Hearthstone Developer Blizzard Entertainment says it does not censor pro-Hong Kong news on its official Twitch channel. Today's reports indicate that the company locked up Hearthstone viewers during their Hearthstone Masters Tour broadcasts, but Blizzard insists that this is not the case of chat – not for posting a specific message Blizzard said. This becomes clear when looking at the Twitch chat. It is still being spammed with messages in support of Hong Kong. The Hearthstone Twitch channel, which is currently broadcasting a repeat of the Hearthstone Masters Tour in Bucharest, Romania, is also operated in Follow-Only mode. This moderation tool requires viewers to "follow" the channel on Twitch for two days before activating chat privileges.
We do not prohibit Twitch chat people who are specifically responsible for using pro-Hong Kong speeches or other political statements. Locks are imposed by an automated moderation system triggered by viewers who repeatedly send spam. We expect the problem to be resolved in the next few hours.
The $ 500,000 tournament runs until October 20th.
Blizzard is being criticized for suspending Hong Kong-based Hearthstone player Chung "Ng Wai after expressing his support for protesters in Hong Kong on an official Hearthstone broadcast. Chung appeared in the stream with a gas mask after winning his Hearthstone match, shouting, "Free Hong Kong, revolution of our time." There were also fired two Taiwanese casters who moderated the interview. A week later, the company reduced Chung's suspension to six months, gave back the money, and suspended the roles for six months.
Criticism comes from all angles – including from the company itself, from fans and legislators. United States Sens. Ron Wyden (D-OR) and Marco Rubio (R-FL) and MEPs Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY), Mike Gallagher (R-WI) and Tom Malinowski (D-NJ) announced Letter to Bobby Kotick, CEO of Activision Blizzard, on Friday requesting the company to reverse its decision. "We urge you to reconsider your decision regarding Mr. Chung," wrote the legislator.
All of this is happening as Blizzard prepares for the annual BlizzCon fan convention to be held in early November in Anaheim, California. People are already boycotting Blizzard games and planning protests for the convention weekend. Overwatch Held Mei, a Chinese climatologist, has also become a symbol of ongoing protests in Hong Kong, both online and in the region.