Blizzard Confirms It Won't Rescind Blitzchung's Suspension

from the keep-digging dept

We had just talked about the apology that Blizzard's President J. Allen Brack issued at the opening of Blizzcon this past week. In that apology, Brack accepts responsibility for "moving too quickly" in banning Blitzchung for his mild statements of support for the ongoing protests in Hong Kong and states that Blizzard hadn't "lived up to the high standards" that Brack apparently expects out of the company. Notably absent from the apology was any reference to altering Blitzchung's six month ban from competition, or any changes to other bans over Hong Kong speech the company had handed out.

And now Brack has explicitly stated in a recent interview that Blitzchung's 6 month ban will stay in place, further calling into question what the point of his "apology" was at all.

In explaining that decision,Brack reiterated the message that Blizzard supports free speech and encourages employees and players to say what they want in "all kinds of ways and all kinds of places." The one exception to that, he said, is "official broadcasts," including Blizzard-sponsored esports events, which the company wants to be "focused on the games."

"Again, it's not about the content of Blitzchung's message,"Brack said, echoing previous comments from Blizzard. "It's about the fact that it was not around the games. If we hadn't taken action, if we hadn't done something, you can imagine the trail that would be in our future around doing interviews. They would become times for people to make a statement about whatever they wanted to, on whatever issue. That's just a path that we don't want to go down. We really want the content of those official broadcasts to be focused on the games, and keep that focus."

Which lands us pretty much right back to Blizzard's original policy. So what was the apology for? Simply banning too quickly? Banning for a year instead of six months? None of this addresses what people are actually angry about. Brack went on to state that Blizzard competitors were free to express their political thoughts outside of Blizzard stream, though there is evidence to the contrary.

Brack went on to make even more confusing statements suggesting that Chinese pressure had nothing to do with the ban due to Blizzard not really operating in the country, before then going on to say that they work in close concert with their Chinese broadcast partner.

Brack also reiterated in the interview that Chinese regulations and business pressure has nothing to do with the company's decisions regarding Blitzchung. Though Hearthstone is available in China,Brack stressed that it was only through local publishing partner NetEase, and that Blizzard itself is "not legally allowed to operate or to publish games in China."

Elsewhere in the interview, though, Brack says that Blizzard Taiwan, Hearthstone leadership, and Blizzard's "esports team" were all "in conversation [with NetEase] around the issue." Together, Brack said, those groups "acted very rapidly and we acted very quickly" in handing out Blitzchung's initial ban, using an amount of haste that Brack now calls "the failure of this story."

Very little is clear in any of this, save for the simple reality that Brack's apology was corporate nonsense. If any of this was supposed to tamp down the fervent anger at Blizzard's actions, I can't imagine it working.

Filed Under: allen brack, blitzchung, free speech, heathstone, hong kong, j. allen brack, suspenssion
Companies: blizzard


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  • icon
    Stephen T. Stone (profile), 8 Nov 2019 @ 8:27pm

    "Again, it's not about the content of Blitzchung's message," Brack said, echoing previous comments from Blizzard.

    Bull. Fucking. Shit.

    Blizzard wants a progressive image, and it’s trying to keep it up. Even Brack knows Blizzard wouldn’t suspend someone for pro-LGBT statements. Yet he folded the moment a set of politics threatened his bank account. I pity anyone who takes that statement at face value. But I pity Brack more for thinking he could say it and have people believe it.

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  • icon
    Norahc (profile), 8 Nov 2019 @ 8:30pm

    Obviously Blizzard is trying to dig itself into a hole so deep they'll have a shortcut to their bosses in China.

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  • icon
    Gary (profile), 8 Nov 2019 @ 8:47pm

    Apologies

    Fake apologies are fake.

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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 8 Nov 2019 @ 9:22pm

    An apology without action to rectify the problem that caused the apology in the first place, isn't an apology. It's lip service, feel good. It may feel good to Blizzard but I doubt anyone else taking it serious.

    You can have your cake and eat it too. It's one or it's the other, it isn't half way.

    Rest assured Blizzard has now joined a list of gaming companies I won't buy games from. The money has become more important than the ethics (if there ever was any ethics involved) and so the best way to treat that is to deny them what they seek.

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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 8 Nov 2019 @ 10:37pm

    Instead of putting out the fire they decided to pour gasoline and make it worse.

    I was pretty neutral on Blizzard pre-Blitzchung but now they're quite firmly on my "Do Not Buy From" list.

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    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 8 Nov 2019 @ 11:27pm

    Mike, why don't you clear my address from your filters? You can find it by looking at the blocked non-spam messages.

    Free speech advocates don't hide speech nor do they hide speech by hiding behind others. So don't blame the community for using tools you gave them. If you didn't agree with hiding speech, you wouldn't enable the ability to do so.

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    • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
      identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 9 Nov 2019 @ 1:21am

      Re:

      I was actively "moderated" from this site for a while, and it wasn't a spam filter, just Mike not having answers for what I say, particularly with regard to his "platforms don't defame people, people defame people" argument that is the same one used by those who are against gun control for guns. Guess my absence made it too obvious so the filter started letting me post again.

      Mike rarely strays from posting where he can't censor/block replies. You'd think such an "influencer" would be posting columns all over the place. Mike's oversimplified arguments and editorial slant wouldn't do too well on in a free-speech marketplace.

