Blizzard Entertainment has finally broken its silence on the controversy surrounding its suspension of a profession Hearthstone player for making a political statement.
Blizzard President J. Allen Brack announced that they have decided to lower Chung "Blitzchung" Ng Wai's suspension from the initial one year to just six months. They will also no longer strip the pro player of his earnings from the Hearthstone Grandmasters tournament.
Additionally, the game developer is also amending the penalty placed on the two casters involved in the incident, reducing their suspension to just half a year as well.
Upholding Blizzard's Core Values
In a lengthy post on Blizzard's website, Brack explained their decision to suspend Blitzchung in the first place.
He said that while the company tries to uphold its core values of focusing on diversity and global thinking, it also wants to keep its eSports events, such as the Hearthstone Grandmasters tournament, focused on the games.
Blitzchung violated the company's rule, but Brack said the issue there wasn't necessarily about the specific words that the pro player used.
"The specific views expressed by Blitzchung were not a factor in the decision we made," the Blizzard President said.
"I want to be clear: our relationships in China had no influence on our decision."
Brack pointed out that Blizzard has rules to keep the focus on the game, as well as on the tournament for the benefit of its international audience. He said that their decision to take action against the parties involved was based solely on that consideration.
He added that if an opposing viewpoint were delivered in the same "divisive and deliberate way," the company would have felt and acted on the matter similarly.
Commenting On The Fan Backlash
Brack also discussed the subsequent public backlash following their suspension of Blitzchung. The company recognized the concerns from players, casters, esports fans, and employees about how they determined the penalties to be handed out.
He said the incident gave them the chance to listen to Blizzard's community and reflect on what they could have done better in that situation. He admitted that the process they undertook was inadequate and that they had reacted too quickly.
The Blizzard President said they want to maintain a safe and inclusive environment for all Blizzard players, and that the company's rules and processes are clear. He added that it was in service of another one of the company's core values, which is "Play Nice; Play Fair."
Brack also pointed out that Blitzchung had "played" fairly throughout the tournament, and that is the reason they have decided to reinstate the pro player's prize money.