They have a PR department. They work closely with their Board. Their Board is keenly aware of the legislated, legal duty, to maximize profit within the scope of the law. This legal duty is owed to their shareholders. If they demonstrably act in ways that can be expected to lower the RoI of their shareholders, the shareholders can fire the board and I believe take legal action if needed. Fuzzy on the details, but the top of the company can be decimated in various ways.
EDIT: turns out this is even more nuanced! As u/Athenau points out, there is no fiduciary duty to maximize profit after the Hobby Lobby decision! Check here for details: https://www.lawschool.cornell.edu/academics/clarke_business_law_institute/corporations-and-society/Common-Misunderstandings-About-Corporations.cfm I will note that as per this clarification: "Usually maximizing shareholder value is not a legal obligation, but the product of the pressure that activist shareholders, stock-based compensation schemes and financial markets impose on corporate directors" we are still faced with legal and regulatory options to further reduce incentives to maximize profits at the expense of all else (reduce or restrict stock based compensations, explore options to reduce financial market pressure, put caps on stock ownership %'s, or anything else that is more reasonable but would achieve the same goal).
Now. If these are Blizzards actions, it means that some people with likely a lot of experience and expertise in these types of matters has calculated that the loss of revenue caused by upset Western customers is less than the loss of revenue caused by being firewalled by China. Seems fairly straight forward.
Given the above, no one should expect any less from a publicly traded company. Legally (not legally, see edit above), they HAVE to (may) do this unless someone can show how doing the opposite (aka F U CCP) can result in either a net loss of zero revenue or a deficit that's small enough to be worth the "virtue" capital the company would gain in the West. I think given China's market this is a hard sell.
If there is something to note here, other than our collective and perhaps differing view on the HK situation, it is the imperative of public companies to maximize profit at all costs within the bounds of laws and regulations. That incentive, in the absence of sufficient and fully enforced regulation, is always going to lead to things like this. Whatever shape they may take. Hell. Google the history of Ameican corporate involvement in the so called "third world". Then google how the US government helped pave the road to that involvement with military and diplomatic force. Again. All caused by the legal structure and legal duty of public corporations which at the end of the day is the result of sentences on pieces of paper which can be erased or altered at any time through the democratic process in the American system.
If you're still here… consider next why China had the political clout it currently enjoys. We have outsourced all of our manufacturing to China. Why? Same reason as above. There is opportunity to take advantage of economic dynamics enforced by a global hegemony largely funded and voted in by and through corporate interest. How so? Well. Consider that its cheaper to make stuff half a world away… Sail it across the Pacific on massive massive ships… Then ship it across North America… Then sell it to you at Wal-Mart. How is this possible? Step 1: cheap oil. How is it that cheap? Tax breaks (lobbied for by corps) for oil producers, refiners, etc. US hegemonic control of global oil production… see Iraq wars for example. No way to capture the externalities of the global oil economy (damage to the environment or the health of people is not paid for by corps… but by us through taxes after the fact via gov programs) which means the oil based businesses (all of them) can ship across the world at scale.
All of this means that China knows that at this point, we are all completely dependent on China. Without them making our stuff, our economies would collapse. Changing that would take… Years… And years. And our corporations would stand to lose money for a while before starting to make money again.
So. If you are pissed. Please. Please study everything you can find about corporate and American history. Watch Lawrence Lessing's ted talks. Start volunteering in a civic capacity. Fight with every nonviolent means you have to reverse gerrymandering, Citizens United, the power of lobbyists, the Electoral College and for God's sakes… get rid of your easily hacked voting machines (pen and paper is so much better and more secure). This is as much about China as it is about America.
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