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      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 9 Nov 2019 @ 4:41am

        Re: Re:

        I was commenting on a site just the other day when my browser went completely blank and the computer rebooted - I'm sure it was some nefarious hacking done by that site's administrator rather than a bit of bad code that found its way into the machine. It certainly is none of my doing so it must be someone else responsible.

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      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 9 Nov 2019 @ 6:40am

        Re: Re:

        Except that argument isn't the same at all. You are literally comparing an object that by design can only be used on an individual basis (thus creating liability on part of the individual) to a Platform (used by many people) run by a company of many people.

        When you shoot a gun, the action and intent traces back to you. When you post to a platform, the same should apply. Otherwise you are punishing the platform that on it's part had neither the action nor intent.

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    • icon
      Stephen T. Stone (profile), 9 Nov 2019 @ 5:41am

      You're not entitled to have your speech hosted here. Don’t like it? Buy Techdirt from Mike so you can force your speech onto this platform.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

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        identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 9 Nov 2019 @ 2:40pm

        Re:

        So long as it is public, I will post.

        It really is a do or do not situation. Website is either public or private.

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        • icon
          Stephen T. Stone (profile), 9 Nov 2019 @ 3:32pm

          So long as it is public, I will post.

          You’re free to do that until you’re told otherwise. But you still can’t force Techdirt to host your speech.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

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            identicon
            Anonymous Coward, 9 Nov 2019 @ 4:16pm

            Re:

            I am not forcing them, spinner.
            They are on the public road. Everyone is invited. They have the option of making it private, like facebook, if they wish to be selective of their guests.

            reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

            • identicon
              Anonymous Coward, 9 Nov 2019 @ 4:35pm

              Re: Re:

              No one's forcing you to stay and change IP addresses either, Hamilton.

              reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

            • icon
              Stephen T. Stone (profile), 9 Nov 2019 @ 5:48pm

              They have the option of making it private, like facebook, if they wish to be selective of their guests.

              Facebook isn’t a private (i.e., invitation-only) service, though. It’s an open-to-the-public service. People can “walk in” (i.e., sign up for Facebook) and use Facebook services without an invitation to join, just like people can walk into an open-to-the-public brick’n’mortar store and make use of the services offered.

              And just like an open-to-the-public brick’n’mortar store can boot someone for being a dick, Facebook can boot people for not following the rules. Whether your speech is protected from government intrusion is irrelevant to that fact.

              Please learn the difference between “public” in the context of “public” vs “private” and “public” in the context of “publicly owned” vs “privately owned”. Refusal to do so will be treated as an acknowledgement of willful ignorance. Your further contributions will be read accordingly.

              reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

              • identicon
                Anonymous Coward, 9 Nov 2019 @ 6:11pm

                Re:

                Mr. Stone: Is it just my perception or does this person keep confusing (or deliberately conflating) publicly owned (as in by the state), and 'open to the public' while still being privately owned?

                reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

                • icon
                  Stephen T. Stone (profile), 9 Nov 2019 @ 6:40pm

                  Yes. Yes, they do.

                  reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

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                    identicon
                    Anonymous Coward, 9 Nov 2019 @ 10:37pm

                    Re:

                    No. He appears to be the only one who knows the difference.

                    "You’re free to do that until you’re told otherwise."

                    Thanks. I will. Facebook is still publicly owned, by the by. You can waltz right in and play just like at a private golf course though. Private as in operations, not ownership. Google it to learn the difference.

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                    • identicon
                      Anonymous Coward, 9 Nov 2019 @ 11:28pm

                      Re: Re:

                      No. He appears to be the only one who knows the difference.

                      Referring to yourself in the third person does not make your argument any more valid.

                      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

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                        identicon
                        Anonymous Coward, 10 Nov 2019 @ 12:37am

                        Re: Re: Re:

                        Nor does it invalidate it.

                        Your point is ____?

                        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

                        • identicon
                          Anonymous Coward, 10 Nov 2019 @ 5:37am

                          Re: Re: Re: Re:

                          Let's see... Richard Liebowitz is a copyright troll, Shiva Ayyadurai didn't invent email, Harder failed to nuke Techdirt from orbit... should I continue?

                          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

                      • icon
                        David (profile), 11 Nov 2019 @ 5:07am

                        Re: Re: Re:

                        No he isn't. Anyone with reasonable intelligence knows the difference.

                        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

                        • icon
                          David (profile), 11 Nov 2019 @ 5:10am

                          Re: Re: Re: Re:

                          I'll try to clarify the difference. If I stand in my from yard, I'm out in public but I'm not on public property. If I go to a local park, I'm out in public and on public property.

                          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

                    • identicon
                      Anonymous Coward, 10 Nov 2019 @ 1:48am

                      Re: Re:

                      And that is yet another usage-specific definition of "public" you drag in. Publicly-owned means any member of the public can buy shares, if they are able to afford them. It isn't the same as a public square, owned by all citizens. Maybe you should check with search engines on definitions also.

                      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

                      • icon
                        bhull242 (profile), 10 Nov 2019 @ 1:10pm

                        Re: Re: Re:

                        And that is yet another usage-specific definition of "public" you drag in.

                        Because “public” has multiple definitions that are usage-specific.

                        Publicly-owned means any member of the public can buy shares, if they are able to afford them.

                        No, that’s “publicly traded”, which is a subset of private corporations. “Publicly owned” means “owned by the government” or “owned by all citizens”.

