Epic CEO Tim Sweeney says that so long as he's CEO, Epic will never take action against protestors expressing support for Hong Kong independence.
We don’t normally see a lot of world politics making its way into gaming, but ever since Blizzard banned a professional Hearthstone player for expressing his support of a free Hong Kong, it’s basically the only thing gamers are talking about on social media.
As a quick recap, earlier this week Blizzard banned Blitzchung for one year after he briefly offered his support for Hong Kong protestors fighting against Chinese autocracy. Not only did they ban him, but they also took back his $10,000 prize winnings from the tournament and then fired two commentators who interviewed him.
If that seems a little heavy-handed and that Blizzard is tacitly supporting a brutal dictatorship that is (allegedly) ripping the organs out of its own citizens to sell on the open market, congratulations! You’re a decent human being. You’re also one of the many millions of people who have come down hard on Blizzard for their response.
But it wasn’t just US Senators that came down on Blizzard. Epic CEO Tim Sweeney also threw his hat into the ring by saying that he would never allow Epic to take such punitive action against a professional Fortnite player just for expressing their opinion on China.
Epic supports the rights of Fortnite players and creators to speak about politics and human rights.https://t.co/GWxDjKVjeJ— Tim Sweeney (@TimSweeneyEpic) October 9, 2019
Which is an odd thing to hear considering Epic Games is 40% owned by a massive Chinese gaming conglomerate called Tencent. Epic is still trying to break into the Chinese market with Fortnite Mobile, and yet Sweeney was confident enough to express his tacit support for free speech and a free Hong Kong.
Stranger still when you consider that Activision Blizzard is just 5% owned by Tencent and that was apparently enough to go absolutely insane after a single Hearthstone player mentioned Hong Kong once in an interview.
Twitter users were also incredulous, but Sweeney stood firm in his convictions even when people pointed out that his company is 40% Chinese-owned.
Yes, absolutely. That will never happen on my watch as the founder, CEO, and controlling shareholder.— Tim Sweeney (@TimSweeneyEpic) October 9, 2019
Redditors were more skeptical, with comments on a recent post expressing a “wait and see” attitude. With Sweeney’s public remarks, we might not have to wait long for a response from his Chinese shareholders.