President of Blizzard Entertainment, J. Allen Brack, has issued a statement in response to the controversial ban given to Ng Wai ‘Blitzchung’ Chung and two popular Hearthstone casters following Hong Kong protests during a GrandMasters tournament. However, the statement has not been well-received among the Hearthstone community.
Blitzchung left the shoutcasters and spectators stunned after making post-victory comments which supported the current political protests that are happening in Hong Kong, during an official Hearthstone GrandMasters broadcast on October 6.
Following Chung’s statement of: “Liberate Hong Kong; revolution of our times”, the Hearthstone player received a year–long ban and was stripped of his season earnings to-date — sparking reprisal from within the Hearthstone community.
Amid the backlash that ensued, the community rallied to support Chung, with #BoycottBlizzard trending on social media in the days after the ban was handed out.
Now, after days of silence, J. Allen Brack has written an open letter on Blizzard’s official website (in response to the controversial ban), published on October 12.
The statement reveals the rationale behind Blitzchung’s ban, alongside reflecting on what the game developer could have done better and what they will do moving forward to appropriately handle the situation.
Why was Blitzhung banned?
According to the open letter, Brack stated that “blitzchung used his segment to make a statement about the situation in Hong Kong — in violation of rules he acknowledged and understood, and this is why we took action.”
Moreover, the Blizzard President continued to stipulate that the content of the message was not the reason behind Chung’s ban: “The specific views expressed by blitzchung were NOT a factor in the decision we made. I want to be clear: our relationships in China had no influence on our decision.”
Blizzard criticized for statement
The Hearthstone community have come out in full force on social media to express their disproval of Brack's statement. One fan questioned the response: "Do you guys even know what an apology is?"
You guys screwed up. "Every voice matters....HOWEVER..."
FFS. Do you guys even know what an apology is? pic.twitter.com/MdlIsIsCRT
— :underage:BlueFantasy (commissions open) (@BlueFantasy17) October 12, 2019
While others have remained skeptical over the sincerity of the statement, doubting the sentiment behind Brack's words.
“our relationships in China had no influence on our decision.”
pressing X to doubt.
— Shitty Gamer Takes (@GamerTakes) October 12, 2019
I don’t think you realize how badly you let everyone down.
This isn’t “upon further examination” territory. This is “we betrayed ourselves” territory.
— Sam Sykes (@SamSykesSwears) October 12, 2019
Insincere and not good enough.
— Shannon Plante (@ShannonZKiller) October 12, 2019
Ex-Blizzard game designer, Mark Kern, explained that Blizzard's timing of the post (before the weekend and after work hours) is an attempt to conceal the story: "They want to bury this. Never forget."
The Blizzard PR was released on a Friday, after works hours.
We've done this at Blizzard for years when we knew we had bad news to share.
They want to bury this. Never forget.
— Mark Kern (@Grummz) October 12, 2019
Blizzard reflecting and moving forward
After listening to the Hearthstone community, Brack explained that they have reflected on their decision and in hindsight, their process “wasn’t adequate, and [they] reacted too quickly.”
Thus, the prohibition that was initially served to both casters and Blitzchung has been reduced to six months; alongside Chung's season earning being reinstated.
Hi everyone, thanks for your attention in recent times. I'm know a lot of media and gamer would like to know my future planning and thought on Blizzard latest decision. I'll see if I have time later on today to do a short stream answering as many questions as possible.
— Ng Wai Chung (@blitzchungHS) October 12, 2019
Given the scale and enormity of Blizzard's actions, those behind Chung's protest will be eager to hear his views after his ban reduction. Stay tuned into Dexerto for the latest, as the situation unfolds.