Blizzard's treatment of the Hong Kong controversy the company has been embroiled in for the better part of a month has resulted in the loss of a corporate sponsor, as Mitsubishi Motors withdrew its support for Blizzard esports events. Historically, Mitsubishi Motors' Taiwanese branch has been a sponsor for virtually all of Blizzard's events, and has been a major part of the corporate backbone that allows the publisher to host glamorous esports tournaments.
The Blizzard Hong Kong controversy began with Hearthstone pro player blitzchung protesting the current state of Chinese politics, supporting the on-going resistance occurring within Hong Kong after Chinese lawmakers attempted to put rules in place that were viewed as infringing on the freedom of the population by some. Blizzard's swift punishment for blitzchung's protest on-stream was immediately met with revulsion by fans, who felt the company was bending over backwards to censor its own players in order to appease the Chinese government and the lucrative payday that comes with games services being supported in the country. Since then, Blizzard has walked back much of the punishment handed down to blitzchung, but that hasn't stopped fans from attempting protests of the company, which has remained unwavering in its support of China and its unwillingness to entertain Hong Kong protests or other mentions of political matters.
The problem has gotten so bad that US politicians have written an open letter to criticize the company's actions, which was once again met with silence. However, Blizzard has now lost a major corporate sponsor in Japanese giant Mitsubishi Motors. A spokesperson for the company confirmed the decision to The Daily Beast, stating simply that it had "ended its sponsorship of Blizzard's esports events" without elaborating further. It remains to be seen how or if Blizzard will respond to the news, as the publisher has been silent on most of the fallout from its decision and has simply chosen to ignore it - or cancel events altogether, if they seem like they may result in protests or more pro-Hong Kong action.
That policy will only be able to last so long, as Blizzard is just days away from its annual BlizzCon convention. There are some genuinely exciting announcements lined up for the show, with the company reportedly set to announce both Diablo 4 and Overwatch 2 over the course of the weekend. However, anxiety over possible mass protests and hostile environments while at the show remain, as it seems the perfect location for consumers to make their voices heard.
While that will be interesting to follow this weekend, for now, Blizzard's inaction over the decisions it has made that have offended consumers globally has directly led to losing a major corporate sponsor. If more companies decide to pull out, it might be the money - the same pursuit that led to Blizzard supporting China in the first place - that finally makes the publisher come around to owning up to its mistakes and correcting an issue many believe has still gone unaddressed.
Source: The Daily Beast