Activision-Blizzard has made some pretty unpopular moves lately, garnering a negative perception by the general gaming audience for it's handling of Hearthstone pro player Blitzchung's ban from the card game over a pro-Hong Kong protest. The company has become unpopular enough to earn a brutal roast at the Golden Joystick Awards, one of gaming's longest-running award shows.
The takedown came from Danny Wallace, the host of the Golden Joysticks. After addressing those present during a segment of the show, Wallace said, "The guys from Activision-Blizzard would've joined us for lunch, but their new contracts state they're only allowed Chinese food now." The comment drew some laughter from the crowd, along with a healthy dose of "oooooh's". Needless to say, it's a pretty brutal roast for a video game award show.
Activision-Blizzard has had trouble defending its position lately. Blizzard opened this year's Blizzcon with a big apology regarding the Blitzchung situation but refused to rescind the player's punishment. Many fans have blamed the company's ties to China, with the market making up a significant portion of the company's overall revenue. Activision-Blizzard has denied that this is the case, but that denial has done little to halt criticism's online.
Even some Blizzard employees have protested the move. Most recently, Overwatch Game Director Jeff Kaplan stated that he believed Blitzchung's punishment should be removed or reduced, which many fans seem to agree with. The entire debacle was a pretty massive distraction during Blizzcon, with protests taking place right outside the convention and fans disrupting some panels with chants of "Free Hong Kong!"
This isn't the first time that Activision-Blizzard has faced public ridicule and criticism. Even US politicians have criticized Activision-Blizzard's handling of the situation, which is pretty extreme, considering it's a move not often seen in the games industry outside of criticism for video game violence.
Activision-Blizzard will still have quite a ways to go before it can expect jokes like Wallace's to stop being made. As a major publisher, it regularly finds itself as the subject of criticism, especially as anti-lootbox sentiment continues to increase in the games industry. The internet never forgives, and never forgets.