Despite Apology, Blizzard President Won't Repeal Hong Kong Protestor's Ban

By Alistair Jones on at

On stage at BlizzCon's opening ceremony, president J Allen Brack apologised for "fail[ing] in our purpose," over Blizzard's response to Hearthstone pro Blitzchung's Hong Kong protest, telling fans that "I am sorry, and I accept accountability." In a later interview with PC Gamer, however, Brack confirmed that the company would not be repealing the punishments levelled against either the player or the two commentators involved in the incident.

"We want the official broadcasts [...] to be about games," said Brack. "It's not about the content of Blitzchung's message. 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 we don't want to go down." Brack went on to suggest that Blitzchung would have been banned whatever he had said, saying that "there are many people" - presumably at Blizzard - "that are supportive of him and his message."

Blizzard's handling of the situation caused plenty of controversy in and of itself, but the company certainly wasn't helped by a post on Chinese social media site Weibo, which stated that those involved had been banned because "we will always respect and defend the pride of [China]." According to Brack, Blizzard has no legal right to operate that channel, and the company's Chinese publisher, NetEase, was entirely responsible for that message : "We did not authorise it. We did not approve it. We would not have approved it if [NetEase] had asked."

Nevertheless, when it comes down to Blitzchung's punishment, Brack says that NetEase was involved alongside Blizzard Taiwan, Hearthstone's leadership team, and Blizzard's esports team, and that their quick decision-making, rather than the player's sentiment, was "certainly the failure of this story."