Earlier this week, we reported on the latest controversy to hit the gaming world, where Blizzard banned and took away the prize money of a professional Hearthstone player after he expressed his opinion for the Hong Kong riots during a Hearthstone Grandmasters tournament stream, which led to a #BoycottBlizzard movement and even Blizzard employees walking out in protest. Now, the president of Blizzard Entertainment, J. Allen Brack, has finally responded to the matter.
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J. Allen Brack has explained in a huge post the values of Blizzard, their tournament rules, what the player blitzchung did, why they banned the player and what Blizzard could have done differently. Blizzard notes that if it was the opposite political opinion on the Hong Kong riots, or if it was about another divisive subject entirely, the same action would have been taken.
For some, taking away blitzchung’s prize money going way too far and Blizzard is going to rectify this, as they now believe blitzchung should get his prize money, at least. Furthermore, the ban for blitzchung and the casters have been lowered from one year to six months.
I highly encourage you to read the full post by J. Allen Brack explaining the whole situation from the perspective of Blizzard. With that in mind, check out the highlights below.
On the topic of “were our actions based on the content of the message?”:
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. We have these rules to keep the focus on the game and on the tournament to the benefit of a global audience, and that was the only consideration in the actions we took. If this had been the opposing viewpoint delivered in the same divisive and deliberate way, we would have felt and acted the same.
On the topic of what could Blizzard have done better and where do they go from here:
Over the past few days, many players, casters, esports fans, and employees have expressed concerns about how we determined the penalties. We’ve had a chance to pause, to listen to our community, and to reflect on what we could have done better. In hindsight, our process wasn’t adequate, and we reacted too quickly.
We want to ensure that we maintain a safe and inclusive environment for all our players and that our rules and processes are clear. All of this is in service of another important Blizzard value – Play Nice; Play Fair. In the tournament itself blitzchung *played* fair. We now believe he should receive his prizing. We understand that for some this is not about the prize, and perhaps for others, it is disrespectful to even discuss it. That is not our intention.
Furthermore, Blizzard talks about lowering the ban to six months, moving forward, tournament rules and more:
But playing fair also includes appropriate pre-and post-match conduct, especially when a player accepts recognition for winning in a broadcast. When we think about the suspension, six months for blitzchung is more appropriate, after which time he can compete in the Hearthstone pro circuit again if he so chooses. There is a consequence for taking the conversation away from the purpose of the event and disrupting or derailing the broadcast.
With regard to the casters, remember their purpose is to keep the event focused on the tournament. That didn’t happen here, and we are setting their suspension to six months as well. Moving forward, we will continue to apply tournament rules to ensure our official broadcasts remain focused on the game and are not a platform for divisive social or political views. One of our goals at Blizzard is to make sure that every player, everywhere in the world, regardless of political views, religious beliefs, race, gender, or any other consideration always feels safe and welcome both competing in and playing our games.
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What do you think about the response from the president of Blizzard, J. Allen Brack, the whole #BoycottBlizzard due to the professional Hearthstone player expressing his political opinion on the Hong Kong riots, the reaction and everything about this controversy? Share your views in the comment section below and please remember to remain respectful to all parties.