The creators of Fortnite, Epic Games, spoke to The Verge regarding their stance on the situation involving Blizzard, Hearthstone, and Hong Kong. The developer declared that they would not punish players or community members for speaking their minds. “Epic supports everyone’s right to express their views on politics and human rights. We wouldn’t ban or punish a Fortnite player or content creator for speaking on these topics,” an Epic Games spokesperson told The Verge. This is relevant as Tencent, a Chinese gaming company, owns 40 percent of Epic Games. On the other hand, Tencent only owns about 5 percent of Blizzard.
Tim Sweeney is the founder and leader of Epic Games. He felt it was necessary to share his own thoughts on the situation on Twitter. First, Sweeney shared The Verge article with the official statement from Epic Games. Then he proceeded to engage with people on Twitter. The CEO believes that everyone should be able to speak freely. He tweeted back to a disgruntled social media goer, “I support your right to criticize me, to criticize the US, and to criticize Epic. I believe that open discussion and argument about these topics helps everyone to reach a common understanding of views.”
For Fortnite players, fans, and creators, statements like these show that Epic Games support the right of free speech. They understand the dynamics of the company’s ownership but will not let it affect their policies and beliefs. Ultimately, the gaming developer has yet to run into a situation similar to the Hearthstone and Blizzard one. They are likely to be tested in the coming days as the Chinese government continues to crack down and censor anti-Chinese statements.
As previously reported, Blizzard suspended and revoke a player’s winnings following post-game statements. Chung “Blitzchung” Ng Wai is the player that started this situation by supporting the Hong Kong protests. He wore a gas mask and goggles during his interview. Then he proceeded to shout “Liberate Hong Kong!” on the live stream. The stream quickly cut away from the player. Both the player and interviewers were suspended.
Blizzard drew enormous backlash following the suspension of Blitzchung. Many gamers called for a protest on the gaming company. Blizzard owns titles such as World of Warcraft, Overwatch, and many more. They are likely to take a financial hit, but the size or significance is still unknown. Now, Blizzard must be searching for answers to quell the frustration of both players and employees.
Taylor Yates is a gamer, sports lover, and content creator. He has been an avid gamer since the days of Call of Duty: Modern Warfare and Halo 3. Taylor now plays Fortnite under the name ‘sombodysgun’ and loves to share his gameplay. A recent NC State grad, Taylor loves to support his Wolfpack and other sports teams.