Gaming publisher giant Activision Blizzard has been in hot water for several weeks now. This is after they banned professional Heartstone player Ng “Blitzchung” Wai Chung for showing his support for Hong Kong protestors on-camera. He and the two hosts watching (who didn't take part in making a stance either) were originally banned for a year over the controversy, but that has since been reduced to six months. Blitzchung will also receive the prize money he's rightfully deserved.
This entire mess has earned Blizzard a ton of ire from individuals who disagree with the company's actions. Many see this as their way to keep the Chinese government happy despite their actions hurting a person making a stand. Add in the unnecessary suspension of two innocent individuals, and many people seem to be looking for blood.
More recently, Blizzard has hosted its annual convention known as Blizzcon. With protestors standing outside chomping at the bit, those in attendance and watching on the outside wondered how the company would address the Hong Kong controversy. They did exactly that, with company president J. Allen Brack giving fans a direct apology, all while not mentioning Hong Kong or China whatsoever.
"Blizzard had the opportunity to bring the world together in a tough Hearthstone e-sports moment about a month ago. We did not. We moved too quickly in our decision-making and then to make matters worse, we were too slow to talk to all of you. When I think about how most unhappy I am, I think about two things. We didn’t live up to the higher standards we set for ourselves. Second, we failed in our purpose. For that, I am sorry, and I accept accountability," Brack said.
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This apology is a strong change from Blizzard's original stance. Before this, they had defended their decision to ban Blitzchung for showing his support for the protestors in Hong Kong.
"The specific views expressed by Blitzchung were not a factor in the decision we made. I want to be clear: our relationships in China had no influence on our decision. We have these rules to keep the focus on the game and on the tournament to the benefit of a global audience, and that was the only consideration in the actions we took. If this had been the opposing viewpoint delivered in the same divisive and deliberate way, we would have felt and acted the same," Brack previously said in a written statement.
Will this newer apology satisfy those who are upset with Blizzard? It's hard to tell right now. Only time will tell if people will begin to think better about Blizzard for this messy controversy.