The BlizzCon 2019 opening ceremony did not kick off with a game announcement, but with an apology. Blizzard President J. Allen Brack took the stage to address the company’s decision to ban professional esports player Blitzchung after he voiced his support for the Hong Kong protests during a Blizzard event.
During the Blizzard apology, Brack said he was taking responsibility for Blizzard’s actions.
“When I think about what I am most unhappy about, it’s really two things,” he said. “First, we didn’t live up to the high standards we really set for ourselves. And the second, we failed in our purpose. And for that I am sorry and I accept accountability. Blizzard had the opportunity to bring the world together in a tough Hearthstone esports moment about a month ago, and we did not. We moved too quickly in our decision making, and then to make matters worse, we were too slow to talk to all of you.”
According to Brack, Blizzard’s purpose is to “aspire to bring the world together in epic entertainment.” Going forward, Brack said he the company will do better and he also welcomed “fans to express themselves in all kinds of ways and in all kinds of places.”
Brack’s apology, however, did not go much into specifics (like naming Hong Kong or Blitzchung) nor did he go into much detail into what went wrong. Given these shortcomings, it should be interesting to see if fans accept the Blizzard apology, as well as what its response is going forward if more esports competitors step up in support of Hong Kong. Blitzchung, after all, is still banned.
This all spawned when Hearthstone player Blitzchung yelled “Liberate Hong Kong. Revolution of our age,” during an interview after a Grandmasters match. After quickly cutting to commercial, Blizzard announced that Blitzchung would be banned from Hearthstone tournaments for a year and would lose all prize money that he had earned during Grandmasters Season 2 play. After an outcry from fans, Blizzard reevaluated the situation and decided to reduce the ban to six months, as well as restore Blitzchung’s prize money. However, he incident outraged a lot of Blizzard’s community and has been a major headline in gaming media for the past few weeks.