Blizzard’s former ‘World of Warcraft’ lead is boycotting the firm for punishing a ‘Hearthstone’ competitor who supported the Hong Kong protests

  • A prominent former employee at Blizzard has said he is boycotting the firm after it banned gamer Chung Ng Wai, a pro esports player who voiced support for the Hong Kong protesters in a post-game interview.
  • Mark Kern is a video game developer who worked at Blizzard from 1997 to 2005, known for his work as team lead on hit video game 'World of Warcraft', as well as for producing 'Diablo 2' and 'Starcraft.'
  • Chung Ng Wai is better known as Blitzchung online. During a post-match interview at Blizzard's "Hearthstone" tournament in Japan, he shouted: "Liberate Hong Kong, revolution of our age."
  • In a Twitter thread posted on Wednesday, Kern said that "until Blizzard reverses their decision on Blitzchung, I am giving up playing Classic WoW."
  • Blizzard – whose parent company Activision Blizzard is part-owned by Chinese tech giant Tencent – has drawn widespread criticism for its actions.
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Prominent former Blizzard employee Mark Kern is boycotting his old employer after it banned pro esports player Blitzchung, real name Chung Ng Wai, for voicing support for the Hong Kong protestors.

Last week, Blizzard – whose parent company is part-owned by Chinese tech giant Tencent – banned Blitzchung for a year and revoked $10,ooo in prize money he had won playing the Blizzard-made game 'Hearthstone.' The Hong Kong-based esports pro, whose real name is Chung Ng Wai, had shouted "Liberate Hong Kong, revolution of our age" in a live post-game interview.

On Wednesday, Kern – a team lead on "World of Warcraft" at Blizzard from 1997 to 2005 – posted a Twitter thread in response to Blitzchung's punishment. In the thread, he vowed to stop playing "World of Warcraft" and laid out his reasons for the boycott.

The thread's parent tweet reads: "This hurts. But until Blizzard reverses their decision on @blitzchungHS I am giving up playing Classic WoW, which I helped make and helped convince Blizzard to relaunch. There will be no Mark of Kern guild after all. Let me explain why I am #BoycottBlizzard."

 

Read more: Some Blizzard employees reportedly walked out to protest the punishment of a 'Hearthstone' competitor who spoke up in support of the Hong Kong protests

In the thread, Kern – who identifies as ethnically Chinese – strongly criticized the Chinese games industry. He claimed he had "seen firsthand the corruption of Chinese gaming companies," and that he had once been "removed from a company I founded (after Blizzard) for refusing to take a 2 million dollar kickback bribe to take an investment from China. Not everyone refused like I did."

Kern's criticisms also focused on China more broadly, as well as homing in on Blizzard. He accused China of "dictating the world be authoritarian," calling on Blizzard to "grow the spine it used to have" and admitting "Blizzard is the LAST company I ever expected to give in to China's demands."

His boycott comes at a time of intense and seemingly growing anti-Blizzard rhetoric in the wake of its Blitzchung ban.

As first reported by the Daily Beast, up to 30 employees from Blizzard's parent firm, Activision Blizzard, walked out in protest at the firm's actions. One longtime employee reportedly described Blizzard's actions as "pretty appalling."

The incident has also received attention outside gaming circles. On Tuesday, Democratic Senator Ron Wyden tweeted that Blizzard was prepared to "humiliate itself" to placate China, adding that "no American company should censor calls for freedom to make a quick buck."

Blitzchung himself has defended his actions, describing it as his "duty" to comment on the Hong Kong protests.

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