To say it’s been a crazy week for Blizzard would be an understatement. Without getting bogged down in the details, the company is essentially trying to toe the line between its Chinese audience and American audience after banning a Hearthstone competitor for making a pro-Hong Kong statement. It’s a delicate subject and one that isn’t likely to be resolved anytime soon. People around the globe are looking for ways to show their support, no matter what form that may take or how small it may seem. Ever since the banning of Chung "blitzchung" Ng Wai, there has been a clear path for gamers who wish to show their support — boycott Blizzard.
This seems like a logical tactic. Blizzard bans a pro-Hong Kong player, so gamers protest Blizzard. Unfortunately, things aren’t that simple. It’s recently come to light that many workers at Blizzard disagree with the events that transpired. Perhaps a few high-level executives made a decision that the rest of the employees simply did not approve of. Now, they’re all suffering the consequences.
What’s more, is that many people on the internet are proposing that gamers should start playing games from companies that are even worse than Blizzard. Several forums around the web have suggested that people stop playing Heroes of the Storm (Blizzard’s MOBA) and play League of Legends instead. However, League of Legends is owned by Tencent — a company that is certainly not sympathetic to the fight of the Hong Kong citizens.
League of Legends was developed by Riot Games, a company that has been involved in sexual harassment scandals and has been accused of underpaying employees. That alone should give you pause before you switch from a Blizzard game to a Riot Games title. However, Riot Games has recently been purchased by Tencent, a massive company from China that has its hand in nearly everything - and when we say everything, we're only exaggerating by a bit. It contributed $150 million to Reddit. It is involved in the largest mobile MOBA Honor of Kings/Arena of Valor. It's played a role in porting PUBG to mobile devices. It's acquired Supercell, creator of Clash of Clans and Clash of Kings. Tencent has a 40% stake in Epic Games, including Fortnite - and that’s only the beginning of it. If you want to see all of the products it is behind, check out this official list.
No matter what it owns, it is not sympathetic towards the Hong Kong people, and playing its games — such as League of Legends — is a terrible way to boycott Blizzard. In fact, Tencent recently pulled its ties with the NBA after an executive made a pro-Hong Kong statement. If you want to protest Blizzard, try looking at Dota 2 instead of League of Legends.
Playing another game to boycott Blizzard makes sense, but playing a game owned by a worse company doesn’t. Players need to do their research before jumping ship, as there are tons of companies less ethical than Blizzard. As a global industry that pulls in billions each year, the world of gaming is a complex web of developer/publisher interactions. If you’re serious about showing solidarity with Hong Kong through your gaming habits, you’ve got some research to do.