment. Ford didn’t comment. Carrefour provided no further comment beyond its press release detailing the transaction.

I made this same comment elsewhere, but it's relevant here, too.


Thanks for the comment!


>they cannot please both

Well that's my guess, but that's not what your boss would tell you to do :D


I suspect this may be short sighted on Blizzards part in the long term, if they don't capture the Chinese market and wind up losing western marketshare.


My 11 year old daughter has been looking forward to her first BlizzCon all year. She has been saving her allowance money so she can buy some d.va gear. She's been planning her cosplay, she's working with her mom to sew a d.va dress together based on a skin she likes. Everyday I walk her to school she's telling me her next Overwatch plan. I understand the protests, I'm angry myself at Blizzard's actions, but I'm not about to break her heart over my political opinions. Blizzard isn't going to be the only one hurt by what's happening.


Not everyone has to be a political activist, especially an 11yr old. Life is short and full of competing priorities, I doubt it will get much worse because a father and his daughter didn't protest.

I wouldn't worry about it.

Hopefully no one harasses those who still decide to go or causes any violence. That never helps anyone.


You are a good parent. Thank you. She doesn't deserve to lose out because Blizzard decided that their financial interests in China are more important than ethics and morality. I hope you both have fun there!


I haven't been following this Blizzard situation (debacle maybe?) too closely but does anyone know which has had a greater affect on American's humanitarian interests in Hong Kong, was it Blizzard or the NBA?

It's hard to tell if I'm seeing Blizzard and gaming show up more because of tech overlap but both seemed to have a huge impact on increased discussion among people around me. It really brought a lot of exposure to people who don't follow the news that closely, ime anyways.


I'm not sure who will have the greatest effect, but gamers are historically good at not forgetting old but unresolved news. Blizzard is going to be dealing with this for as long as it takes for them to make amends.


blizzard, by drawing attention and banning the HS player, has inadvertently caused their own PR nightmare. If they just left it alone, there would've been less issues, and the media wouldn't be discussing it at all.


> and the media wouldn't be discussing it at all.

But the Chinese government might. And that might be much worse for them.


Unless Activision Blizzard plans to move their HQ to China, having the US government talking about you in a very negative light is likely worse for them.


The playerbase for some of their games is apparently as high as 70% China-based [1]. We can't verify this, because Blizzard doesn't release that information publicly, but if even remotely true, losing access to the Chinese market would be financially devastating.

[1] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JSAlh9l-c7Q


Blizzard does not release player numbers, but as a public company, they do release their financials.

Per Activision Blizzard's investor calls, approximately 10% of their total revenue is from China. So, with a profit margin of 25% and profits in the billions, Activision Blizzard is not going to go bankrupt even should they lose all their Chinese income.


Would you be impressed as a stockholder of a company that experiences a 10% reduction in revenue, voluntarily through an avoidable action?


If the action is in support of morals I (and much of the US) believe in, absolutely.

Money is not everything. I think it's a shame that so many are willing to support a company who will ditch their morals for just a bit more profit.

EDIT: This isn't just a hypothetical either, ATVI is on a blacklist of stock that I will not purchase. I hope others will do the same.


They are pretty likely to drop 10% just from us people dropping them.


I am just glad that both incidents coincided to happen within the same week. If it was just one or the other, it wouldn't have been as impactful. But with both NBA and Blizzard being put in a tough spotlight at the same time, the message is significantly amplified.


Blizzard is more vulnerable to financial boycotts than other companies:

1) Their product is only used for fun. 2) They have subscription products that aren't used all the time, and thus easy to cancel if someone is reminded they have it.

I would be surprised if their next quarters earnings projections didnt take a nose dive.


Blizzard counts on revenue from China making up for the revenue lost due to censorship.

Gamers in the west hope Blizzard is wrong.


Gamers in the rest of the world can all do our part to make sure Blizzard is wrong.


