On October 8th, Blizzard ended up in a media storm of gigantic proportions for severely punishing Blitzchung, a professional Hearthstone player who during a Grandmaster’s live expressed his solidarity with Hong Kong protesters wearing a mask and shouting ” Liberate Hong Kong “ .
The decision of the Irvine house – which banned the pro player for a year, removing it from the league and denying it cash prizes from the Hearthstone Grandmasters Season 2 – was not well received by the gamer community, which immediately launched into a protest of crazy proportions, even turning Mei of Overwatch into a symbol of protest . Last night, Blizzard President J. Allen Brack’s official comment finally arrived.
In one of the passages in the statement, Brack explained that Blizzard’s relations with Chinese partners played no role in the decision-making process: “The specific ideas expressed by Blitzchung did NOT play any role in the decision we made. I want to be clear: our relations with China have not influenced our decision”. Blizzard intends to ” keep the focus on the game and the tournament” , so it would have acted in the same way even if Blitzchung had expressed completely opposite opinions.
In any case, Brack admitted that the company made some mistakes in managing the situation and in the decision-making process with which the punishment was established: “We had the opportunity to stop and think, listen to the community and reflect on what we would have could have done better. In hindsight, our intervention was not adequate, we reacted too quickly “. As a result, Blizzard has decided to re-award Blitzchung the cash prizes he has regularly won since he “competed in the Hearthstone tournament fairly” . In addition, he has reduced the ban from one year to six months, a time frame defined as “more appropriate”
At the end of the release, Brack wrote: “Our goal at Blizzard is to make sure that every player, anywhere in the world, regardless of political views, religious beliefs, race, gender, and any other aspect, feels safe and welcome by competing for both by playing with our titles “.