                        Both of these are also distinct from “open to the public” and “viewable by the public”.

                        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

                    • icon
                      Stephen T. Stone (profile), 10 Nov 2019 @ 6:12am

                      Careful, son — your willful ignorance is showing.

                      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

                    • icon
                      Toom1275 (profile), 10 Nov 2019 @ 8:58am

                      Re: Re:

                      No. He appears to be the only one who knows the difference.

                      [Asserts facts not in evidence]

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                    • identicon
                      Anonymous Coward, 10 Nov 2019 @ 11:04am

                      Re: Re:

                      afaik, the term "publicly owned" when used by wallstreet refers to a corporation that sells shares to the public. In this case, FB is majority owned by Zuck and it is still referred to as publicly owned.

                      The Top 6 Shareholders of Facebook

                      G olf Courses that are open to the public are public access golf courses these may or may not be funded via the public that lives in the area. Private golf courses usually are limited to members and their guests. In either case the national general public (everyone in the country) does not own public golf courses as they are funded locally.

                      Not sure what this private business operations is all about, perhaps you could explain. Is this like NFL stadiums are paid for by taxpayers but owned by billionaires?

                      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

                    • icon
                      bhull242 (profile), 10 Nov 2019 @ 1:19pm

                      Re: Re:

                      I think you’re confusing Facebook the company with Facebook the service. Facebook the company is publicly owned in the sense that its shares are traded publicly. Facebook the service is privately owned as it is owned and operated by a non-government corporation (Facebook the company).

                      Thus far, Stephen has been talking about Facebook the service. He’s saying it’s privately owned and run (by Facebook the company) and open to the public, subject to restrictions Facebook has imposed. My understanding is that that’s also what the other guy is referring to, though I suppose that could be untrue. AFAICT, you’re the only one talking about the ownership of Facebook the company.

                      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

                      • icon
                        Stephen T. Stone (profile), 10 Nov 2019 @ 3:34pm

                        Facebook the company is privately owned through publicly traded shares The company isn’t “publicly owned” in the sense that all citizens/the government own it. This is just one of Willful Ignorance Anon’s mistakes. It won’t be the last time they make it, either.

                        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

                        • identicon
                          Anonymous Coward, 10 Nov 2019 @ 10:22pm

                          Re:

                          "Facebook the company is privately owned through publicly traded shares The company isn’t “publicly owned” in the sense that all citizens/the government own it."

                          This is correct and what I have been saying all along. I never said otherwise. I am sorry if you are too ignorant to understand that and would rather twist words, meanings and context just to try to win a point.

                          In App Purchase (IAP)

                          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

                          • icon
                            Stephen T. Stone (profile), 11 Nov 2019 @ 4:27am

                            This is correct and what I have been saying all along. I never said otherwise.

                            You haven’t been good at bullshitting us before. Why would you think you can get away with it now?

                            reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

                          • icon
                            Toom1275 (profile), 11 Nov 2019 @ 8:47am

                            Re: Re:

                            you are too ignorant to understand that and would rather twist words, meanings and context just to try to win a point.

                            [Asserts facts not in evidence]
                            (Because it's projection)

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                          • icon
                            bhull242 (profile), 13 Nov 2019 @ 10:14am

                            Re: Re:

                            Dude, from the way you worded your comments, that wasn’t clear at all. You never elaborated on what precisely you meant by “publicly owned” in a way that would even suggest you were talking about publicly traded shares. You also implied that being a “publicly owned” company had some relevance to the topic at hand, which it would not if it meant “publicly traded” rather than “owned by all citizens/the government”. It wasn’t at all a stretch to make the same assumptions Stephen made about what exactly you were actually claiming, even if it turns out that there was a misunderstanding. You were at least as responsible for the confusion as he was, though probably even more so.

                            You are also still confused about what it means for a platform or forum or something to be public or private. Facebook the service is privately owned and operated, but it is publicly accessible, and anyone can get a free, unlimited account to post content, which is what we mean when we say that the platform is public. You can get kicked out for “being disruptive” or something at Facebook the company’s sole discretion, and you can have posts flagged and/or removed for any reason, too, but that’s no different from being kicked out of a mall for any reason (other than for being a member of a protected class).

                            When we say “Techdirt and Facebook are public” (which we mean in the same sense), we are talking about “prerequisites for entry” for users not being imposed and not generally needing most posts to be preapproved. This does not mean that there aren’t any disciplinary measures that can be imposed after the fact, such as banning users or IP addresses, filtering messages to be checked later, or removing or hiding objectionable content. Nor does it say anything about any restrictions on when those measures may be imposed.

                            reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

                        • icon
                          bhull242 (profile), 13 Nov 2019 @ 9:51am

                          Re:

                          Facebook the company is privately owned through publicly traded shares The company isn’t “publicly owned” in the sense that all citizens/the government own it.

                          True. I was sort of addressing a comment by another AC who claimed that Wall Street uses the term “publicly owned” to refer to companies whose shares are publicly traded.

                          I thought I had put a sentence after, “Facebook the company is publicly owned in the sense that its shares are traded publicly,” that said, “It is not publicly owned in the sense that it is owned by all citizens or the government,” but I apparently forgot to include that. Additionally, this was actually meant to be a reply to that other AC. Whoops!

                          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

              • identicon
                Anonymous Coward, 14 Nov 2019 @ 11:55pm

                Re:

                Oh, look! Now trying to confuse exclusive with private.

