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On Friday evening, Blizzard Entertainment president J. Allen Brack released a statement in response to a week of ongoing criticism from players, developers, and even politicians more than its choice to ban pro Hearthstone player Chung “Blitzchung” Ng Wai and strip him of earned prize funds for supporting Hong Kong protesters in a post-match interview this week.
“Our esports applications are an expression of our vision and our values,” Brack stated. “Esports exist to develop possibilities for players from about the globe, from distinct cultures, and from distinct backgrounds, to come with each other to compete and share their passion for gaming. It is incredibly significant to us to safeguard these channels and the objective they serve: to bring the globe with each other by means of epic entertainment, celebrate our players, and develop diverse and inclusive communities.”
Offered the massive accomplishment Activision Blizzard has enjoyed in mainland China and the almost five% ownership stake Chinese gaming giant Tencent owns in the publisher, the punishment handed down for Blitzchung has largely been interpreted as a way to stay clear of threatening the company’s Chinese organization interests. In its statement, Blizzard insisted that wasn’t the case.
“The certain views expressed by Blitzchung have been NOT a issue in the choice we created,” Brack stated. “I want to be clear: our relationships in China had no influence on our choice. We have these guidelines to retain the concentrate on the game and on the tournament to the advantage of a international audience, and that was the only consideration in the actions we took. If this had been the opposing viewpoint delivered in the very same divisive and deliberate way, we would have felt and acted the very same.”
Regardless of that, Blizzard did decrease the punishments, with Brack saying that “In hindsight, our method wasn’t sufficient, and we reacted as well rapidly.” Brack stated Blitzchung would obtain the prize funds he had earned right after all, and his ban from the Hearthstone pro circuit has been lowered from 1 year to six months.
“There is a consequence for taking the conversation away from the objective of the occasion and disrupting or derailing the broadcast,” Brack stated right after detailing the lessened penalties.
As for the broadcasters who have been interviewing Blitzchung, Blizzard initially severed ties to them, but Brack stated the organization is suspending them for six months alternatively mainly because “their objective is to retain the occasion focused on the tournament” and that did not occur in this case.
“Moving forward, we will continue to apply tournament guidelines to guarantee our official broadcasts stay focused on the game and are not a platform for divisive social or political views,” Brack stated. “One particular of our targets at Blizzard is to make confident that just about every player, everywhere in the globe, regardless of political views, religious beliefs, race, gender, or any other consideration usually feels secure and welcome each competing in and playing our games.”
Blizzard may possibly have problems attempting to retain the concentrate on the games when the company’s annual BlizzCon starts November 1. Kotaku reported these days on many protest groups organizing actions about the show, with organizers saying that Friday night’s statement did tiny to adjust their plans.