Epic Games, the creators of Fortnite and owners of the rising PC marketplace known as the Epic Games Store, has issued a statement to say it won’t ban its players or content creators based on their political views. This statement follows an opposing stance Blizzard has taken this week when the Overwatch creator banned a pro Hearthstone player who voiced their support for the liberation of Hong Kong while also stripping them of their earned prize money.
The Verge reached out to Epic Games and received a statement that gives an idea of how the company would handle a situation like the one Blizzard currently finds itself embroiled in. Epic Games told The Verge it “wouldn’t ban or punish” members of its community for voicing their opinions on politics and human rights.
“Epic supports everyone’s right to express their views on politics and human rights,” Epic Games told The Verge. “We wouldn’t ban or punish a Fortnite player or content creator for speaking on these topics.”
Epic Games founder and CEO Tim Sweeney echoed the sentiment found in this statement by responding on Twitter to reaffirm Epic Games’ stance in situations like Blizzard’s. Someone provided a “What if?” example and asked what would happen if a Fortnite streamer like Turner “Tfue” Tenney said “Free Hong Kong” during a post-game interview. Sweeney confirmed that Epic Games would not take any action against the player.
The reason why statements like these are now even necessary stems from the comments from pro Hearthstone player Ng "Blitzchung" Wai Chung who voiced support for Hong Kong during a post-game interview. Blizzard responded to these comments by saying the player violated the rules in place within Hearthstone’s competitive scene. The punishment for those violations included a removal from the Grandmasters competition, a rescinding of the player’s earned prize money, and a yearlong ban from Hearthstone esports.1comments
“Effective immediately, Blitzchung is removed from Grandmasters and will receive no prizing for Grandmasters Season 2,” Blizzard’s statement said. “Additionally, Blitzchung is ineligible to participate in Hearthstone esports for 12 months beginning from Oct. 5th, 2019 and extending to Oct. 5th, 2020. We will also immediately cease working with both casters.”
Responses have come quickly and frequently following Blizzard’s actions. People have been speaking out against the decision while players of games like World of Warcraft and others have shown themselves cancelling subscriptions or returning products. Blizzard’s annual BlizzCon gathering is coming up soon on November 1st, and it’s hard to imagine a situation where this controversy doesn’t make an appearance there.