Tim Sweeney, CEO of Fortnite developers Epic Games, has clarified where his company stands in terms of political speech, amid the controversy surrounding Blizzard and Hong Kong.
If there’s one thing that gaming history has taught us, it’s that esports and politics usually don’t mix well, and things usually go south when matters of public affairs infiltrate the world of online gaming.
The latest, and perhaps biggest example of this is the ongoing controversy involving Blizzard Entertainment, who suspended a Hearthstone pro for expressing his support for the protests currently happening in Hong Kong.
Following the suspension, Blizzard have met with severe criticisms and backlash, which prompted Epic Games to make sure everyone is clear on where they stand on political speech.
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“Epic supports everyone’s right to express their views on politics and human rights,” a spokesperson told The Verge. “We wouldn’t ban or punish a Fortnite player or content creator for speaking on these topics.”
This topic also spilled onto Twitter, where a fan asked Tim Sweeney about his thoughts on the controversy, considering that 40% of Epic is owned by Chinese company Tencent.
Sweeney reaffirmed what had been told in the interview, saying that “Epic supports the rights of Fortnite players and creators to speak about politics and human rights.”
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When asked whether this would still apply if a prominent figure, such as Turner ‘Tfue’ Tenney, made a political statement at an Epic-sponsored event, the CEO had one word: “Exactly.”
He also did not waver when Tencent’s involvement with his company was brought up: “Epic is a US company and I’m the controlling shareholder. Tencent is an approximately 40% shareholder, and there are many other shareholders, including employees and investors.”
Perhaps his boldest and strongest statement came when he was asked whether Epic could avoid having to cut ties with influential figures if they do make a political statement: “Yes, absolutely. That will never happen on my watch as the founder, CEO, and controlling shareholder.”
Following that Twitter thread, many congratulated Sweeney for being so forthright and transparent regarding his company’s position regarding political speech, as now Fortnite players and content creators around the world can feel a little more at ease should they wish to make any remarks about what’s going on around the world.