Blizzcon: Blizzard Apologizes For Banning Blitzchung, Keeps Him Banned, More Fallout Ensues

from the keep-digging dept

The fallout from Blizzard's complete bungling of several eSports competitors taking public stances in support of the ongoing protests in Hong Kong has been both brutal and ongoing. As a reminder, professional Hearthstone player Blitzchung made relatively mild statements on a Blizzard stream backing the protests, leading to Blizzard yanking his prize money from an event and then issuing him a 1 year ban from competition. Others joined him in those comments afterwards, resulting in more bans. Soon after that, Blizzard returned Blitzchung's prize money and reduced his ban to 6 months, apparently believing the outrage that had ensued was over 6 months of the bans, rather than the fact that Blizzard would ban players for this kind of speech at all. Congress started making noise, calling on Blizzard to behave better, while at least one advertiser bailed on Blizzard entirely.

That's what has occurred basically over the last month or so. This past week, of course, was the start of Blizzcon, the convention that is supposed to be one enormous celebration of Blizzard. Instead, Blizzard President J. Allen Brack was forced to walk onto the stage at Blizzcon's opening ceremony and issue an apology.

Before Blizzcon’s opening ceremony, Blizzard president J. Allen Brack somberly addressed the crowd with an apology for Blizzard’s harsh punishment of Hearthstone esports pro Chung “Blitzchung” Ng Wai. “Blizzard had the opportunity to bring the world together in a tough Hearthstone esports moment about a month ago and we did not,” said Brack.

“We moved too quickly in our decision-making and then, to make matters worse, we were too slow to talk with all of you,” said Brack. “We didn’t live up to the high standards that we really set for ourselves.”

Brack went further: “I’m sorry and I accept accountability,” he said.

You might assume that he then immediately announced that Blitzchung's 6 month ban and the other bans issued for Hong Kong comments had been rescinded. But you would be very, very wrong about that. Blitzchung's ban remains. And, as far as official Blizzard policy goes, political comments on Blizzard streams and during events are still very much forbidden. In other words, it's difficult to see what's actually changed to go along with Brack's "apology."

Outside of Blizzcon's front door, there is a group of people who also don't seem to be particularly placated.

Protesters, some in cosplay, are holding signs and chanting slogans like “People over profit” and “Free Hong Kong.”

This particular protest has been facilitated by multiple groups, including Los Angeles-based pro-Hong Kong democracy collective Hong Kong Forum, another pro-Hong Kong group called Freedom Hong Kong, an activist organization called Fight For The Future, and the Protest BlizzCon subreddit, the latter two of whom announced their protest intentions well in advance of the convention.

The protest continued into the afternoon, featuring speeches from guests like two of the American University Hearthstone players who held up a “free Hong Kong” sign during a Blizzard-hosted broadcast and ultimately received a punishment similar to Blitzchung’s.

This isn't the celebration of Blizzard the company hoped would greet convention goers upon entering Blizzcon, you can be sure. It's worth remembering at this point, again, that Blitzchung's comments in support of Hong Kong were incredibly mild. Blizzard massively overplayed its hand, when it could have shown some spine, no matter the pretend hurt feelings of Beijing.

Hell, even Hearthstone's developers are publicly commenting that they don't support Blizzard's actions.

During an interview at BlizzCon, Hearthstone game director Ben Lee and creative director Ben Thompson admitted that they wished Blizzard execs had handled the Hong Kong powder keg with more care.

And yet the rage continues, as do the protests, all because Blizzard kept tripping over its own feet in handling all of this.

Filed Under: allen brack, blitzchung, blizzcon, free speech, hong kong
Companies: blizzard


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  1. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 7 Nov 2019 @ 7:45am

    Re: Re: Re:

    If the people stopped protesting for something they never had a right to

    How exactly do you think people get the right to democracy?


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