                "Facebook isn’t a private (i.e., invitation-only) service..."

                Invitation only is exclusive.

                Maybe as you mature, you will be able to move up in class stature and learn what the differences are.

                reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 11 Nov 2019 @ 6:47am

        Re:

        Kind of like how Blitzchung isn't entitled to have his speech hosted on Blizzard's platform.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • icon
          Stephen T. Stone (profile), 11 Nov 2019 @ 7:04am

          Yep, Blitzchung can't force Blizzard to host his speech. But we’re still allowed to criticize Blizzard for what it did to Blitzchung — and its follow-up to that action.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

          • identicon
            Anonymous Coward, 11 Nov 2019 @ 7:52am

            Re:

            You're comfortable with Blizzard suffering repercussions when they're technically the victim here, since it was Blitzchung that forced his political message onto their strictly gaming-only platform.
            If Blizzard doesn't have to host Blitzchung's speech, then what are you objecting to? Would you even care about this if you didn't support the same cause that Blitzchung does?

            reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

            • icon
              Stephen T. Stone (profile), 11 Nov 2019 @ 8:24am

              If Blizzard doesn't have to host Blitzchung's speech, then what are you objecting to?

              Blizzard has every right to suspend players for doing what Blitzchung did. But flexing that particular power because he potentially upset a huge market for Blizzard makes the company look as if it bent the knee for an authoritarian state so it could make more money. I also wonder about the potential hypocrisy of the situation and the political stances Blizzard itself has taken. How would the company have reacted if Blitzchung had expressed support for LGBT people instead of the Hong Kong protests?

              reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

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                identicon
                Anonymous Coward, 11 Nov 2019 @ 9:21am

                Re:

                When you put it that way, sounds like they made the prudent business decision. Some might even go as far as to say that they had a duty to their shareholders that overrides any personal principles they may hold.

                I would go further, and say that the modern corporate structure they operate under specifically enables these people to make those kinds of decisions, without having to accept or feel personally responsible for the outcomes.

                Blizzard & Activision are massive global companies, I wonder how they decide which cultures and sets of laws they should be sensitive to?

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                • icon
                  Stephen T. Stone (profile), 11 Nov 2019 @ 9:28am

                  Some might even go as far as to say that they had a duty to their shareholders that overrides any personal principles they may hold.

                  In which case, we can say Blizzard has no principles — only attitudes of convenience, to be dropped at the first sign of trouble. Principles don’t go away in difficult times.

                  Blizzard & Activision are massive global companies, I wonder how they decide which cultures and sets of laws they should be sensitive to?

                  Money, dumbass.

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                    identicon
                    Anonymous Coward, 11 Nov 2019 @ 11:08am

                    Re:

                    That's uncalled for, Stephanie. You know, being polite costs you nothing and it pays dividends.

                    The only principle here is does Blizzard have the right to control what is broadcast on their platform. Blizzard says no politics on their streams. You should respect their rights to not be associated with political messages that could be damaging to their company.

                    When your only real objection is that they punished someone that you personally agree with, then you're in no position to talk about principles.

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                    • icon
                      Stephen T. Stone (profile), 11 Nov 2019 @ 12:59pm

                      You know, being polite costs you nothing and it pays dividends.

                      So does arguing in good faith. But since you’re not gonna do that any time soon, you get missives sent from the Angry Dome.

                      The only principle here is does Blizzard have the right to control what is broadcast on their platform.

                      It does. But, again, we can criticize Blizzard for how it flexes that control. Criticism is not censorship.

                      Blizzard says no politics on their streams. You should respect their rights to not be associated with political messages that could be damaging to their company.

                      Which is part of the reason I bring up the "trans rights" hypothetical: If Blitzchung had expressed a political message with which Blizzard agreed (or at least didn't think would hurt its bank account), would the company have punished him with the same speed and harshness?

                      When your only real objection is that they punished someone that you personally agree with, then you're in no position to talk about principles.

                      If and when Blizzard refuses to punish someone for saying “MAGA” on stream, or punishes someone who says “trans rights” with a lesser “sentence” than what Blitzchung got, I’ll object. If you flip “MAGA” and “trans rights” in that sentence, I’ll still object.

                      The issue isn’t the rules or the punishment — though they can be, if Blizzard applies them unfairly in the future. The issue is in how fast and harsh Blizzard followed through with the punishment after Blitzchung's statement, making it look as if the company wasn't so much upholding a rule as it was making sure it didn't upset the authoritarian regime of China.

                      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

                      • identicon
                        Anonymous Coward, 12 Nov 2019 @ 8:47am

                        Re:

                        Previously, I doubt Blizzard would have punished someone for expressing an opinion that wouldn't cause problems for the company. Going forward though, it may now be more likely that they'll have to punish everyone for political messages just to appear to be fair. The same may become true for other developers, publishers, and broadcasters that wish to move into controlled markets like China's.

                        A widespread simultaneous revolt of players and streamers is probably the only thing that can stop it from happening now, but that would require all of those people to act against their own personal interests.

                        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

                        • icon
                          Stephen T. Stone (profile), 12 Nov 2019 @ 9:04am

                          it may now be more likely that they'll have to punish everyone for political messages just to appear to be fair

                          Yes, that would be ideal. Blizzard should punish political speech it agrees with, and to the same degree as it would punish political speech with which the company disagrees. If it wants that rule in place, it should enforce the rule without favor, affection, malice, or ill will.

