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he then immediately announced that Blitzchung's 6 month ban and the other bans issued for Hong Kong comments had been rescinded.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. icon
    Scary Devil Monastery (profile), 8 Nov 2019 @ 3:10am

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    "So... They got was was comin' to them?"

    Harsh as it may sound? Yes.

    If I know for a fact that the land I'm sitting on will be marched over by a horde of heartless bureaucrats to whom life and liberty are curse words and that my choices are to live in oppression, resist and die...or leave, then i opt for the last choice unless I'm willing to be a martyr or believe I have a decent shot at sparking an effective revolution.
    And in that hypothetical revolution...if this story was "Braveheart" it would be one where William Wallace had to revolt against King Edward on his lonesome with all the other scots still being on the King's side.

    This is not a military coup. It's not a foreign invasion. It's not ISIS storming across the border in a sudden unexplicable surge nor a famine-based tribal migration.
    It's the expiry of the lease on property which was originally forcibly established at the point of a cannon by the western drug cartels of the 18th century during the Opium wars.

    Vox Populi, Vox Dei only works in a nation based on democratic values. In a dictatorship all it means is some labor camp in northern china gets more manpower. Standing up in a protest on the streets of Hong Kong doesn't mean you are a brave person willing to suffer some tear gas and beatings in order to bring your rights to the table. It just means you provide the government with the identity of anyone unwilling to submit so an example can be made.

    "And so it's wrong for anyone outside of China to express their support for them? Because they are stupid for wanting a better deal."

    I'm sorry, by "express support" do you mean "Threaten China with a war of aggression spearheaded with enough armed forces to actually win" or do you mean "Nod our heads in sympathy and mouth a few empty words" which is tantamount do doing nothing?

    Unless we're willing to actually invade China and stick around for a thousand years until it has adopted western social values then the best we CAN do to offer support would be to tell the protestors "We've got room in the west, and we can always use more people who believe in democracy and freedom".

    I don't think it's wrong to "express support". I just think it's hypocrisy of the highest order since the only thing our "support" will accomplish is what it's done for Tibet over the last 70 years - not a damn thing. At best we get to pin a label to our lapels saying "We Care" which lets us to conveniently put our conscience right back to sleep.

    Those protesters currently waving their arms on the streets of hong Kong "lost" something they never really had and never could expect to retain. Right now there are two options where they recover those rights. One is which where they go some other place than China. The other one is where we threaten to start world war 3 on their behalf.

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