A bipartisan group of US legislators has authored a letter to Activision Blizzard CEO Bobby Kotick, asking him to reconsider the decision to temporarily ban a professional Hearthstone player for speaking in support of protests in Hong Kong.
The letter, signed by senators Ron Wyden (D-OR) and Marco Rubio (R-FL), and members of Congress Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY), Michael Gallagher (R-WI), and Tom Malinowski (D-NJ), expresses concern over the ban of Chung 'Blitzchung' Ng Wai from professional Hearthstone competitions "in light of the Chinese government's growing appetite for pressuring American business to help stifle free speech."
Although the legislators make reference to Blitzchung forfeiting prize money and being banned for a year, Blizzard said a week ago that it would give him the money after all and reduced the ban to half a year.
"Because your company is such a pillar of the gaming industry, your disappointing decision could have a chilling effect on gamers who seek to use their platform to promote human rights and basic freedoms," one segment of the letter reads. "Indeed, many gamers around the world have taken notice of your company's actions, understandably calling for boycotts of Activision Blizzard gaming sites.
"As China amplifies its campaign of intimidation, you and your company must decide whether to look beyond the bottom line and promote American values--like freedom of speech and thought--or to give in to Beijing's demands in order to preserve market access. We urge you in the strongest terms to reconsider your decision with respect to Mr. Chung. You have the opportunity to reverse course. We urge you to take it."
Blizzard initially banned Ng Wai from competitive Hearthstone for 12 months and stripped him of his Hearthstone Grandmasters prize money earlier this month after he shouted, "Liberate Hong Kong, revolution of our age!" in a broadcast post-match interview. The company also cut ties with two interviewers on camera at the time.