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Members of Congress Criticize Blizzard Over Hearthstone Player's Ban

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A letter condemning Blizzard's decision to ban Hearthstone player Blitzchung after he made a pro-Hong Kong statement on an official broadcast has been issued by five US Members of Congress. In a bipartisan effort, the five Senators and Congressmen signed a letter written by Oregon Senator Ron Wyden urges Activision CEO Bobby Kotick to reconsider his company's recent actions. Wyden accuses Blizzard of giving in to Beijing's demands in order to preserve market access, to the detriment of freedom of speech and thought.

The letter starts by stating the United States' views regarding the Chinese government, attesting that it "uses the strength and size of its economy to suppress opinions with which it disagrees." As evidence, the letter points to two events from the past week. The first being the Chinese government targeting Apple over an app in its store that Hong Kong protestors were using for organization purposes. The second being the attempted suppression of pro-Hong Kong sentiment from NBA team GM Daryl Morey.

RELATED: Suspended Hearthstone Player Blitzchung Responds to Blizzard's Decision

From there, the letter focuses on the issue at hand, that being whether Blizzard was acting due to pressure from the Chinese government. It references how Blizzard's own employees staged a walkout over Blizzard's actions, showing that even those within Blizzard see the company's actions as counter to the values of free speech. It also references the growing number of Blizzard fans calling for boycotts of Activision Blizzard.

The letter then builds to the crux of the issue. "Because your company is such a pillar of the gaming industry, your disappointing decision could have a chilling effect on gamers who seek to use their platform to promote  human rights and basic freedoms." A line is then drawn in the sand by Wyden, stating, "As China amplifies its campaign of intimidation, you and your company must decide to look beyond the bottom line and promote American values ... or to give in to Beijing's demands in order to preserve market access."

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It should be noted that the letter does contain a mistake. The letter refers to Blizzard's decision to ban Blitzchung for a full year and that his prize money would be forfeit. However, Blizzard has since adjusted its punishment, reinstating Blitzchung's prize money and reducing his suspension to six months. It's perhaps possible that the letter was written prior to Blizzard's change in plans and that gathering the signatures led to a delayed mailing.

Wyden's letter is signed by five Members of Congress, including two Senators and three congressmen, in total. The signees include Ron Wyden, Senator of Oregon, Marco Rubio, Senator of Florida, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Congresswoman of New York, Mike Gallagher, Congressman of Wisconsin, and Tom Malinowski, Congressman of New Jersey.

MORE: Timeline of the Blizzard-Hong Kong Controversy

Source: Senate.gov

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