Last week professional Hearthstone player Chung “Blitzchung” Ng Wai, who is from Hong Kong, said, “Liberate Hong Kong, revolution of our time,” following a tournament win in Taiwan. The phrase is associated with the current ongoing protests in Hong Kong, and Blitzchung wore a gas mask similar to the types of masks worn by protesters.
The live feed was swiftly cut off (with casters ducking their heads), and the video was pulled. Within days Blizzard announced that Blitzchung violated the rules. They stripped him of his tournament winnings and banned him for a year. The casters were also fired.
The following was included in Blizzard’s official statement: “While we stand by one’s right to express individual thoughts and opinions, players and other participants that elect to participate in our esports competitions must abide by the official competition rules.”
The result has been a public relations disaster for Blizzard Entertainment. Many critics view it as bowing down to the censure-happy Chinese government, and the fact that Chinese media conglomerate Tencent owns a sizable 5% stake in the company. Fans, players, and even professional casters have performed protests or severed ties with Blizzard in response.
To try and put out the fires, J. Allen Brack, President of Blizzard Entertainment, issued another statement last Friday afternoon, attempting to clarify their position. Blizzard shortened Blitzchung’s ban from one year to six months, returned his prize money, and gave the casters a six month ban.
“Moving forward, we will continue to apply tournament rules to ensure our official broadcasts remain focused on the game and are not a platform for divisive social or political views.
One of our goals at Blizzard is to make sure that every player, everywhere in the world, regardless of political views, religious beliefs, race, gender, or any other consideration always feels safe and welcome both competing in and playing our games.”
Blitzchung also put out a statement, which included the following: “Thank you for your attention in the past week […]. I’m grateful for Blizzard reconsidering their position about my ban. I told media that I knew I might have penalty or consequence for my act, because I understand that my act could take the convention away from the purpose of the event. In the future I will be more careful on that and express my opinion s or show my support to Hong Kong on my personal platforms.”
The PR fallout for Blizzard continues, as well as a wider discussion of how much the Chinese government influences many major companies around the world.
Black Friday has become a bit of a misnomer, as the formerly one-day sale event has not only extended though the weekend, but now into Thanksgiving week itself. The gaming sales are some of the best you”ll find all year.
Arm yourself with which games to go after from our Holiday Gift Guide, then check below for the best deals from publishers and retailers.
Note that most sales run through the weekend and include Cyber Monday. Also note that we’re skipping an Amazon section with the caveat that you should always check Amazon for everything you’re interested in, in case it’s on a timed Lightning Deal.
GameStop is offering a $50 Gift Card when purchasing new consoles. That includes Switch, Xbox One, and PlayStation 4 (though not the spiffy new PS4 Spider-Man bundle).
You can get some crazy good deals on games, even recent games that just released earlier this year, like God of War ($17), Assassin’s Creed Odyssey ($27), and Starlink: Battle for Atlas ($39).
If you want to clean up on older titles, you can take advantage of their Buy 2 Get 1 Free sale on last gen used games, including Wii U, 3DS, and Xbox 360.
If you want to avoid the crowds, you can get Free Shipping on orders over $35.
There are a number of Switch bundles to choose from, including Diablo 3, Pokémon Let’s Go, and Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, though none of them save you any money, save one. The Mario Kart Switch bundle may be one of the single hottest selling items this holiday season, as it includes a fantastic game (Mario Kart 8) for the same price as a Switch. You can find it at Target, Best Buy, Warlmart, GameStop, and Amazon.
A nice 2DS deal is also available that includes Super Mario Maker for $80. It plays all 3DS games, which is an amazing library, though Nintendo has all but discontinued it with the Switch’s arrival.
The Nintendo eShop has a nice sale though next Wednesday (11/28) if you’re looking to clean up on Switch games, especially indie games. Skyrim ($30), Monster Hunter Generations Ultimate ($44), Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle ($24), and Valkyria Chronicles 4 ($30) are among the best deals.
