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Epic Games won't ban Fortnite players for political speech even if they lose investors

Following the controversy sparked by Blizzard Entertainment's decision to suspend professional Hearthstone player Chung 'Blitzchung' Ng Wai for sharing his support of of the Hong Kong protests during a post-match interview, another U.S. gaming company has taken a stand for free speech.

"Epic supports everyone's right to express their views on politics and human rights. We wouldn't ban or punish a Fortnite player or content creator for speaking on these topics," the Fortnite creator said in a statement to The Verge. Tim Sweeney, the founder and CEO of Epic Games, doubled down on this stance when asked for his take on Twitter.

"Epic supports the rights of Fortnite players and creators to speak about politics and human rights," Sweeney responded to a comment about Chinese shareholder Tencent who owns 40% of the company.

Another user tested Sweeney's resolve, posing the following question: "so if say @tfue said "Free Hong Kong" in a post-game interview, you wouldn't do anything?"

"Exactly," Sweeney responded. The CEO expanded his statement when presented with the possibility of Tencent pulling their investment. Surely with a 40% share in the company they would be forced to cut ties with any player who spoke out against China? Not according to Sweeney.

"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," Sweeney stated. "That will never happen on my watch as the founder, CEO, and controlling shareholder."

While many were impressed with Epic Games message of free speech and anti-censorship, others remained dubious, pointing out that Tencent was only 11% from a majority share in the company. Others stated that, despite Sweeney's apparently good intentions, they could not support a company in which Tencent, one of the early adopters of the Chinese social credit system, was such a large shareholder. It's worth noting that Tencent also owns a 5% share of Activision Blizzard.