Esports industry faces criticism amid Hong Kong protests
With Tencent reportedly having ownership stakes in several major video game publishers, esports also has some vulnerability to getting caught up in Chinese political issues.
That was underscored last week when Blizzard Entertainment, a subsidiary of Activision Blizzard, suspended Hong Kong-based player Chung “Blitzchung” Ng Wai in the esports league for its Hearthstone game because he said “Liberate Hong Kong” during a postgame interview. His prize money was rescinded and he has been suspended from competitive play for a year.
The action led to criticism from people within and outside the gaming industry, including calls to boycott Blizzard’s games and leagues. Tencent owns a 5% stake in Activision Blizzard, according to PCGamer.com.
Rival game publisher Epic Games later last week told TheVerge.com that it would not suspend players in its competitions for expressing political sentiments. But Epic, too, is partially owned by Tencent, which has a 40% stake in the company, according to PCGamer.
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