Never a more fitting name
I always found it an interesting quirk of the English language to shorten the word convention into con, which can also be read as the word meaning a scheme to defraud people. In 2019 the two readings merged together in the Blizzard Entertainment convention, or Blizzcon for short. And what a con it was.
There is no need to repeat the fact that Activision-Blizzard banned a Hearthstone player for expressing support for the Hong Kong protests, along with destroying the careers of the two casters that allowed him to do so. There is no need, but I feel like we should keep it in mind. Activision-Blizzard did this to appease the Chinese government, an authoritarian regime that is curtailing basic human rights for minorities, occupies a sovereign nation and is all around corrupt. Again, something to remember.
Thus this year’s Blizzcon was put under the shadow of the Hong Kong protests and the Chinese government’s overreach in silencing western voices supporting said protests. Thankfully some real gamers and activists organized to protest the convention throughout the weekend, but overall they were not successful in stopping gaming news outlets from throwing themselves at Activision-Blizzard’s feet in printing non apologies and soft ball interviews while rushing to regurgitate the public relations spiel that the entire convention is set around.
I am not going to reprint the obvious lies that Blizzard Entertainment’s president, who is a fascist bootlicker and thus dubbed fascist bootlicker #13581234 in this piece, spouted in his commencement speech and subsequent interviews. Repeating the lie, even to debunk it, merely strengthens it as it disseminates it to the greater public. Instead I will simply distill the central claims and explain just how moronic they truly are.
There are three main points in fascist bootlicker #13581234’s babble: Activision-Blizzard apologizes for getting caught suppressing free speech, Activision-Blizzard supports free speech so long as it advertises its product and Activision-Blizzard would like you all to shut the fuck up about Hong Kong. These are the main takeaways.
The first is quite clear. Fascist bootlicker #13581234 droned on and on about how much bad Activision-Blizzard were in handling the entire affair and how “sorry” they were. Not sorry enough to unban Blitzchung and restore the casters, mind you, just sorry everyone made a stink about it. What really stuck out for me was the fact he called Activision-Blizzard’s actions “hasty” in banning and “slow” in explaining the reasons for the ban. Now call me crazy but a multinational corporation with thousands of employees and dedicated community managers takes two(!) full days before banning a player for advocating for basic human rights sounds quite on the slow side for me. As a discord server moderator I’d be remiss not to ban people within 12 hours of committing an offense, and I’m quite lazy.
Of course you can chuck it to Activision-Blizzard having fired 800 employees, many of them in the community management department, earlier this year. They then re-listed the positions to hire cheaper labor who wouldn’t be getting benefits and pay raises associated with veterancy. Classy.
As part of the apology, fascist bootlicker #13581234 threw their Chinese partners under the bus, saying the propaganda post in Chinese social media was unauthorized by the main office. This is an old trick of business partners pretending to disagree and publicly feud in order to appease their respective audiences. The Chinese company gets to be patriotic and Activision-Blizzard gets to pretend to western audiences that it doesn’t support the message.
If Activision-Blizzard really didn’t agree with it, fascist bootlicker #13581234 could have asked the message to be rescinded and the Chinese company apologize for acting without Activision-Blizzard’s permission but it didn’t, and it wasn’t. This is quite evident through both companies’ actions. The fact is, Blitzchung and the casters are still banned and that is all the evidence you need for Activision-Blizzard’s tacit approval of the post.
The second point regards the principle of freedom speech which is so enshrined in Activision-Blizzard’s conduct that they banned a player for using it. Now, fascist bootlicker #13581234 was quick to hide behind technical legalities when broaching the subject. Blitzchung technically broke the tournament rules by doing the unthinkable of using videogame tournaments to advocate for basic human rights rather than the consumption of more product. Quite the sin in the eyes of a corporation only interested in the bottom line. Worse, these human rights clashed with the opportunity to make money from the lucrative Chinese market so…
I’ll admit that breaking rules and guidelines should carry repercussions and not all speech should be tolerated BUT, and it is a huge but, advocating for basic human rights is the kind of rule infringement you gloss over. Sure, in the most literal interpretation of the law a felony was committed and punishment must be meted out but we don’t live in fucking ivory towers but in the grimey reality filled with grey areas and human rights abuses. I mean, come on, how much of a coward must you be to hide behind the technicality of rules and guidelines that you yourself write and change all the time!?
