After Blizzard made its controversial decision to ban Ng Wai Chung, better known by his Hearthstone esports handle as Blitzchung, the internet rose up in protest, and now one of the developer’s own characters is being used against it. Mei-Ling Zhou, a fictional Chinese character from Blizzard’s Overwatch, is being reimagined as a pro-Hong-Kong supporter, and Blizzard may now be in over its head.
After Blitzchung made his brief statement in support of the liberation of Hong Kong, Blizzard moved to ban the player for a year, confiscated his tournament winnings from the past seven weeks of competition, and fired the two commentators tasked with interviewing him remotely. Since then, the outpour of support for his statement and condemnation of Blizzard has been non-stop, and Mei is appearing in forums and tweets through several drawings or photoshopped edits, showing that she also supports the Hong Kong movements.
The leaked 2019 Halloween skins for Mei look interesting pic.twitter.com/Gy6zZD2LBW— Hoshi #Blizzardboycott (@HoshizoraOW) October 9, 2019
The image is troublesome for Blizzard in several ways. If Mei becomes synonymous with the Hong Kong resistance, there is a chance that Overwatch will be banned inside China and Blizzard certainly wants that market share.
Will Blizzard double down on its censorship and do everything it can to disassociate itself from this reimagining of Mei? Doing so may salvage its commercial opportunities in China, and at the same time, bury it in the West and elsewhere.
Either way, Blizzard will need to address this issue soon. Reactions online appear unanimous to boycott all Blizzard games, both in the future and presently. However, Blizzard may already be too entrenched with Chinese partners to do anything but bow to the demands of their government.
Diablo Immortal is Blizzard’s next big title that it hopes to cash in on, despite being a mobile-only release, much to the irritation of its long-time player base. The game is being developed almost entirely by NetEase, a Chinese technology company, and is surely part of a larger plan to capture sales in the Chinese market. If Blizzard cannot contain this issue with Mei and Overwatch, is there a possibility that its other games might be banned, such as the Diablo series?
It is too early to know for sure, but there is no doubt that Blizzard’s moves over the coming weeks will be closely scrutinized, and unfortunately for it, this has also occurred less than a month before BlizzCon 2019.
Source: Euro Gamer