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            • icon
              Toom1275 (profile), 11 Nov 2019 @ 8:48am

              Re: Re:

              they're technically the victim here, since it was Blitzchung that forced his political message onto their strictly gaming-only platform.

              [Asserts facts not in evidence]

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                identicon
                Anonymous Coward, 11 Nov 2019 @ 8:57am

                Re: Re: Re:

                You can find clips of the broadcast on Youtube, if you are so inclined.

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                • icon
                  Toom1275 (profile), 11 Nov 2019 @ 9:34am

                  Re: Re: Re: Re:

                  Which still won't prove the false claims of yours I highlighted...

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                    identicon
                    Anonymous Coward, 11 Nov 2019 @ 9:48am

                    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                    Which part is false?

                    Blizzard doesn't provide a platform for political commentary. It's a gaming-related company. Blitzchung made a political statement on that platform, which is not a platform for politics. He did it knowing that he was breaking the rules, knowing that he would be punished for it. That was the catalyst to these events.

                    You only care that he was punished because you happen to agree with his message. If he had expressed support for China, instead of the protestors, you would be applauding the suspension.

                    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

                    • icon
                      Stephen T. Stone (profile), 11 Nov 2019 @ 10:08am

                      You only care that he was punished because you happen to agree with his message.

                      No, we care because we don't believe Blizzard would have suspended him for something with less “political” heat (e.g., supporting LGBT people). Blizzard bent its knee to China because of how any anti-Blizzard sentiment in China could hit the company in its bank account. It likely wouldn't have done that if Blitzchung had said “trans rights” — and if it had, it likely wouldn’t have handed down as harsh a punishment.

                      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

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                        identicon
                        Anonymous Coward, 11 Nov 2019 @ 11:18am

                        Re:

                        How's that line go? You constantly "Assert facts not in evidence". A bunch of people just parroting the line that Blizzard bent the knee to China doesn't make it so.

                        Keep shifting the goal posts, I see you. Now it's about what Blizzard "likely would have" or "likely wouldn't have" done, not about what they actually did. We've got a Future Crimes department here in TechDirt, awesome!

                        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

                        • icon
                          Stephen T. Stone (profile), 11 Nov 2019 @ 12:50pm

                          A bunch of people just parroting the line that Blizzard bent the knee to China doesn't make it so.

                          Blizzard suspended Blitzchung near-immediately after his comments on Hong Kong. Blizzard has an economic-based presence in China. Putting 2 and 2 together here is easy.

                          Now it's about what Blizzard "likely would have" or "likely wouldn't have" done, not about what they actually did.

                          Oh, I'm angry about what Blizzard actually did. But I can doubt whether it would’ve reacted the same way if Blitzchung had said “trans rights” — and subsequently wonder how hypocritical Blizzard would look in such a situation, given how quickly and harshly it punished Blitzchung for saying “liberate Hong Kong”.

                          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

                          • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
                            identicon
                            Anonymous Coward, 11 Nov 2019 @ 2:59pm

                            Re:

                            What if he said "no trans rights" though? How do you imagine Blizzard would act in that situation? I doubt you'd feel much anger about the punishment then. Your other examples are always of somebody giving support for a cause you already agree with, rather than speaking out against something.

                            A statement in favor of Hong Kong is a statement against China and the Chinese people. It is offensive to the rest of China to say that the residents of Hong Kong need to be liberated from their own country.

                            reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

                            • icon
                              Stephen T. Stone (profile), 11 Nov 2019 @ 3:08pm

                              What if he said "no trans rights" though? How do you imagine Blizzard would act in that situation? I doubt you'd feel much anger about the punishment then.

                              If the punishment was equal to Blitzchung’s in both speed and harshness? Maybe not, and I’m willing to own that stance. But if the punishment was inequal in some way, I’d call Blizzard on it regardless of how I felt about the message. Hypocrisy has no political alignment.

                              Your other examples are always of somebody giving support for a cause you already agree with

                              I don’t agree at all with Trumpism or “MAGA”. If you think I do, you need to look through my comment history here and disabuse yourself of that notion.

                              A statement in favor of Hong Kong is a statement against China and the Chinese people. It is offensive to the rest of China to say that the residents of Hong Kong need to be liberated from their own country.

                              The only reason for Blizzard to care about how China feels in re: Blitzchung’s statement is China’s massive economy. I doubt Blizzard would have given a shit if it didn’t have financial concerns about pissing off China — much like we’ve speculated that Blizzard wouldn’t have given a shit if Blitzchung had said “trans rights”.

                              reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

                              • identicon
                                Anonymous Coward, 11 Nov 2019 @ 4:12pm

                                Re:

                                Incidentally by claiming:

                                It is offensive to the rest of China to say that the residents of Hong Kong need to be liberated from their own country.

                                He is also saying that all of China is of one mind and nobody criticizes the governments choices. To me that looks an awful lot like claiming Chinese citizen are not allowed to dissent their governments decisions. I (and I suspect a least a few others on this planet) find that kind of behavior offensive as well.

