Blizzard kicked off the opening ceremony for Blizzcon 2019 with an apology for the Hong Kong scandal that broke out in October, after they banned Hearthstone pro Chung ‘Blitzchung’ Ng Wai for protesting against China during a tournament.
BlizzCon is currently underway and runs until November 2 in Anaheim, California. However, fans were unsure how the event would go as the American developer was mired in controversy after banning pro Hearthstone player Blitzchung for showing support for the Hong Kong protests during a tournament in October.
Blizzard President J. Allen Brack began the convention's opening ceremony by addressing the scandal – which angered many in the community – and gave a speech to fans, apologizing for how the company had handled the incident, while admitting they "failed" to live up to expectations.
Blizzard apologizes for Hong Kong scandal
Addressing the elephant in the room, the Blizzard executive said, "Before we start the opening ceremony I want to say a few words. Blizzard had the opportunity to bring the world together during a tough Hearthstone esports moment about a month ago and we did not."
He then explained that the company "moved too quickly" on their initial punishments for the player, and "were too slow" to communicate with their community about the decisions they had made.
The developer then outlined why he was not happy with how things were handled. "When I think about what I am most unhappy about, there is really two things. The first one is we didn't live up to the high standards we really set for ourselves," he said.
He then stated the second point, and apologized to the crowd. "And our second is that we failed to live up to our purpose. And for that, I am sorry. And I accept accountability," he said, which got a round of applause from the audience.
The President for the company then shifted towards the power and positivity that gaming can achieve, by bringing players from around the world to play together and "transcend divisions that surround us."
"We will do better moving forward. Our actions are going to mean more than these words", Brack finished.
The controversy first kicked off on October 6 when Hearthstone pro Blitzchung showed support for the Hong Kong protests in a post-tournament interview. The player was swiftly banned for a year, and had all prize winnings withheld.
While Blizzard reduced his suspension to six months and gave the prize money back, many were still angered. It remains to be seen if the President's speech at Blizzcon will heal the wounds of those upset by the scandal, but the developer was quick to address it before the annual convention kicked off this year.