2019 has been a year for Blizzard, hasn’t it? It was quiet, and then one day, professional Hearthstone player Blitzchung said “Free Hong Kong” on an official broadcast and Blizzard subsequently banned him and the casters from competitive participation for a year (before reducing both parties’ suspensions to six months).
The fallout from their decision lead to many long time players of classic Blizzard games to close their accounts, boycotting any future releases until they finally communicated and committed to tangible action that proved that Blizzard could learn from this incident and find a balance between allowing its players to have their own voices while also focusing on the game their broadcasting.
Blizzard thought their opening statement at BlizzCon 2019 would make amends and ensure that none of their game announcements would not be overshadowed by this incident.
And yet here we are.
Blizzard’s opening statement starts off with J. Allen Brack saying that they had an opportunity to bring the world together in what they call “a tough Hearthstone esports moment,” downplaying the significance of the Blitzchung Incident and not even having the balls to say his name or what the incident was about. Quick sidenote - What fucking world are you referring to in trying to bring together?
Brack admits that Blizzard moved too fast in their decision making when punishing Blitzchung and the casters, and too slow to communicate with their playerbase about why they made the decisions that they did.
Brack then continues by saying Blizzard failed to live up to the high standards they set for themselves and says that Blizzard “failed in our purpose”, and then, in true calculated PR speech writing, pauses. Waiting the applause. Waiting for the crowd to put their hands together to signal that multi billion-dollar companies can fuck up, say sorry, announce new games, and all be right in the world.
And the crowd does exactly this. Brack smirks, delighted that unlike Herb in BoJack Horseman, who refuses to give BoJack closure for abandoning him when he needed a friend, the crowd’s thunderous applause says “yes, king, we forgive you.”
Brack continued by saying cliché bullshit about video games bring people together, and how actions are going to matter more than anything that was said.
In this split second, I had hope. Blizzard will finally commit to tangible action that proved that Blizzard could learn from this incident and find a balance between allowing its players to have their own voices while also focusing on the game their broadcasting.
And a second later, that hope died as Brack pretty much said their tangible action that proved Blizzard could learn from this incident and find a balance between allowing its players to have their own voices while also focusing on the game their broadcasting was basically allowing fucking protestors to protest them at BlizzCon.
No other corrective actions were announced or mentioned. None. No change in the rulebook, no announcement completely axing their suspension of Blitzchung, no nothing. They literally fucking said that they know their words mean nothing and hope that their actions speak louder, and it turns out that their actions are just them not doing anything about protestors at BlizzCon.
I challenge any professional player playing a Blizzard title to test that line of expression and see how far it goes. I guarantee the distance is short.