This of course side steps the bigger issue in which claiming neutrality or enforcing rules that help silence protest against an authoritarian regime is aiding that regime. That is the truth fascist bootlicker #13581234 obfuscated with his shameless rhetoric. The fact still stands that Activision-Blizzard aided an authoritarian regime to silence protest of said regime. No amount of empty platitudes and legalese can distract from that fact.
Which leads us to the last point. Activision-Blizzard tried to downplay the entire affair because in reality it needs the Chinese market. The company, like any major corporation in late stage capitalism, needs to continuously grow its bottom line or investors pull out, causing the stock to crash and heads to roll, often those of senior management who already amassed a fortune (woe to them /s). Chasing those profits, it will and have partnered with despotic regimes for the sole purpose of increasing revenue. Cost benefit evaluations found that principles get in the way of making profits and moral stances don’t really help grow a consumer base.
I used the word consumer because that is what it looks for. People to buy its products. The sin of Blitzchung in the company’s eyes was to jeopardize the growth of said consumer base by blacklisting the company from a huge untapped market. Thus he was made an example of. This is also why Activision-Blizzard pulled all the stops and showcased Diablo IV and Overwatch II, hoping to dazzle its consumers and the gaming press into reporting on these announcements alongside the non apology rather than the protests outside of the convention, and it worked.
Which is the con. The entire event was nothing short of a marketing ploy to sell product to people who, truth be told, are nothing if not die hard fans who tie their identity to the product. They were marks looking to be scammed and fascist bootlicker #13581234 provided. He gave all the empty words to assuage their guilt as they shelled out the money to participate in a hype machine that sees them in the most dehumanizing terms; Whales, dolphins, targets. Not people, not thinking, feeling human beings. Just product to be squeezed for cash and sold to investors as revenue potential.
Some dissented. Shouting here and there for Hong Kong’s protest. More stood outside the convention center and protested. Too few. The vast majority bought the snake oil fascist bootlicker #13581234 was selling them so they may consume product for the sake of consuming product. If it wasn’t so tragic it would have been funny.
That is the rub. The entire convention is manufactured hype created by public relation ghouls to generate “buzz” for the product so that idiots would buy it, oblivious to the many many failings of modern Blizzard Entertainment as a developer. It has to be said that it was also insulting in its announcements considering Diablo IV was already confirmed nearly a year ago after the previous debacle (do you not have phones!?) and Overwatch II is a sequel to a flagging game that is already fading from public perception, replaced by a trendy game that is destined itself to be replaced by some other vacuous creation.
The fans of course ate it up, and why wouldn’t they. After all, they are fans and as I wrote before, nothing more terrible exists than a videogame fan.
All in all Blizzcon 2019 was exactly what I thought it would be, and what everyone else should have expected – a non event. A complete waste of time and resources for everyone involved. Morons cheered for information they already had, conscientious people tried to remind soulless consumers of possessing an actual heart and fascist bootlickers lied and hid behind legal technicalities. Even writing this article is a waste of my own time.
That said writing this article I was reminded of when Blizzard Entertainment helped United States law enforcement agencies in tracking down criminals through their World of Warcraft logins. I hope the idiots that keep supporting Activision-Blizzard remember this the next time they make a joke about China or Xi Jinping. Wouldn’t want to lose those Battlenet accounts. Not that it matters to me because I already deleted mine so I can call Xi Jinping a fat miserable fuck who has a small knob which is why he feels the need to oppress his subjects. Also that he looks like Winnie the Pooh.