                                reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

                                • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
                                  identicon
                                  Anonymous Coward, 12 Nov 2019 @ 6:31am

                                  Re: Re:

                                  Resentment towards Hong Kong actually doesn't have to do with the Chinese government, specifically, rather that the residents of Hong Kong were enjoying a privileged status in China that they went out of their way to deny to their fellow Chinese. Their privileges are now being removed, and the residents of Hong Kong will be subject to the same laws as the rest of the Chinese people.

                                  What is also being removed is the legal system that the government of Hong Kong uses to keep the residents of the Chinese mainland from immigrating to Hong Kong. Weird how that's not getting any mention at all in news sources that are usually super pro-immigration.

                                  There are lots of other historical reasons why the mainland Chinese don't like the people of Hong Kong, and vice versa. Cultural differences, ethnic differences, language differences, Hong Kong still being full of foreigners. So there's basically no support for Hong Kong in China even among the other political dissidents there.

                                  reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

                                  • identicon
                                    Anonymous Coward, 12 Nov 2019 @ 7:16am

                                    Re: Re: Re:

                                    You make it sound as though there are no Chinese citizens living in Hong Kong.

                                    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

                                    • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
                                      identicon
                                      Anonymous Coward, 12 Nov 2019 @ 8:28am

                                      Re: Re: Re: Re:

                                      How so? I was careful to distinguish between the Chinese citizens in Hong Kong and those on the mainland. Every citizen of Hong Kong is a citizen of China.

                                      Unless you mean citizens of Chinese descent, but that doesn't really make sense since most of the citizens of Hong Kong are of Chinese descent.

                                      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

                              • icon
                                That One Guy (profile), 11 Nov 2019 @ 9:00pm

                                Re:

                                If the punishment was equal to Blitzchung’s in both speed and harshness? Maybe not, and I’m willing to own that stance. But if the punishment was inequal in some way, I’d call Blizzard on it regardless of how I felt about the message. Hypocrisy has no political alignment.

                                That's been put to the test actually, and Blizzard does not come out looking good for it. As covered in the latest Jimquisition('Blizzard is Pathetic', at roughly the 5:10 mark) an Overwatch league 'pro' player was apparently suspended for homophobic remarks on livestream in late 21017/early 2018(based upon the screenshot I'm assuming that's the timeframe anyway). The response? Several weeks of suspension. Not a year that Blitzchung originally faced, or the six months that the sentence was 'graciously reduced to', but weeks.

                                If voicing support for a protest gets one a year suspension, reduced to half a year after the company tries to backpeddle, and homophobic remarks only gets a suspension of weeks, then it's pretty clear which Blizzard considers more serious and important to crack down on.

                                reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

                                • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
                                  identicon
                                  Anonymous Coward, 12 Nov 2019 @ 8:39am

                                  Re: Re:

                                  So their responses are proportional to the importance of the incident. How predictably reasonable for a business.

                                  reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

                                  • icon
                                    Stephen T. Stone (profile), 12 Nov 2019 @ 8:51am

                                    their responses are proportional to the importance of the incident

                                    Except they shouldn't be. Both the homophobic remarks and the Hong Kong statement are both political statements that require punishment under Blizzards rules. What makes the homophobic remarks (which can arguably spread hate and possibly inspire violence against gay people) less “important” than the Hong Kong statement (which was inarguably a show of support for the liberation of a group of people seen as living under totalitarian rule)?

                                    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

                                    • identicon
                                      Anonymous Coward, 12 Nov 2019 @ 9:27am

                                      Re:

                                      Importance is measured by risks, rewards, and the potential impact to the business. Under the modern corporate model they've been absolved personally of being able to make a moral decision about the 'rightness' of any particular decision.

                                      Instead they're duty-bound, and some would say legally required, to make decisions based on what is right for the company, its employees, and its shareholders. Within the bounds of the law, if possible.

                                      Not saying it's right, but it's how all businesses operate at that scale.

                                      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

                                      • icon
                                        Stephen T. Stone (profile), 12 Nov 2019 @ 10:03am

                                        Importance is measured by risks, rewards, and the potential impact to the business.

                                        Then Blizzard shouldn’t be surprised when it treats some political speech as less “important” than other political speech and gets called out on the obvious hypocrisy. If the company wants to punish political speech espoused by third parties on Blizzard platforms, it should punish all such speech equally. Whether Blizzard agrees with that speech is irrelevant.

                                        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

            • icon
              bhull242 (profile), 13 Nov 2019 @ 10:23am

              Re: Re:

              We can object to a specific exercise of the legal right while also believing that they absolutely have that right. Americans have freedom of speech, but I can still object to someone exercising that right in a manner I find distasteful, like spinning conspiracy theories or making a reckless claim not based on facts or giving half-truths in a political campaign. I will absolutely support their legal right to say those things I find distasteful while also criticizing their speech.

              In this case, Bizzard absolutely had the legal right to kick Blitzchung off their platform for his comments, and I support that right. However, I also don’t agree with their decision to do so. These feelings are completely consistent: I believe that should be able to do so, but I don’t believe that they should have done so.

              reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 9 Nov 2019 @ 1:12pm

      Re:

      Have you tried not being a spammer bro?

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    That One Guy (profile), 9 Nov 2019 @ 2:15am

    Better to say nothing than say an obvious lie

    And now Brack has explicitly stated in a recent interview that Blitzchung's 6 month ban will stay in place, further calling into question what the point of his "apology" was at all.

    Attempted damage control via an admission that they did something wrong, in the hopes that (gullible) people will be willing to forgive them and move on.

