BlizzCon 2019 has become the staging point of a massive “umbrella protest” against Blizzard for trying to curb the all-important freedom of speech.
The movement is being organized by a non-profit group called Fight for the Future that comprises both activists and gamers. The movement itself has been named Gamers for Freedom and now calls upon players to show their support by joining the protest against Blizzard at BlizzCon 2019 next month.
“Freedom of expression is a fundamental human right, and it’s outrageous to think that an American company [Blizzard] would take away your money and your job simply because you want to be free from oppression,” preaches Evan Greer, deputy director of Fight for the Future.
Trouble started brewing for Blizzard after the company took strict measures against Hearthstone professional Chung “Blitzchung” Ng Wai for calling out for the liberation of Hong Kong in his post-match winning interview on a live stream. Blizzard not only banned him for a year but also took away his winnings. The casters involved at the time were also fired by Blizzard.
The episode resulted in a call to boycott the California-based company. Brian Kibler, professional caster and streamer, slammed Blizzard for an overly harsh judgment and stated that he would no longer be involved in any Hearthstone tournaments. Moderators of the Hearthstone subreddit stepped down in protest as well. Mark Kern, former lead for vanilla World of Warcraft, asked for players to rise up against the censorship. Even current Blizzard employes decided to stage their own walkouts in protest against an unruly stance of their company.
The noise did force Blizzard to make a statement on the weekend, reducing the ban of Blitzchung by half and promising to give his winnings. The company also noted that relationships with Chinese investors had nothing to do with decision-making. However, the community was far from believing any of those claims.
“This is not going away,” states Greer, “Blizzard, and other companies who are engaging in censorship on behalf of an authoritarian government, are not going to get away with it. They have no idea what kind of Internet shitstorm they’ve unleashed. We’re going to make an example out of them to make sure that all companies know that throwing human rights and free expression under the bus to make some extra money will not be tolerated.”
It’s unconfirmed if protestors are planning to invade BlizzCon 2019 or will be sticking outside of the venue. In either case, protestors are being asked to “come in cosplay with signs and creative shirts” against Blizzard. Suffice to say, Blizzard will be working overtime to making BlizzCon 2019 secure and safe.
BlizzCon 2019 is scheduled to take place November 1-2 at the Anaheim Convention Center in California. The company might have to make some very important reveals — Diablo 4 — to reverse this public relations nightmare.