While the aftermath of Blizzard's punishment of a Hearthstone professional who expressed his support for Hong Kong protesters in a live interview continues, video game companies and sports organizations have warned players and staff not to release political statements on recent events.
Last night, League of Legends developer Riot, which belongs to Chinese technology giant Tencent, issued a statement reminding its casters and professional players that they had none of these issues on air.
"Our decision also reflects that we have employees and fans of Riot in regions where there has been (or is a risk) political and / or social unrest, including places like Hong Kong," said John Needham, the world leader from League of Legends, said in a statement posted on Twitter.
"We believe we have a responsibility to do our best to ensure that statements or actions on our official platforms (intentional or otherwise) do not escalate potentially sensitive situations."
A message from John Needham, the global leader of League of Legends Esports pic.twitter.com/5Au9rE7T86
– Lolesports (@ Lolesports) October 11, 2019
The statement from Riot comes when the League of Legends World Cup 2019 comes to Berlin, where the group stage of the tournament will take place. Here teams from all over the world compete against each other in the MOBA. Hong Kong is represented by Hong Kong Attitude. China has three teams: Invictus Gaming, FunPlus Phoenix and Royal Never Give Up. Represented Taiwan are J Team and ahq e-Sports Club.
Meanwhile, ESL, the CEO of the world's largest esports company, warned employees against discussing the protests in Hong Kong on its social platforms.
According to the Hong Kong Free Press, co-founder and co-founder of ESL, Ralf Reichert, sent a message to more than 700 employees of the German-based company, which referred to recent events. In it, Reichert said: "As a globally active company in many countries of the world, of course, we renounce political discussions and give the best example by living our values.
"Therefore we would like to suggest that you do not participate actively in the discussion, especially in the social media."
As HKFP notes, ESL announced in September that it will partner with Huya, a Chinese streaming service supported by Tencent. An ESL spokesperson helped to emphasize that ESL employees are free to express their personal views on private social media accounts.
Unlike Riot and ESL, Fortnite maker Epic Games, part of Tencent, can voice its opinion.
"Epic supports the right of everyone to express their views on politics and human rights," Epic said in a statement to The Verge. "We would not ban or punish a Fortnite player or content creator for talking about these issues."
The testimony comes after a turbulent week for the videogame industry, where Blizzard was targeted by fans, politicians and even his own staff for severely punishing a pro-Hearthstone player who supported demonstrators in Hong Kong in a live match -Interview.
The interview sparked a chain reaction currently being carried out by video game companies doing business in China. China's importance to the financial success of Western publishers is clear. The question now is how long before the next protest and perhaps inevitably before the next ban?