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Home / Business / BlizzCon 2019: After Blizzard apologizes, players are still not sure whether to buy Blizzard games

BlizzCon 2019: After Blizzard apologizes, players are still not sure whether to buy Blizzard games



Although the company just announced a new shooter and more extensions to the nostalgic franchises, including "World of Warcraft" and "Hearthstone", some players say they are hesitant to give the company their time and money.

The US company has come under fire after banning Hong Kong player Ng "Blitzchung" Wai Chung in October for calling out the popular protest slogan "Liberate Hong Kong, revolution of our times" during a live-streaming post-match interview . Blizzard ( ATVI ) said that the action violated the competition rules because it led the player to "public dislike," offended the audience and damaged Blizzard's image. Ng was initially stripped of its potential winnings and banned from competing for the next year.
The company's president apologized Friday. "We moved too quickly in our decision and to make matters worse, we were too slow to talk to you all," President J. Allen Brack said at the kick-off event on Friday. "I'm sorry and I accept responsibility."

But many spectators, attending the annual BlizzCon Game Conference in Anaheim, California, or tuning in online, said it wasn't enough.

  Protesters show up on Saturday outside the BlizzCon event in Anaheim, California.

"The excuse Blizzard made was absolute PR damage control," said Fadel Ragheb, 23, a Montreal player, streamer and podcast who tuned in to the event online. "Having the CEO on stage and expecting everyone to get over it by saying 'sorry' and then showing a game trailer for 'Diablo IV' shows how much they want to bury the story, instead of tackling it head on and trying to Fixing its image. "

Mass protests in Hong Kong, which began five months ago over a controversial China extradition law, have grown into more violent demonstrations over fears surrounding Beijing's tightening grip on the important economic hub. China denies the charge.

The protests have been a thorn on the part of China and have broken many Western companies, including the NBA. Some players believe Blizzard's grip on punishing Ng was an attack on free speech and a bow for China. Blizzard has said that interests in China did not influence the decision to ban Blitzchung, but players are still skeptical.

"I don't see any legitimate change happening in the future. It sounds like they hope people won't pay attention to the language used, and will just forget it," said Eli Jackson, 27, a player working as manager at a Las Vegas shipping company that was also tuned online.

Blizzard did not immediately respond to a request for comment from CNN Business on Saturday.

  Protesters hand out free shirts outside BlizzCon, in Anaheim, California, on Friday.

Many protesters also showed up on Saturday outside BlizzCon after attending events on Friday. They handed out thousands of t-shirts to attendees both days. Some wore shirts that protested Blizzard or expressed a pro-Hong Kong attitude.

On Friday, US college student and sports player Torin Wright, 19, shared a poem he had written earlier in the summer when the Hong Kong protests went up. "The wound from your massacre, wading into rough swamps, lurking at the touch of childhood," he read.

He told CNN Business Saturday, "I chose to read it instead of my speech because I felt it was a great way to show how people's different passions can be expressed in free speech."

Charles Lam, 46, a protester with the nonprofit Hong Kong Forum, Los Angeles said: "Blizzard is not in the political thinking business. I hate to see the company get drawn into it."

  Protesters stand outside BlizzCon in Anaheim, California on Friday.

The dissatisfaction with Blizzard's answer can re-sell for sale, some players said.

Blizzcon participant Andrew Kane, 32, a game developer who has been in the business for 9 years, said he and his three friends were thinking of delaying their purchase of new Blizzard games until the company resolved the issue.

But other players think the extended fallout will be minimal.

"Unfortunately, it would be very uncharacteristic for the gaming community to stick to their guns on this issue for a long period of time," Jackson, of Las Vegas, said. "Players are largely consumers first and foremost, so game announcements and trailers are like dangling a shiny object in front of a cat."

Nomura Instinet analyst Andrew Morocco told CNN Business, "There are certainly a number of players who feel very strongly about this issue, but we think it's a relatively small part of Blizzard's total player base. From a business perspective, we believe the company's Emphasis will continue to be on producing high quality games, and that is what will bring results. "


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