Overwatch's Jeff Kaplan Wants Hearthstone Player's Ban Shortened or Removed

Hearthstone player Ng Wai Chung had his ban from the competitive side of the game shortened after Blizzard responded to waves of immense backlash from in and outside of its community, but the pro-Hong Kong player still has a ban in place. If it were up to Overwatch’s game director and Blizzard vice president Jeff Kaplan, the ban against the player who’s better known as “Blitzchung” would be “reduced more or eliminated” entirely.

The controversy over Blizzard’s actions against Blitzchung has become a well-documented series of events by now that started with the player being banned after showing support for Hong Kong during a Hearthstone event. Blizzard shortened the ban that previously forbid Blitzchung from playing Hearthstone competitively for a year but ultimately said it wouldn’t be reversing the ban completely.

Enter Kaplan now who has his own take on the incident and what should be done. While speaking to The Washington Post, Kaplan said he thought the ban should be either shortened or repealed entirely.

“I was relieved when they reduced his suspension,” Kaplan told The Washington Post. "And I think the suspension should be reduced more or eliminated. But that’s just me.”

Kaplan’s take on the matter differs from J. Allen Brack’s the president of Blizzard who said the ban wouldn’t be reversed, but it’s not unusual to see the Blizzard employees publicly voice their disapproval of the outcome. Several of Blizzard’s employees staged a walkout over the controversy to show that they didn’t align with the company’s decision.

Kaplan added that he thought things moved too quickly around the Hearthstone ban, a sentiment Brack shared during BlizzCon’s opening ceremony. Recalling some of the Overwatch bas the team had to distribute in the game’s first competitive season, Kaplan said the process of deciding a punishment was usually much longer.

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“We had to deal with a few of them in season one in particular, and that process usually takes about four or five days to make the decision," Kaplan said. "There was always a group of us involved in deciding what the punishment should be, and we would heavily devil’s-advocate every part of the decision. So I was actually shocked that such a harsh penalty was levied.”

Kaplan closed out his comments by stressing that he’s speaking for himself and not for anyone else at Blizzard or within the Overwatch team. Blitzchung remains banned for now and said he wasn’t sure if he’d be coming back to the game once his ban is eventually over.