At this rate Blizzard will move Blizzcon to China


That would be the ultimate capitulation. So I expect it.


Best protest is to not attend, offline or online. Ignore the news they share.


So, Winnie-the-Pooh outfits for everyone?


I think that's the ruling party way of things: They usually try to obliterate into particles whoever dares to oppose them. Or whoever crosses their path; or whoever they don't like for whatever reason. Just take a look at the Uyghurs situation.

* edited because it seems people where taking offence on I miss using the word Chinese instead of "ruling party", that is actually what I meant.

falcolas 28 days ago [flagged]

How did their idiom go?

"We'll grind you up and crush your bones."

Sure, it is just an idiom, but it speaks to the thoroughness of their punishments.

EDIT: This is a direct, and recent, quote from Xí Jìnpíng when discussing (with foreign leaders) how the Chinese government will treat anyone who tries to split or sew dissent in China.


Please don't take HN threads further into nationalistic flamewar. It's not what this site is for.

https://news.ycombinator.com/newsguidelines.html


[flagged]

falcolas 28 days ago [flagged]

Is it a racial comment when the leader of a country uses that exact quote to describe how they will deal with anyone who threatens the harmony of China, including the situations that the grandparent was referring to?

https://supchina.com/2019/10/15/well-grind-you-up-and-crush-...


Reply to comment from Falcolas:

> Is it a racial comment when the leader of a country uses that exact quote to describe how they will deal with anyone who threatens the harmony of China, including the situations that the grandparent was referring to?

It is, when your message is an explicit commented on "I think that's the Chinese way of thing:[...]". Please understand that Xi does not speak for all Chinese (hence the protest and conflict) and having an idiom about crushing bones says next to nothing about how a culture or race is.

There are plenty of idioms in English about idiots. Does that say anything about English speakers? I highly doubt it.

--- Update Pardon my words. I said it too hastily and don't mean to accuse you. I am born in China and have lived 10 years there. I disagree with some of the actions of the current Chinese government but I am also frustrated with people commenting on things without spending enough time to self educate.

The link that you have attached seem to be mostly anti-government and (IMO) provides a very limited view on a very complex problem.


> Please understand that Xi does not speak for all Chinese

That may be. But, unfortunately, the vast majority of mainland Chinese are perfectly fine with what the Chinese leadership are doing.

Yes, it may be due to propaganda. Yes, they may not know any better. Yes, they may be being blackmailed.

Tough.

Justification doesn't help much when you are the one receiving pointy end of the stick.


Thanks for following up @falcolas and fair point to both of you (falcolas and bsder). Unfortunate that it is indeed the case.

falcolas 28 days ago [flagged]

I called it out as an idiom, because the non-idiomatic use is worse. And, while not qualified initially, I was speaking specifically about Xí Jìnpíng use of it.

That said, when the leader of a country uses a phrase, it is going to reflect on the entire country. And yes, that includes various Trumpisms as well. I knew plenty of perfectly nice people who voted for Trump. Some regret it, others do not; but both are tainted unconsciously by their direct association with Trump. And even though I had no (practical) say in his election, his words taint my presence in the eyes of others.

EDIT: Most things are complex. However, I can not come up with a scenario where China's actions against Hong Kong protesters can be considered to be "correct" and "good". At least no scenario that doesn't involve a lot of lying to others and to oneself.

And Xí Jìnpíng's use of the idiom feels a bit literal when it comes to what is happening in HK.


Chinese way or Communist Party way? They’re not necessarily the same.


Well, to be fair they stopped being "communist" a long time ago. But yes, you are conrrect: By "China" I didn't mean the whole of China acts that way. It's their current government.


That's very much a CCP thing. Chinese people are actually rather nice.


Blizzard needs some OG leadership to come in and fix their situation. I hate seeing my childhood get ruined.


Like the Ship of Theseus, I don't think Blizzard is the same company you grew up with any longer.


As long as the protesters don't disrupt the experience that I paid for too much, they can do whatever they want.

