“Sydney startup faces cyber attack after supporting pro-Hong Kong gamer”, 9 October 2019

A Sydney gaming startup has been hit by a concerted cyber attack after it offered to support a professional gamer banned from his sport for endorsing Hong Kong democracy protests.

Surry Hills company Immutable was hit…by an attack preventing players from logging into its online card game Gods Unchained for about four hours. It came after Immutable announced it would cover prize money worth about $US10,000 ($15,000) that had been withdrawn from a Hong Kong gamer by a competitor.

“The stance we were taking was that we don’t think your financial assets should be taken away from you for expressing a belief,” Immutable co-founder Robbie Ferguson said.

The online attack shows the risks run by the few companies who take a stance in conflict with China’s geopolitical sensitivities, but it also demonstrates the rewards: players angry at Immutable’s competitor Blizzard flocked to Gods Unchained.

…Blizzard banned Hong Kong’s Chung “Blitzchung” Ng Wai from Hearthstone eSports for a year and withdrew tournament prize money he had won after he expressed support for protests in theChinese territory.

…”We are trying to change players’ relationship with gaming and the assets they own,” Mr Ferguson said. “If we didn’t do this [supporting Mr Chung] it would be disingenuous or just weak.”

Blizzard said Mr Chung’s behaviour violated its rules barring players from conduct that “offends a portion or group of the public” or “damages Blizzard image” [sic].

…Mr Ferguson said Mr Chung had privately responded on Twitter, saying he appreciated Immutable’s offer but did not say whether he would take it up.

…About seven hours after Immutable announced its offer, it was hit with the cyber attack that blocked players from logging into Gods Unchained. Mr Ferguson said the attack was continuing but Immutable had managed to ward off the damage after about four hours with the help of external security experts.

While Mr Ferguson said he had not analysed the attack in detail, he believed it most likely originated in China.

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