China takes a loss, lapdog Blizzard is still a problem

Blizzard apologized with their actions, but not their words. That’s… something.

Let me be very clear about what the words and actions mean before I dive into what I think of it all. China, via Blizzard, reduced the penalty, which is an admittance of a mistake made. China, via J Alan Brack and the clearly-translated letter, did not apologize in the statement that was put out on Friday night (the time you put out news you want to be ignored). I don’t work in PR, but I’m pretty sure this is not what a smart PR strategy looks like.

Here is the good news as I see it; Blitzchung’s actions, and the supportive reactions of Blizzard fans, caused China to back down. Regardless of how big or small the back-down was, showing any weakness is a major blow to an authoritative regime, and that’s exactly what happened here (along with the NBA backtrack). As I said before, one canceled sub of $15 alone isn’t going to change the world, and this one defeat for China isn’t suddenly going to shut down their interment camps. But it is a step, and even small steps are important.

Here is the bad news; everything Blizzard. It’s terrible that the president put his name on a Chinese’s government propaganda statement, especially one so poorly translated it looks almost intentionally embarrassing, as if China here is punishing Blizzard by not even attempting to hide the source of the wording, and trying to save some face by making it clear they still control Blizzard and tell them when to jump and how high.

It also means that actions against Blizzard must continue, because while China backed down, Blizzard has not, and remain in the same position as they held prior to this incident; beholden to China. The only way this changes is if being pro-China costs Blizzard more money than supporting them, and that only happens if non-China fans continue to hurt them in the only way corporations care; the wallet. (I won’t get into how much the Chinese market is actually worth to outside companies, but do some research; today its not nearly the goldmine you might think).

Like it or not the world now revolves around capitalist, and that means money and profit justify the decisions made by corporations. In some ways that sucks (not all ways btw), but those are the rules of the game we all play. This doesn’t however mean that corporate actions don’t have consequences. If tomorrow we find out that Blizzard is harvesting baby organs to produce games, that kind of bad PR hurts them financially, and is the reason they don’t do it, regardless of the morals. This is the reason twitter backlash actually matters; the bad PR in turn results in loss of revenue. There are countless examples of a company quickly changing course because they are negatively trending on twitter, so pretending bad PR doesn’t matter is foolish. I hate twitter and basically all social media, but again in the world we live in today, it matters and can make a difference.

I hope Blizcon is a disaster for Blizzard, and that the big news coming out of Blizcon is Hong Kong-related rather than the next Retail expansion or whatever was planned to be the big thing. Blizzard leadership at the top has to change (I suspect most employees are currently angry or at least embarrassed by the actions of the company they work for). They had a chance to do so here, and so far they have failed in spectacular fashion. I only hope that game fans, including those who like Blizzard products, continue to do the right thing and continue to push Blizzard to change. With enough pressure they will, as it will be the ‘right’ thing to do for their shareholders. Until then, the boycott continues.

About SynCaine

Former hardcore raider turned casual gamer.
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7 Responses to China takes a loss, lapdog Blizzard is still a problem

  1. Azuriel says:

    I thought the letter sounded like it was wrote by an HR student studying for the final exam, but your link does a better job explaining it. Like seriously, nobody cares (least of all Blizzard) about those mission statements, Brack. Why else were they included?

    In any case, the world has revolved around capitalism for decades (if not longer). What’s relatively new, or at least more visible, is what capitalism looks like when it’s not being led by the West. China is indeed not the promised goldmine anymore, but look how Brack gets twisted around Chinese fingers for… what, 5% of revenue? It’s chump change, but he and everyone knows that if revenues permanently dropped 5% that the shareholders would oust them the next day. Much better to just split the baby today and then pretend like they wouldn’t do it all over again the next time someone spoke out. The more enduring change here is going to be putting all streams on a time delay and cutting to car chases when something real happens, Fox-style.

    • SynCaine says:

      My hope from all this is that the 5% revenue from China is less than the lost revenue from players upset that Blizzard obeys China. Once that is a reality, magically Blizzard’s stance towards China will change, as will China’s power to dictate. But until that is a reality, we will continue to see people like Brack embarrass themselves and their name for the sake of china-based profit.

  2. NoGuff says:

    But what’s the end-game here? Is this more about Americans feeling like they have the market cornered on the “right to free-speech”, moreso than any other country of gamers?

    Sadly, as China demonstrates here, free speech is not only limited by the government, but in businesses and cultural applications across the board. Are we disagreeing with Blizzard because we disagree with China, or what? Do we fear that something so draconian can occur here in the US as well if companies like Blizzard continues to hide behind its rules/TOS and invoke them at will?

    The issue here is Globalization and how it effects cultures and lives abroad, outside of the host country’s realm of legality. How dare we tell China how they should treat their own citizens outside of Political channels. Blizzard has no reason to become a mediator or to get involved with any of this as a corporation outside of US territory. Now, if Blizzard decides to establish an office in China, and to operate under the tenants of Chinese doctrine, then more power to them I say.

    But right now, they aren’t. So shame on them for getting involved, and for the hamfisted way this was handled.

  3. Esteban says:

    The issue here is Globalization and how it effects cultures and lives abroad, outside of the host country’s realm of legality. How dare we tell China how they should treat their own citizens outside of Political channels.

    Their ‘own’ citizens? Are China’s citizens the property of the Chinese state? Do universal human rights stop at the water’s edge?

    I must say, that is an unexpected point of view, particularly from an American.

    • NoGuff says:

      Outside of Political channels is the key point here.

      American businesses and corporations have no business being involved with “universal human rights” when political mechanisms are in place within our own government by which to pressure foreign governments to make changes on that front. Let our elected officials be influenced by their constituents(which Blizzard is btw) to take action on this and other matters. If Blizzard were so worried about “human rights”, they would be better served by not being involved inside a country where all of these issues are present, and instead would be active on the Political front right here in the US in trying to affect changes abroad by pressuring their Political representatives to take action.

      If the major news outlets are as embroiled in this issue as is indicated, why doesn’t one of them simply ask Blizzard where they stand on human rights and other issues we find so important here in the US? Little, sound byte driven statements like “Every voice matters” and other placards of supposed genuineness are so vague they could mean anything. Without actually being on record with the public where they stand on these issues, anything they do abroad will be questioned – as is the case with this issue.

  4. There’s zero pressure. As more of China hits the middle class, that group will dwarf the US and most other countries in pure numbers and spending power. Companies will laugh at boycots that cost them $100million while their actions in China will bring in $300million. Why do we as the US always think we have so much power? :D

    • SynCaine says:

      Because currently the US does? Every single company, if forced, would rather sell in America over China, now and for some time to come. If/when the Chinese middle class actually does grow, and all the other china regulatory baggage is reduced, then it might be a conversation, but right now its not, so saying there is ‘zero pressure’ is a bit silly.

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