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Blizzard VP, Overwatch director Jeff Kaplan wants blitzchung’s suspension ‘reduced more or eliminated’

Hobbes

Incident Manager
Verified
Oct 27, 2017
3,817
United States
Hearthstone player Ng Wai Chung, better known as blitzchung, remains suspended in the wake of his live-streamed protest in early October in favor of demonstrators in Hong Kong.

That is despite an apology to fans over the handling of the matter by Blizzard President J. Allen Brack at the start of the company’s mega-convention, BlizzCon. In the days since the convention, there are many who feel Blizzard has not done enough to correct its actions, even after it reduced the suspension from 12 to six months and returned the winnings it initially stripped from blitzchung. One of those people is Blizzard vice president and Overwatch game director Jeff Kaplan.

“I was relieved when they reduced his suspension,” Kaplan said in a Friday phone interview. "And I think the suspension should be reduced more or eliminated. But that’s just me.”
When Blizzard banned blitzchung there was overwhelming backlash. From congressional letters to social media posts, politicians, gamers and even prominent former Blizzard employees voiced their displeasure. Not only did many onlookers deem the punishment unfair, but there were concerns the studio was favoring its financial interests in China over free speech.

“I’m obviously a huge supporter of free speech; it’s something that’s very important to me," Kaplan said. “It got to me personally. I think the punishment was too harsh and I was greatly relieved when they gave his money back. I think that was extremely important."

It happened “way too quickly,” and came as a shock to Kaplan. He shared that most of his staff, including himself, didn’t know about the incident until they saw news articles on the subject. As someone who is regularly part of the conversation when it comes to handling suspensions and bans for the Overwatch League, he explained that normally these decisions are tactfully and thoughtfully considered.

“We had to deal with a few of them in season one in particular, and that process usually takes about four or five days to make the decision," Kaplan said. "There was always a group of us involved in deciding what the punishment should be, and we would heavily devil’s-advocate every part of the decision. So I was actually shocked that such a harsh penalty was levied.”

lock if old
 

LowParry

Member
Oct 26, 2017
2,327
Ever since Jeff did that stream of him sitting by the fireplace, I knew this guy was gold. And he's absolutely right. Hopefully he has enough pull to make those punishments gone for good.
 

Musubi

Member
Oct 25, 2017
5,627
At the very least the shoutcasters should be re-instated immediately. THAT is the biggest bullshit part of this. They had zero way of knowing or stopping what blitzchung was going to say.
 

Eumi

Member
Nov 3, 2017
3,309
Good on him for actually having the balls to speak up. Hopefully it’ll do more than just make people think Blizzard might change whilst they continue to pander to China’s terrible regime for profit.

I’d like to hope this is reflective of an internal conflict that might eventually effect how the company operates, but the cynic in me fully expects Blizzard to continue to let people say things like this but if push comes to shove again they’ll crumple.
 

Cort

Member
Nov 4, 2017
1,996
Jeff is one of the old faces at Blizzard. There's only a handful of them left I think.

Jeff
Sam Didier
Allen Adham
Bob Fitch
Glenn Stafford

Can't think of anyone else that's been there for 15 or more years...
 

Imran

Member
Oct 24, 2017
2,861
I mean, this is almost assuredly a statement approved by Blizzard. This allows the company to maintain a moral ground of saying "We don't shut our employees up" while still upholding their overall policy. They let Brack be the bad guy, as much as people will identify a bad guy here, alongside Netease, while simultaneously taking the heat off the faces for their upcoming games.
 
OP
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Hobbes

Hobbes

Incident Manager
Verified
Oct 27, 2017
3,817
United States
I mean, this is almost assuredly a statement approved by Blizzard. This allows the company to maintain a moral ground of saying "We don't shut our employees up" while still upholding their overall policy. They let Brack be the bad guy, as much as people will identify a bad guy here, alongside Netease, while simultaneously taking the heat off the faces for their upcoming games.
I don't think anyone is buying into that basket of bullshit. IMO, this is soley a kaplan statement.

Fuck Blizzard.

Free Hong Kong.
 

sweetmini

Member
Jun 12, 2019
1,058
Yeah, well, it's not yet your decision to make Mr. Kaplan, sadly, and might never do even if you reach the top if your hands are tied by the Chinese communist party. It seems he has a good aura so at least it doesn't seem like a PR orchestrated "look there are good guys at Blizzard" side mass-comm .
Still wanting to punish "a little" though (couldn't just say " eliminated ") ? Ban should be lifted and that's it . You don't ban an academy award recipient from acting in movies because they say "free tibet" in the receiving speech.

Anyway, for once, i won't put this thread on ignore list, in case there's an update.
 

SwitchedOff

Member
Oct 28, 2017
1,731
I mean, this is almost assuredly a statement approved by Blizzard. This allows the company to maintain a moral ground of saying "We don't shut our employees up" while still upholding their overall policy. They let Brack be the bad guy, as much as people will identify a bad guy here, alongside Netease, while simultaneously taking the heat off the faces for their upcoming games.
I was also thinking along similar lines.
 

Einbroch

Member
Oct 25, 2017
5,974
Wake up people. This was thought up by Blizzard so they can go "see, we don't censor our employees" and gain goodwill when nothing happens to Kaplan.

Follow the money.

edit: beetan
 
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Hobbes

Hobbes

Incident Manager
Verified
Oct 27, 2017
3,817
United States
Wake up people. This was thought up by Blizzard so they can go "see, we don't censor our employees" and gain goodwill when nothing happens to Kaplan.

Follow the money.

edit: beetan
Again, I don't think anyone here is buying this take. This is soley a kaplan move. Blizzard is still a shit run company.

I mean.. I could see it. *shrug*
I could see it, but I don't. At least not here where saying "WAKE UP SHEEPLE" is relevant.
 

Leviathan

Member
Oct 28, 2017
1,285
This thread would lead you to believe it's just him and like a few other good people over there. The reality is that the average person there probably feels the exact same way but doesn't have the clout to get away with saying it. Kudos to him though, for real.
 

Twinguistics

Member
Oct 27, 2017
472
Don't you people realise that the same media team behind the ceo's speech at blizcon is behind this quote too? It's a contrived move.
 

Won

Member
Oct 27, 2017
450
Wasn't aware he has the VP title.

Because at this point Kaplan should just leave the company. He clearly doesn't belong there anymore. But it's probably not that simple for him, even with his resume.

Until then, empty words.