Popular video game publisher and developer conglomerate Activision Blizzard has come under large amounts of scrutiny after they banned professional “Hearthstone” player Ng Wai Chung for making a statement in support of pro-democracy protests in his hometown of Hong Kong during a livestream of a tournament.
With BlizzCon 2019 happening this past weekend, there was reason to believe that there was going to be some sort of protest following recent controversies, and indeed, many demonstrators showed up outside of the convention center where it was held.
This begs the question, can Activision Blizzard or any company come back from a bad public relations stunt
There’s an age-old adage that no publicity is bad publicity. This is an adage I’ve questioned several times in my life. It would seem like being on the wrong side of a fight against human rights violations to prevent your company from losing money in the Chinese market would be hard for even the best public relations person to spin as a positive.
Certainly Activision Blizzard, who has made some of the most beloved and commercially successful video games of all time such as “StarCraft” and “World of Warcraft,” doesn’t need any more publicity than they would usually get around the time of their own convention.
But despite the recent bad publicity, Blizzard doesn’t seem to really need to bounce back from it, at least not in the only way that actually matters to them: their cash flow.
A decent portion of the public seems to have already stopped caring about their controversial handling of the Hong Kong protests by focusing instead on the company announcing long awaited sequels to popular games “Overwatch” and “Diablo.”
Ultimately, it is up to the consumer to decide whether or not a company succeeds despite bad PR. Sometimes boycotting does work, but often times the demand for a product outweighs people’s moral integrity.
A large majority of the public has a different view of Activision Blizzard after the Hong Kong controversy, but I don’t think any company really cares how the public views them if they’re still making money.