In response to Blizzard banning a professional Hearthstone player for making a political statement, Fortnite developer Epic Games has said that it will not ban players or content creators who make political statements. Talking to The Verge, a spokesperson for the company assured that “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.”
This past weekend, Hearthstone player Ng “Blitzchung” Wai Chung shared his support for the Hong Kong protestors during a post-game interview, shouting, “Liberate Hong Kong. Revolution of our age!” As a result, Blizzard banned him from competitive play for a year, withheld any prize money he would’ve received from the tournament this past weekend, and fired the interviewers.
Blizzard’s move was met with hefty backlash from angry fans across the Internet and even U.S. senators, who view their move as giving in to the Chinese Community Party. The company defended their decision in a statement, arguing that Blitzchung violated a competition rule that prohibits players from doing or saying anything that would cause conflict among the public or offend anyone.
Epic Games CEO Tim Sweeney also spoke out on Twitter, sharing The Verge article and stating that “Epic supports the rights of Fortnite players and creators to speak out about politics and human rights.” Sweeney later clarified, “China players of Fortnite are free to criticize the U.S. or criticize Epic just as equally as all others.”
When asked if Epic would do nothing in response to a popular Fortnite streamer saying “Free Hong Kong,” Sweeney said, “Exactly.”
Some worried about Epic’s shareholders, as Chinese company Tencent holds a 40% share in the company. Sweeney assured that “Epic is a US company,” and that nothing like Blizzard’s ban would ever “happen on [his] watch as a the founder, CEO, and controlling shareholder.”