I’ve been doubting if I wanted to write a post about this, mostly because my opinion on this whole Blizzard controversy feels trivial and maybe unecessary but since I wanted to write something and no other inspiration struck me I may aswell write about this.
I’m not going to do a neat breakdown post like Belghast did. Nor am I going to announce my immediate breaking away from everything that’s Blizzard related so if you’re looking for that you can stop reading this post right here. Instead I want to talk a bit about my personal views on the subject and how this may impact Blizzard as a company (or not).
First off I want to say I think Blizzard made a huge mistake in how they handled this entire thing. The banning the player and taking his prize money, the firing of the casters, the immediate Chinese back-up. But I do understand why they did it. Blizzard, like a lot of other companies, unfortunately has quite a big stake in the Chinese market. As much as we would love it if they made a statement to support Hong Kong or any anti-China sentiment at all it would be financial suicide. They’re not alone in that, plenty of other companies are in the same situation. They may not condone what China is doing on a political plane but they are dependent on them from a market perspective. In the end Blizzard is a company that needs to make a profit if they want to survive and keep churning out new content and paying their employees. As much as we want Blizzard to be on the moral high ground, reality is just not working that way. Their employees may be sympathetic to the Hong Kong protestors, but above that they want to keep their jobs. It’s just the way the world works and I think a lot of people have this rose tinted vision of game developers like Blizzard and get irrationally angry when stuff like this happens. Again I want to reiterate that I don’t agree with how Blizzard handled this and I absolutely know that China is run by a horrible regime that is violating human rights everywhere they look. I’m not ignorant to what is happening on the other side of the world and I can only count my blessings when I realize that I live in one of the safest, most free countries in the World. I don’t have to riot for my freedom nor do I have to fear for my live because I have different beliefs than the people who are in charge. I also know that I as a single individual can’t change anything. It’s the government of the Western world that has decided to turn a blind eye to Chinese practices because money. And I don’t think anything is going to change there anytime soon.
So where does this leave me when it comes to Blizzard games? I guess I’m still playing them. I’m still logging into WoW (Retail and Classic) and my sub is still going for three months. Do I feel the need to boycott Blizzard? No. I know that the employees who work on these games don’t make these decisions. It’s corporate greed and that’s not going to change anytime soon. If I was going to boycott Blizzard over this I could boycott half the companies I buy stuff from for the same reasons. Most of the stuff we buy is manufactured in China, where we know human rights are tossed to the side.
Do I think this has damaged Blizzards’ already tarnished reputation? Absolutely. It was ridiculous to do this so close to Blizzcon aswell. But I know that collective memory is short and something else will soon happen to make people forget this, as sad as that may be. But for now Blizzard find themselves to be in the center of the outrage and in gaming circles hatred can hang around a little longer than normal. I’m curious to see how Blizzcon will turn out this year and how they are going to try to save face.
Anyway that was my little stream of conciousness about the whole Blizzard controversy. Hopefully I will have better material for my next blog post.