After weighing the facts carefully, I've decided that Blizzard was justified in penalizing the Hearthstone player, justified in penalizing the two casters, and truly abysmal at managing public relations.

My position on Hong Kong is unchanged. I'm still firmly of the belief that China needs to grant Hong Kong full autonomy and/or independence, and that China needs to stop trying to extend its morally bankrupt censorship beyond its own borders.


Protest is supposed to interrupt, to be there where it isn't wanted. It is supposed to be inconvenient and blocking.


If you stand on the side of the road with your signs, I may read your signs, and I might even be sympathetic to your cause. If you block the road with your signs, I definitely won't read your signs, and I definitely won't be sympathetic to your cause. Same for any type of violence.


That might be true. If 500.000 people block every big street in a city, you will read the signs and think about the cause. What a protest can afford depends on how many are protesting.

Going to the specific event in question, the convention of Activision Blizzard, if one person tries to blocks the event with protest, they will be removed, if necessary by physical force. If sufficiently many block the event with protest, the protest will be successful.

jressey 29 days ago [flagged]

Let me summarize: 'Thoughts and prayers to the people of Hong Kong.'


Alternatively: "I don't want other people's pain and suffering to ruin my good time. Please suffer quietly and out of sight."


But that's already been happening for years. It wasn't until Blizzard banned a HS player that people got riled up. Prior to that, no one really cared. In fact, those doing the boycott weren't planning on doing anything prior to this. It wasn't until the community they were apart of was affected that they did something.

If anything, Blizzard doing what it did helped the cause more than anything. If they hadn't done anything, no one would have cared (because people weren't doing a damn thing on this scale before).


> But that's already been happening for years.

I'm not sure what you're referring to.

The protests in Hong Kong have been going on for for at most 200 days and it is only recently that the situation escalated to where we are at now.


> It wasn't until Blizzard banned a HS player that people got riled up.

Correction: It wasn't until Blizzard banned a HS player during a US/China trade war that people got riled up.


Do not mistake my judgment in favor of Blizzard's actions for approval of China's actions.

Hong Kong is in crisis and its people need help.

Blizzard's actions do not equate to subservience to China. They may have been a little too harsh in enforcing their extant policy, however.

I think these protesters would be better served by protesting at NBA games, given the much wider audience. I don't deny their right to protest at BlizzCon, but I think they're wasting their time. As such, I don't see their disruption of BlizzCon as anything other than a disruption. It's not like it's going to change my opinion of China (which I've stated elsewhere here).

lovich 29 days ago [flagged]

Ah yes, as long as the protesters are non disruptive and I can ignore them they are allowed to protest as they want. Should they inconvenience me however, someone will have to take care of them


> the experience that I paid for

I would feel sorry for you, but you would have to pay me for that too.

I ask myself what facts are there to be weighted. I doubt playing along and suddenly China liberalizes is a realistic outlook.

But since China wasn't content with keeping their content rules within their own borders, that option quickly became less interesting. And I do believe that warrants a very strong answer. One which could even deescalate and drawing a clear border for China to respect if it wants to be treated in kind.


Did you read my last sentence?

China needs to be dealt with. The world has ignored its crimes against humanity for too long.

But that doesn't change my position on Blizzard's actions.


So long as US companies (like Blizzard) have strong financial and supply chain ties to China, the US has no incentive to move against China.

If we want the US to move against China, those ties must be cut, not ignored or grown. As such, Blizzard’s actions only helps to prolong China’s dominance.

If you really want China to be challenged, supporting Blizzard doesn’t further that goal.


But it doesn't hinder that goal either.

If you want China to play by the rules of a free society, it must be freed, not ignored. That requires force, and not symbolic protest of a relatively insignificant company.


I agree with this mostly. I think penalizing the casters were a bit too much though.




Guidelines | FAQ | Support | API | Security | Lists | Bookmarklet | Legal | Apply to YC | Contact

Search: