Blizzard Entertainment released a statement on Oct. 12 that explained its stance of keeping “the official channels focused on the game” rather than being used as a political platform. And nobody’s above that rule—not even Twitch chat.
Viewers who type “Free Hong Kong” during the Hearthstone Masters Tour will receive a 24-hour chat restriction from the PlayHearthstone Twitch channel. Dot Esports tested this by typing the message in the chat. Our message was instantly erased and we were timed out from chat for 24 hours.
Blizzard has also been censoring any pro-China statements, according to some users online.
“They’ve also been ‘censoring’ anything pro-China,” a Reddit user said. “I see some people testing the system by typing pro-China stuff and it gets deleted in a couple seconds.”
Hearthstone pro Chung “Blitzchung” Ng Wai was the catalyst for a recent controversy after he said the slogan of the Hong Kong protest movement during a post-game interview. Blizzard then punished Blitzchung by suspending him for one year and stripping him of his Grandmasters prize earnings. The company later adjusted the heavy-handed penalty to six months and gave his money back to him.
Blizzard’s handling of the situation was widely criticized by fans, players, and casters who felt the punishment didn’t fit the crime. But the developer is sticking to its stance of keeping the attention on the game and not using politically-charged and divisive statements on air during official Blizzard events.