Enterprise

Blizzard in deep trouble for supporting China

Update: Blizzard eases sanctions against Blitzchung

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Image source: Overwatch

The American corporate world is in a state of crisis caused by the tension between China and America. In the middle of this heightened Sino-American corporate war, Hong Kong lies in the middle, eagerly awaiting its democratic victory against Chinese authoritarianism. Because of the immensity of the geopolitical issue, individuals have inevitably expressed their opinions on the matter through public avenues.

Recently, individual opinions are getting in the way of corporate profits, especially for the companies that these individuals represent. From slaps on the wrist to outlandish punitive measures, American companies are putting a clamp on anti-China sentiments. The US is discovering where their favorite companies’ loyalties really lie — with the American people or with the Chinese government.

Blizzard: too cool for Hong Kong

Among these controversial companies, Blizzard Entertainment is fueling a significant portion of the dispute. Last weekend, the company held a Hearthstone tournament in Taiwan. The winner, Blitzchung (real name: Chung Ng Wai), expressed pro-HK opinions during his victory speech: “Liberate Hong Kong, revolution of our age.”

Days later, Blizzard Entertainment issued steep punishments against Blitzchung: stripping him of his prize money and banning him from competitive play for a year. The company has also fired the two broadcasters involved in the interview. Blizzard has deleted the official interview from their accounts.

“I don’t regret saying that stuff. And even now, I don’t regret it at all.” In defense of his actions, Blitzchung has expressed the necessity of his opinions. “I shouldn’t be scared. I hope my act can inspire other gamers like me, to continue to support the movement in Hong Kong,” he told AFP.

According to Blizzard, Blitzchung’s voiced opinion “offends a portion or group of the public, or otherwise damages [Blizzard’s] images,” warranting the fine and the ban. Curiously, the company did not say if the ban results from any Chinese intervention.

#BoycottBlizzard

Since then, Blizzard’s actions have sparked global outrage, accusing the company of political favoritism rather than supporting its customers or representatives. Many individual personalities have boycotted the company’s products including the highly popular MMORPG World of Warcraft and the competitive shooter Overwatch.

Some Overwatch players have even started using the game’s Chinese character, Mei, as a pro-HK icon. In the game, Mei — and the other characters — are largely apolitical regarding real-world politics. The game is set in a futuristic world with anthropomorphic gorillas and conscious robots. In creating a pro-HK icon, players hope to cause a larger boycott of Blizzard’s products.

Notably, Blizzard’s employees have also expressed dismay over their company’s actions. After the incident, several employees have walked out of their offices in protest. Also, an employee has supposedly taped over Blizzard’s forward-thing motto displayed on the company’s campus: “Think Globally” and “Every Voice Matters.”

The global outrage has already earned the attention of American lawmakers. Floridian Senator Marco Rubio has tweeted his support against Blizzard. “China using access to market as leverage to crush free speech globally,” he said.

Another senator, Ron Wyden from Oregon, has expressed the same sentiments. “Blizzard shows it is willing to humiliate itself to please the Chinese Communist Party. No American company should censor calls for freedom to make a quick buck,” he said.

Meanwhile, rivaling game companies have shown support for Blitzchung. Gods Unchained, a card game similar to Hearthstone, has promised to pay the tournament winner the full winnings stripped by Blizzard. Fortnite’s Epic Games has proclaimed that it will never penalize players for expressing their right to free speech.

Companies for China

Besides Blizzard, the NBA is also embroiled in a similar controversy. China has recently blacklisted the Houston Rockets because of a tweet from general manager Daryl Morey. Apple is also in trouble for supporting a pro-HK app and censoring the Taiwanese flag.

Slowly, the world is unraveling the curtain draping over the biggest companies today. Underneath, people are discovering a cruel truth: the persistence of money versus integral values.

Update [10/11/19]: At the end of the day on Friday (US time), Blizzard issued a statement in response to the recent controversies. In the lengthy post, the company has decided to ease up on the penalties issued to both Blitzchung and the shoutcasters. For one, Blitzchung will finally receive his full winnings. Further, Blizzard has reduced the bans to only six months.

Explaining their side, Blizzard has reiterated that the decision was made without Chinese intervention. According to the statement, Blizzard acted to ensure the tournament’s status as an inclusive environment for all gamers.

SEE ALSO: Blizzard is taking their other titles to your mobile

Enterprise

NutriAsia’s EcoStation is a solar-powered sustainable hub

For a greener living in the city

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NutriAsia, the Philippines’ prime producer of condiments and sauces, launched a sustainability hub that contributes to green living.

Nestled within the busy Bonifacio Global City, NutriAsia’s EcoStation houses innovative features. For instance, there’s Select & Collect — a sustainable way of shopping and restocking your favorite kitchen staples.

Select and Collect

You can select your pantry essentials and pay through the website selectandcollect.ph. Afterward, you can choose your preferred time to pick up your purchases on the Select and Collect lockers at the EcoStation. Other options include the curbside of the JY Campos Center and the bring-your-own-bottle booth in the Mind Museum.

What the system does is encourage people to collect their purchases at their own time while using their reusable shopping bags. Less carbon footprint? Check. Reduced unnecessary packaging? Check. Minimized contact? Check.

Free water refill

Weirdly, bottled waters are expensive. NutriAsia’s EcoStation is a refresher that encourages people to embrace a refilling mindset. You can use your own containers, ideal for runners within the complex.

