Mark Kern was a Team Lead at Blizzard. He gives a first hand account of how Chinese money is corrupting American games and media.
Mark Kern @Grummz 2 days ago, 14 tweets, 3 min read on Twitter
“This hurts. But until Blizzard reverses their decision on @blitzchungHS I am giving up playing Classic WoW, which I helped make and helped convince Blizzard to relaunch. There will be no Mark of Kern guild after all.
Let me explain why I am #BoycottBlizzard.
I am ethnically Chinese. I was born in Taiwan and I lived in Hong Kong for a time. I have done buisiness with China for many years, with serveral gaming companies there.
So I think I have a valid perspective here, having been a Team Lead at Blizzard and having grown up in Asia. I have watched China slowly take over as the dominant investing force in gaming and movies over the years. It’s a shame US companies never believed as strongly as China and Asia in investing in games, but this allowed China to have unprecedented influence over our media.
Chinese game companies have grown huge not just because of market size, but because the government subsidizes them. They get free land, free offices, and huge infusions of cash.
This cash was and is used to do expand and buy up stakes in US gaming companies. I’ve seen firsthand the corruption of Chinese gaming companies, and I was removed from a company I founded (after Blizzard) for refusing to take a 2 million dollar kickback bribe to take an investment from China. This is the first time I’ve ever spoken pubically about it.
I’ve also seen how American company reps in China have been offered similar bribes to get licenses for large AAA titles. Not everyone refused like I did.
Chinese companies tried to ruin my career with planted press stories. Money is often paid for favorable press in China and some of that money flows here to the US as well.
Unfortunately, money talks. China has succeeded in infiltrating all levels of tech, gaming and more. Unfortunately, US and European companies are loath to take risks and invest in game companies legally as much as China was. China remained one of the few places mid tier studios could get funding.
So again, China influence grew. I’m sure this is the same for movies as well. But now we are in a situation where unlimited Communist money dictates our American values. We censor our games for China, we censor our movies for China.
Now, game companies are silencing voices for freedom and democracy.
China is dictating that the world be authoritarian. Of all the companies in the world, Blizzard is the LAST company I ever expected to give in to China’s demands.
Blizzard was always about “gamer first” and “don’t be greedy.”
At least, it was when I was there.
It’s one thing to keep politics out of games, which I am still a proponent of doing. It’s another to unfairly and harshly punish voices that speak out against corruption, against abuses of human rights, and freedom.
I take a huge risk by saying this. China monitors all social media and I know this means that we will probably never get an investment from China for my new MMO, and probably never get a license to operate there.
But enough is enough. I stand with Hong Kong, and I oppose Blizzard’s obvious and laughably transparent fear of China.
It’s time for Blizzard to grow the spine it used to have, and to do what’s right for gamers once again.
Gamers, rise up.
And yes, this means I will be refusing any deal for Epic exclusivity. The money comes from Tencent. Em8ER will never be an Epic game store exclusive.
This might mean we never make a dime, but more is at stake now than just games. A line has to be drawn, and I’m drawing it now.”