    The 'problem' is that by keeping the ban in place they've demonstrated that the 'apology' was nothing of the sort and was instead yet another blatant lie, making clear that they do not regret what they did but merely the fact that it blew up in their faces so spectacularly.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
      identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 11 Nov 2019 @ 6:28am

      Re: Better to say nothing than say an obvious lie

      If you look at the actual apology, it was for moving too quickly to enact the punishment. They're not apologizing for the ban or admitting it was wrong, they're sticking exactly to their stated position and policy.

      I've yet to see any Blizzard employees give public statements that have actually said they disagree with the ban either, it's always that they wish the company hadn't acted so hastily.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        Stephen T. Stone (profile), 11 Nov 2019 @ 9:30am

        If you look at the actual apology, it was for moving too quickly to enact the punishment.

        “We’re sorry for banning him too fast. Next time, we’ll wait a little longer before we pull bullshit like this on behalf of our rich foreign investors.” — Blizzard, probably

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
          identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 11 Nov 2019 @ 12:12pm

          Re:

          Responsible content moderation includes punishing or banning members that do things that are harmful to the platform and its community.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

          • icon
            Stephen T. Stone (profile), 11 Nov 2019 @ 1:01pm

            The only way “liberate Hong Kong” could harm Blizzard’s platform and community would be if it caused China to punish Blizzard economically.

            reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

            • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
              identicon
              Anonymous Coward, 11 Nov 2019 @ 2:51pm

              Re:

              Financial harm is more than enough. If a member of the community is causing financial harm to the community, they should be punished or expelled.

              But really what you mean is that it's the only way it can harm Blizzard's community if you ignore the already huge and rapidly-growing Chinese part of that community. You're only looking at his message from your own point of view. The statement "Liberate Hong Kong" is offensive to the Chinese people.

              Imagine if Blitzchung had spoken out against gay marriage, as an example. That would offend a lot of people, and the punishment would be equally swift and harsh.

              reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

              • icon
                Stephen T. Stone (profile), 11 Nov 2019 @ 4:04pm

                The statement "Liberate Hong Kong" is offensive to the Chinese people.

                Blizzard’s pro-LGBT stances likely offend those who hate queer people, but I don’t see Blizzard shying away from that.

                Blizzard didn’t suspend Blitzchung out of principle or because of concerns for the feelings of the Chinese people. It suspended him because not doing so threatened the approval from the Chinese government for Blizzard to run games in China. I understand that the ability to make money is a valid concern for a corporation and all, but bending the knee to an authoritarian government because of capitalism doesn’t make said knee-bending any less bullshit.

                reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

                • identicon
                  Anonymous Coward, 12 Nov 2019 @ 7:26am

                  Re:

                  It's easy to stand behind a principle when you've got the weight of public opinion on your side. Blizzard is pro-LGBT in 2019. How brave of them to take such a controversial stance.

                  Say we all agree that Blizzard did what they did to appease the government of China. So what? It's the responsible business decision, as you've agreed. Getting kicked out of China would cost the company billions. That harms the company, its employees, and its fans. On the flip-side, there is no benefit to the company from allowing its gaming-only streams to become open forums for sensitive issues. It's all risk, and zero gain.

                  I don't think it's reasonable to expect other people to take those kinds of business risks when there is so much at stake, frankly. I think it's completely absurd that anyone would expect a gaming company to stand up to the 2nd most powerful country in the world over a lost cause.

                  reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

                  • icon
                    Stephen T. Stone (profile), 12 Nov 2019 @ 8:57am

                    It's easy to stand behind a principle when you've got the weight of public opinion on your side.

                    Thank you, AC, that was the point.

                    A principle is a principle through times both easy and hard. Blizzard’s principled stand for free speech or whatever lasted until the company’s bank account was put at risk. At that point, the principle became an attitude of convenience that the company dropped because of inconvenience.

                    On the flip-side, there is no benefit to the company from allowing its gaming-only streams to become open forums for sensitive issues.

                    No one was asking Blizzard to do this. No one current is, either. If Blizzard plans to hand down punishments for political statements made on its official streams, it can at least punish them equally.

                    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

              • identicon
                Anonymous Coward, 11 Nov 2019 @ 4:15pm

                Re: Re:

                "The statement "Liberate Hong Kong" is offensive to the Chinese people."

                I'm not so sure about that ... did you poll them and what makes you think you would get an honest answer?

                I suspect that the phrase is offensive to those who rule whereas the ruled may have a different outlook upon the situation - no?

                Do the Chinese people of Hong Kong find it offensive?

                reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

                • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
                  identicon
                  Anonymous Coward, 12 Nov 2019 @ 6:43am

                  Re: Re: Re:

                  Most Chinese people don't consider themselves to be "ruled" any more than you do. People have a very weird idea of what life is actually like in mainland China. It's not full of secret democrats yearning to be free, they do actually believe in One China and its special destiny.

                  reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

                  • identicon
                    Anonymous Coward, 12 Nov 2019 @ 7:14am

                    Re: Re: Re: Re:

                    How much do you think I am "ruled" and why should I believe your claim that things in China are not much different? Even if things were the same, that makes it ok?

                    Very weird ideas may come from the news that escapes the confines of the great china firewall.

                    What is a secret democrat?

                    One China ... you mean the entire planet right? and we are supposed to look the other way while people are "colonized".

