This week, Blizzard was swallowed in controversy after banning pro Hearthstone player Blitzchung from competitive Hearthstone and taking away $10,000 in prize money from the player. The situation quickly blew up into a massive debacle that made the mainstream news, caused a walk out within the company, and prompted large scale boycotts. That said, after days of silence on the situation, Blizzard has released an official statement addressing the matter. More specifically, Blizzard president J. Allen Brack has released an official company statement that defends the actions the company took against the aforementioned player, but also reveals that Blizzard has decided to lessen the punishments for all involved, and award Blitzchung his prize money as well.
"I want to take a few minutes to talk to all of you about the Hearthstone Grandmasters tournament this past weekend," writes Brack. "On Monday, we made the decision to take action against a player named blitzchung and two shoutcasters after the player shared his views on what’s happening in Hong Kong on our official broadcast channel. At Blizzard, our vision is 'to bring the world together through epic entertainment.' And we have core values that apply here: Think Globally; Lead Responsibly; and importantly, Every Voice Matters, encouraging everybody to share their point of view. The actions that we took over the weekend are causing people to question if we are still committed to these values. We absolutely are and I will explain."
"Our esports programs are an expression of our vision and our values. Esports exist to create opportunities for players from around the world, from different cultures, and from different backgrounds, to come together to compete and share their passion for gaming. It is extremely important to us to protect these channels and the purpose they serve: to bring the world together through epic entertainment, celebrate our players, and build diverse and inclusive communities."
Brack continued by noting that Blitzchung was punished and banned for violation of an agreement the player had signed with Blizzard, and that the banning had nothing to do with what the player said specifically. At this point, Brack insisted the company's relationship with China had no impact on the decision.
Brack also notes how the company could have handled the situation better, acknowledging the situation was handled far too quickly. Further, Blizzard believes the initial punishment was too severe, which is why the banning has been reduced from one year to six months. Further, Blitzchung has been awarded his prize money.
As for the casters who were banned during the interview where Blitzchung spoke about Hong Kong, their ban has also been reduced from one year to six months. As for why they were banned, Brack alleges they failed to do their job and keep the broadcast about the event at hand. As you may know, they hid under the desk when Blitzchung started talking about Hong Kong.
"Moving forward, we will continue to apply tournament rules to ensure our official broadcasts remain focused on the game and are not a platform for divisive social or political views," adds Brack.11comments
"One of our goals at Blizzard is to make sure that every player, everywhere in the world, regardless of political views, religious beliefs, race, gender, or any other consideration always feels safe and welcome both competing in and playing our games. At Blizzard, we are always listening and finding ways to improve—it is part of our culture. Thank you for your patience with us as we continue to learn."