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Call of Duty breaks records as publisher faces Hong Kong backlash

BBC Technology 09 Oct 2019 10:57
A screenshot from the Call of Duty: Mobile gameImage copyright Activision

A mobile version of video game Call of Duty has been downloaded more than 100 million times in its first week.

However, a boycott aimed at the game's publisher, Activision Blizzard, has been launched after Blizzard placed a 12-month ban on a Hearthstone gamer who staged an online protest over the political crisis in Hong Kong.

The hashtag #Blizzardboycott is now trending on Twitter.

Boycotters included Mark Kern, a developer who has worked for Blizzard.

"It's done," tweeted Mr Kern, with a screenshot suggesting he had just cancelled his subscription to World of Warcraft.

"Unless/until they completely reverse their stance on this issue (which, unfortunately, doesn't seem likely) they will get no more money from me," wrote one Reddit user in a long thread about the boycott.

The latest title in the hugely popular Call of Duty franchise has been well received by gamers, according to download statistics from Sensor Tower.

A PC and console title, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare, is due to be released on 25 October.

Meanwhile, video game industry commentator Rod Breslau noticed that in another live-streamed Hearthstone tournament game, one player held up a sign saying, "Free Hong Kong, boycott Blizz[ard]".

Activision Blizzard's share price had fallen by 2.3% by the close of trading on Tuesday.

"It's negative PR and that's never great for a company but I can't remember an instance where a consumer-led boycott has led to a significant drop in sales in the video games industry," he told the BBC.

Seth Barton, editor of gaming industry magazine MCV, agreed that the boycott was unlikely to have a significant impact.

BBC News has contacted Activision Blizzard for comment.

Ng Wai Chung is the name of the gamer banned for 12 months by Blizzard. He uses the pseudonym Blitzchung.

Blizzard said tournament rules said players must not offend people or damage the company's image.

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BlizzardHong KongUSMark KernLiberate Hong Kong