With that said, the statement may still be reassuring given Epic’s financial dependencies. Chinese tech giant Tencent has a large (though minority) stake in Epic, leading some to worry that it might push Epic to silence political critics lest it lose business in its homeland. (Tencent also has a stake in Activision Blizzard, although it’s considerably smaller at less than five percent.) Clearly, that wasn’t a factor here — although Epic is a private company that doesn’t have to answer to public shareholders if it makes a move that eats into its profits.
As it is, Epic may not want to embroil itself in a political mess in light of the fallout from Blizzard’s decision. In addition to widespread online criticism (including from its own forums and Reddit community), Blizzard’s decision has attracted bipartisan flak from American politicians. Senator Ron Wyden, for instance, accused Blizzard of wanting to “humiliate itself” to please China and “make a quick buck.” Although there’s no guarantee of formal political action, Blizzard is attracting the kind of official scrutiny that Epic is likely keen to avoid.