Epic Games has 40% of its stocks owned by Tencent, the company that allows the company to publish its games in China. While Tencent has a large number of published games under its belt, Tim Sweeney said that at Epic Games free speech is going to be the policy as long as he controls the company.
The posts became necessary when Blizzard Taiwan disqualified and banned a professional Hearthstone player from a future tournament and also took away his winnings and victory for voicing support for the Hong Kong protests in a post-tournament interview.
Hong Kong is currently wracked with protests over various laws that China, which acquired the city in 1997, was attempting to pass, particularly a highly controversial extradition bill. Blizzard Taiwan censured the winning Hearthstone player to avoid upsetting China, which could potentially cost the company a huge market if Blizzard games are banned there.
In his Epic Games free speech burst on Twitter, Tim Sweeney said that even though Tencent controlled 40% of the company, he was still the controlling shareholder, and there were many other investors and shareholders besides him, meaning that he still got to make the decisions despite Tencent being a major controlling interest.
China has a wide variety of various censorship laws that media companies, whether they’re games or movies, have to follow if they want their media to be released there. Included among these are that the villain must always be caught and punished, that China not be portrayed negatively, and that the film not advocate overthrowing governments or upsetting social order.
With how large and populated China is, it represents an enormous market in both the film and video game industries, hence why Blizzard, which has a huge portion of its playerbase for World of Warcraft in China, would do their best to keep that market.
But, even if Blizzard won’t do anything, it’s nice that at Epic Games free speech is still advocated.