                    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

                    • identicon
                      Anonymous Coward, 12 Nov 2019 @ 9:00am

                      Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                      If you don't know what One China means or the significance of Hong Kong in China's history and their plans for the future, find out instead of demonstrating your ignorance here.

                      China doesn't care about colonizing the entire planet. China cares about enriching China, and unifying all of the places that historically were part of China. Everywhere that isn't China is an uncivilized place full of barbarians that smell faintly like sour milk.

                      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

                      • icon
                        Stephen T. Stone (profile), 12 Nov 2019 @ 10:04am

                        China doesn't care about colonizing the entire planet.

                        China has a billion people and an economy that lots of countries are coming to rely on. The government may not openly express a desire to colonize the world, but to think it doesn’t have that desire…well, that’s just plain ignorance.

                        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

                        • identicon
                          Anonymous Coward, 12 Nov 2019 @ 12:39pm

                          Re:

                          Dude. You know NOTHING about China. That is plain to see. Accept it. I know a LOT about China. I lived there for 8 years. My wife's family is from China. I go to Shanghai and Hong Kong for work every other year. I work with Chinese nationals and talk to them EVERY DAY.

                          Don't talk about ignorance ever again. You embody it and regurgitate it with every word.

                          You. Know. Nothing. About. China. You know nothing about Hong Kong, its people, or what is even at the heart of One China and Liberate Hong Kong. You don't know SHIT.

                          Get over yourself, and don't talk down to others who are trying to share facts just because they don't align with the opinions you've extracted from your ass.

                          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

                      • identicon
                        Anonymous Coward, 12 Nov 2019 @ 10:06am

                        Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                        How much are they paying you and how do I get in on some of this sweet action?

                        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

                  • identicon
                    Anonymous Coward, 12 Nov 2019 @ 7:37am

                    Re: Re: Re: Re:

                    Try telling that to the people of Tibet, or the Turkic people of Northern china amongst others.

                    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 9 Nov 2019 @ 3:28am

    Really? Are you sure you don’t have that ass-backwards?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Zgaidin (profile), 9 Nov 2019 @ 5:29am

    Consistency is key

    If, and it's a big if, they are/were consistent about this, I could almost see their point. If, for example, some other player made a pro-LGBT statement during one of their events and they banned him, too. Then, they could say, "Look guys, we support the LGBT community, but we were pretty clear before. Keep it game-focused at events." Best, for them, is if some Chinese player made pro-nationalist statements or statements against the protesters at an event, and they banned him, as well.

    I can see the point they're trying to make. None of us would bat an eye if they banned a player for statements supporting neo-Nazis or some other unacceptable (in the West) social opinion, but it's all sort of the same thing. If they didn't ban the neo-Nazi supporter, everyone would be up in arms about that, too. Either the players have the ability to speak out about whatever they want at these Blizzard hosted events (regardless of who might find it offensive) or they have a content neutral policy (keep it game focused, stay away from politics of all sorts). Otherwise, they wind up having to arbitrate which opinions are allowed and which aren't, and that's not a place they want to be. However, that all depends on them being very consistent with their policy. Bans for that sort of thing, regardless of the stated opinion, and only time will tell if they will be. For all I know, there are already historical examples of them not doing this, but as I pay no attention to Blizzard e-sports events, I wouldn't know.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      That One Guy (profile), 9 Nov 2019 @ 6:50am

      'That... uh... doesn't count. Not offensive, not at all.'

      Best, for them, is if some Chinese player made pro-nationalist statements or statements against the protesters at an event, and they banned him, as well.

      Given how quick they were to trip over their own feet to crack down on Blitzchung I imagine the CEO would literally sprout wings and fly before they'd ban a chinese player for that.

      None of us would bat an eye if they banned a player for statements supporting neo-Nazis or some other unacceptable (in the West) social opinion, but it's all sort of the same thing.

      To the extent that pro-Hong Kong statements and pro-neo-Nazi statements both use words, sure, beyond that not so much.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 10 Nov 2019 @ 12:23am

      Re: Consistency is key

      While I get what you're saying, conflating speaking up in support of the HK protests, or LGBT issues, or insert generic political issue here with supporting neo-Nazis is... wrong. Neo-nazis espouse an inherently violent philosophy. Your argument would have worked better if you'd stuck with something somewhat controversial but also not pro-ethnic cleansing, like Trump's wall.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    AnonyOps, 9 Nov 2019 @ 5:59am

    Next stop for Blizzard is hiring FCC Chairman Agit(Armpit) Pai. /s

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Pixelation, 9 Nov 2019 @ 7:55am

    More specific?

    Um, would Brack be more specific, please?

    "...say what they want in 'all kinds of ways and all kinds of places.' "

    Players should start speaking loudly in support of Hong Kong protesters in all kinds of ways and all kinds of places. Let's see what happens...

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 9 Nov 2019 @ 10:08am

    correction to the story text

    Brack said nothing whatsoever about "accepting responsibility". What he said was that he accepts "accountability", whatever that means.

    Those two words are most certainly not synonyms.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Agammamon, 9 Nov 2019 @ 10:53am

    So, let me get this straight.

    So, don't let players/commentators/audience say anything about political controversies but its ok to use the whole company to support political controversies?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Nono, 12 Nov 2019 @ 12:04pm

    Someone to step in.

    To make any boycott hurt some competition must come in and take an hold the market that they loose and use it as momentum to surpass them in the market.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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