Blizzard employees staged a walkout over Hearthstone Grandmaster's suspension

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(Image credit: Standingwhk (Reddit))

Blizzard's harsh punishment (opens in new tab) of former Hearthstone Grandmaster Chung 'blitzchung' Ng Wai over his call for the liberation of Hong Kong caused a powerful backlash against the company. According to a Daily Beast (opens in new tab) report, some of that reaction has come from within the company itself, as a small number of employees walked out of work yesterday afternoon to protest its actions.

One employee who took part in the walkout said participation fluctuated between a dozen and 30 people over the course of the day, which represents a tiny fragment of the company's total workforce. But the employees gathered at Blizzard's famed Orc statue, a highly symbolic location—Overwatch director Jeff Kaplan said earlier this year that Blizzard personnel do a champagne toast (opens in new tab) in front of the statue whenever a game ships—that's within view of the executive offices.

"The action Blizzard took against the player was pretty appalling but not surprising," an employee told the site. "Blizzard makes a lot of money in China, but now the company is in this awkward position where we can’t abide by our values."

A purported photo of the walkout was posted to the Hearthstone subreddit (opens in new tab) yesterday by someone claiming to be a Blizzard employee. It's not confirmed that the image actually comes from the walkout, but it certainly looks the part: Roughly 20 people are visible around the statue, several of them holding umbrellas, a highly visible symbol of the Hong Kong protests (opens in new tab).

The walkout isn't the only way that Blizzard employees have used the Orc statue to express their displeasure with the company's "appeasement (opens in new tab)," as Hearthstone personality Brian Kibler put it earlier today, of Chinese authorities. Yesterday, employees covered up inscriptions on the statue saying "Think Globally" and "Every Voice Matters."

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I've reached out to Blizzard for comment on the walkout and will update if I receive a reply.

Andy has been gaming on PCs from the very beginning, starting as a youngster with text adventures and primitive action games on a cassette-based TRS80. From there he graduated to the glory days of Sierra Online adventures and Microprose sims, ran a local BBS, learned how to build PCs, and developed a longstanding love of RPGs, immersive sims, and shooters. He began writing videogame news in 2007 for The Escapist and somehow managed to avoid getting fired until 2014, when he joined the storied ranks of PC Gamer. He covers all aspects of the industry, from new game announcements and patch notes to legal disputes, Twitch beefs, esports, and Henry Cavill. Lots of Henry Cavill.