All you need to do is scan the QR code that will redirect you to the BYOB (Bring Your Own Bottle) website, so you can generate a unique QR code to be scanned by the dispenser and get your free water refill

Sustainable from the get-go

More importantly, the Ecostation uses solar energy to power up the eco-friendly spot and irrigate the plants through an integrated watering system. NutriAsia’s EcoStation is strategically located at the bus stop along 30th street (beside Track 30th) in Bonifacio Global City, Taguig, Philippines.

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Enterprise

Touring the first Google Store in New York City

An exquisite experience of technology, commerce, and design

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After pop-up shops and showrooms, Google finally opened its first physical retail store in the city that never sleeps.

Located on 15th and 9th by Chelsea Market in Manhattan, the Google Store in NYC offers a hip and smart experience echoing the vibe of its trendy community location.

Earlier this week GadgetMatch was invited to a special preview. Here is what we saw.

A spectacle of architecture and technology

The new Google Store features floor to ceiling glass that allows a glimpse of its sophisticated exteriors.

A Google campus bike is parked outside the store.

Come on, let’s have a look.

My senses are… overwhelmed

The Google Store is intended to be both a space where one can experience the entire range of Google hardware, and a shop for those wanting to take it all home.

The Nest Gallery Wall. Images/GadgetMatch

From Pixel phones and Nest products to Fitbit wearables and even Pixelbooks — there’s a lot to explore and experience.

An interactive exhibit

There’s a 17-foot-tall circular glass structure near the main entrance called the Google Imagination Space. It’s a set of custom interactive screens featuring rotating exhibits of the best of Google’s products and technologies.

It was designed and engineered with local New York partners so you can probe the possibilities of Google Translate and the capabilities of machine learning. You can try a real-time translation of your speech into 24 languages simultaneously when you speak to the exhibit. If you want to know the technology behind it, the exhibit will also showcase the hows.

The Nest Living Room

The Google Store lets you play on their sandboxes. One is the Nest Sandbox, decorated as a simulated living room filled with Nest products.

You can explore how Nest provides useful solutions that you can apply — should you decide to build your own Nest smart home.

It’s definitely social-media-worthy, in case you ever want to drop by.

Stadia Sandbox

Of course, there’s a dedicated space for those who love playing games. You can freely experience and game on Stadia through the Stadia Sandbox.

The whole vibe speaks futuristic and contemporary!

Workshop space

While Apple has a video wall called The Forum as a center stage for creativity, Google has a Workshop Space that caters to various events such as family storytime, Nest cooking demos, Pixel photography lessons, YouTube concerts, and the likes.

Commitment to sustainability

Sustainability is always at Google’s core — whether it’s their technology, hardware, or even a physical store. Every element of the Google Store was meticulously considered and selected. From the materials, building processes, mechanical systems, and more.

For instance, each lighting fixture is energy-efficient — working with the U.S. Green Building Council to achieve a LEED Platinum rating, the highest certification within the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design green building rating system.

All the help that you need

There’s also a Here to Help support desk, complete with associates that will help assist your needs, answer all your questions regarding technology, and aids you on an on-site repair of your Pixel smartphone.

The Google Store opens its doors for business starting June 17, 2021 at 10 a.m. Eastern. You may visit it at 76 Ninth Avenue in Chelsea, Manhattan, New York City.

All photos by GadgetMatch.

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Enterprise

Amazon is acquiring MGM Studios for $8.5 billion

Amazon isn’t giving up on the streaming wars

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Amazon Prime Video is going head-on against Netflix, Apple TV+, and HBO Max. And to get a headstart, the e-commerce giant is acquiring MGM Studios for a whopping US$ 8.45 billion.

The film studio is behind the Rocky, Legally Blonde, and James Bond franchises.  Also included are more than 17,000 TV shows. Once the deal closes, the short-term impact will be unfettered access for Amazon’s Prime Video platform.

Bond is the fifth most valuable movie franchise of all time, with its 24 films to date grossing more than $7bn, behind only the sprawling Marvel Cinematic Universe. MGM’s library includes unscripted TV shows like The Voice and Shark Tank and modern TV shows like The Handmaid’s Tale and Vikings.

It is the second-largest takeover deal ever struck by Amazon. In 2017 it paid US$ 13.7 billion for the upmarket US grocer Whole Foods. Amazon said it’d “preserve MGM’s heritage and catalog of films” and provide customers with greater access to existing works.

However, this transaction isn’t uncommon. Disney’s US$ 66 billion acquisition of Fox assets gave the world’s largest media company the extra content muscle to successfully join the streaming wars with the launch of Disney+. It later went onto acquire India streaming company Hotstar for an undisclosed amount. Back then, Hotstar had close to 400 million monthly active users, and many of them view the free, ad-supported content.

Amazon doesn’t report any metrics about Prime Video’s usage, for instance, and the only reference to content expense is in a footnote to its financial statements. Hence it’s unknown how many active users it has. Since the streaming service is clubbed with Amazon’s e-commerce business, it’s also a very affordable purchase for a user.

“The real financial value behind this deal is the treasure trove of IP in the deep catalog that we plan to reimagine and develop together with MGM’s talented team,” said Mike Hopkins, senior vice president of Prime Video and Amazon Studios. “It’s very exciting and provides so many opportunities for high-quality storytelling.”

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