In October, Blizzard suspended Hearthstone player Ng “blitzchung” Wai Chung for using his winner’s interview to call for democracy in Hong Kong. Originally, the developer banned blitzchung for a year and revoked $10,000 in prize winnings. Later, it returned his money and reduced the suspension — and that of two Taiwanese Hearthstone casters — to six months.
People have been boycotting Blizzard games and protested at Blizzard’s annual fan convention, BlizzCon, in response to the decision. On Nov. 1, Blizzard president J. Allen Brack said he was “sorry” for taking too long to address fans concerned by the decision. In an interview with PC Gamer following the opening ceremony, Brack said it will not revert its decision on blitzchung’s suspension.
Brack reiterated to PC Gamer that its official broadcasts are “about the game.” He said it was “not about the content of blitzchung’s message.”
Blizzard’s complicated history with China looms over BlizzCon 2019
“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,” Brack told PC Gamer. “They would become times for people to make a statement about whatever they wanted to, on whatever issue. That’s just a path that we don’t want to go down. We really want the content of those official broadcasts to be focused on the games, and keep that focus.”
During his speech, Brack did not directly address the decision to suspend blitzchung and the two Hearthstone casters — instead, he called it a “tough Hearthstone esports moment.”
“Blizzard had the opportunity to bring the world together in a tough Hearthstone esports moment about a month ago and we did not,” Brack said during the BlizzCon opening ceremony. “We moved too quickly in our decision, and then, to make matters worse, we were too slow to talk with all of you.”
Protesters assembled outside BlizzCon 2019 to support blitzchung and democracy in Hong Kong. Inside the Anaheim Convention Center, BlizzCon didn’t look too different than other years. There were a few Winnie the Pooh costumes on the show floor, a reference to a character banned in China after people began comparing it to Chinese president Xi Jingping. A few people at the World of Warcraft Q&A interrupted the session with calls for a Free Hong Kong, however.
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