If you’re looking to get a regular PlayStation 4, the Spider-Man bundle is the best deal around ($200), and you’ll find it at most retailers, and could easily be the second hottest holiday gaming item after the Switch Mario Kart bundle.
If you have a PS4 this may also be a good year for jumping into VR with the PlayStation VR Bundle, which includes two of the best VR games, Astro Bot and Moss, for $200.
If you play games online you’ll want to take advantage of the sale on a year’s worth of PlayStation Plus, currently just $40, a $20 savings.
You’ll find plenty of deals on games on the PlayStation Store as well, though none quite as impressive as GameStop’s so far.
The Minecraft bundle is a solid gift for younger gamers, and comes in at the very attractive price of $200. Microsoft is heavily invested in its Game Pass program, a sort of Netflix for games, and you can one month’s worth for only $1. The Game Pass sale actually lasts throughout the end of the year, making it a no-brainer for anyone getting an Xbox One this holiday season.
You can save up to 65% on Xbox Games in the Windows 10 and Xbox stores, and Xbox Live Gold members can save an additional 10%.
PC gamers always have Steam to rely on for regular seasonal sales. The Steam Autumn Sale runs through next Tuesday (11/27). Find deals on ARK: Survival Evolved ($20), Monster Hunter World ($40), Divinity: Original Sin 2 ($30), Civilization VI ($18), and Dragon Quest 11 ($41) just to name some highlights.
Electronic Arts hasn’t had a great year, especially if you don’t really care about sports games. You can find deals on Madden, FIFA, Star Wars Battlefront 2 and The Sims 4. Titanfall 2 maybe be the best deal here, at 75% off ($5) on Origin.
Recent Ubisoft releases like Far Cry 5 ($20) and Assassin’s Creed Odyssey ($40) are all on sale for Black Friday. If you purchase directly through the Ubisoft store and spend at least $40, they’ll throw in Rayman Legends for free. Other good deals include Assassin’s Creed Origins ($16), and The Division ($12).
If online PC gaming is your jam, look no further than Overwatch ($15), World of Warcraft ($40), Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 ($48), and Destiny 2: Forsaken ($30), all on sale for Black Friday until Nov. 26.
Hearthstone’s latest expansion, The Boomsday Project, has officially been released this week. The expansion adds 135 new cards. Log in to Hearthstone for a limited time to receive three Boomsday Project card packs for free, as well as a free random Legendary card.
“Today, Hearthstone players everywhere can unleash their inner evil genius in The Boomsday Project,” said Mike Morhaime, CEO and co-founder of Blizzard Entertainment. “We packed this expansion with all kinds of things that go boom, and we can’t wait to see the new strategies that players concoct.”
The Boomsday Project expansion adds several new care features and mechanics. Omega cards become stronger when played at a full 10 mana crystals. New Mech minions include the Magnetic keyword, letting them be combined to form more powerful minions. Projects are spells that help both players. New Legendary cards include both mad scientists and powerful new Legendary Spells.
The new single player scenario is called The Puzzle Lab, and it’s coming in another two weeks. Blizzard is still only teasing the details. Players will “will face a series of increasingly difficult puzzles as they attempt to impress Dr. Boom with their quick wits and neglect of safety regulations.”
The Boomsday Project is available now on PC and mobile devices. Like every Hearthstone expansion, cards can be purchased in individual packs or in bundles through the Shop or using real currency. Boomsday Project cards can be earned in the Arena or crafted using Arcane Dust.
Hearthstone is rated T for Teen.
Blizzard’s ongoing MOBA Heroes of the Storm is finally getting a Warcraft-themed battleground. The Echoes of Alterac event begins next week, adding the new Alterac Pass Battleground as well as…
As Blizzard Entertainment announced last month, the first Hearthstone expansion of 2018 is The Witchwood, and it’s available now on PC and mobile devices. “The Witchwood brings a spooky Azeroth…