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

Oct 25, 2017
2,076
Kaplan's a good egg and it's a loss to Blizzard's other games and genres that he's on Overwatch instead. Public pressure from someone more or less untouchable is one of the few remaining vectors for getting anything done, and hardly anyone else there is in his position.

This has long ceased to be about the ban, though, and about the mismanagement and messaging. I've had a lot of Blizzard-related conversations in the past few weeks with twenty-year players like myself who have certainly not forgiven anything after BlizzCon and are ready to extricate themselves. These are people who run active clans and guilds or are otherwise so deep in the Blizzard tank that it's not just a matter of shutting off the tap, but they all know, better than Blizzard seems to know themselves, what a serious line has been crossed.

And after thinking about it, I know what my red line is. J Allen Brack must go.

It won't happen until a few more critical fumbles and alarming metrics; it's unlikely to improve anything with Blizzard's relationship with China or change their behaviour with similar situations in the future; it has an even chance of making matters even worse if more executive interference from Activision bleeds in, as Brack was supposedly set up for the position as a long-timer from the Blizzard side who could forestall the erosion of the cracking Activision/Blizzard firewall. I concede all that. But this fiasco, from one response to the next, has been an abject failure of leadership. Sheer incompetence and cowardice from end to end. He claims he's accountable: so be it. Make him accountable. I'll put in an order for Shadowlands the day that Brack resigns. Until then, nothing.
 

Paz

Member
Nov 1, 2017
1,341
Brisbane, Australia
We had reports of blizzard employees protesting the punishments the day after it all went down, people claiming this is just pr smoke screen are ignoring how clear it is that many at blizzard disagree with the actions the company took.

Unfortunately if you’re not the person at the top you don’t get to make those decisions.
 

Eumi

Member
Nov 3, 2017
3,354
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 could see it, but I don't. At least not here where saying "WAKE UP SHEEPLE" is relevant.
It’s not one or the other.

I fully believe that Kaplan is saying this because he believes it, and it was unprompted.

I also believe that Blizzard as a company are using Kaplan’s own personal beliefs as a way to cool off the criticism they’re getting.
 

Syril

Member
Oct 26, 2017
4,696
It's nice that he's in a position to be able to say that publicly, but talk is pretty cheap at this point.
 

Quacktion

Member
Oct 27, 2017
2,891
I do feel bad for Blizzard, since all these decisions are probably coming from the top AKA Activision. I wont be buying any of their games, Free Hong Kong and all, but I do feel they arent exactly thrilled to be doing all this, especially rushing announcements in hopes of hushing the public which I see as a very Kotic move. I dunno, I'd like to believe there are more people over there not happy about bending over to China than those who dont care as long as they get their paycheck.
 
Oct 27, 2017
6,067
cynical brain: they are letting him say this so they gain some good will from the public. "well at least HE'S good!" and people will feel good about supporting blizzard again
 

MadLaughter

Avenger
Oct 25, 2017
2,444
I think Kaplan is the gold standard for individuals that are the face of live games. His transparency, his humor, his knowledge, his willingness to engage with the community, he made a harambe joke once and that was the only time I've ever raised an eyebrow at him.
 

dan2026

Member
Oct 25, 2017
3,160
They need to get rid of that creepy Brack guy.
The guy is so slimy he makes me skin crawl.
 

chrominance

Member
Oct 25, 2017
3,024
One wildcard in all this is China. NBA commissioner Adam Silver said China asked the NBA to fire Daryl Morey after his tweet in support of Hong Kong, to which China replied no we didn't, but the NBA knows what it needs to do to make things right. Take that however you will.

If we were just talking about Blizzard, then sure, maybe they're trotting Kaplan out as an example of how they're actually not that bad after all, despite not doing anything about a punishment they now say was premature. But if China comes back and says "actually now we want Kaplan fired or you're out of the country," what then? That feels like a big risk for Blizzard to take unless they had been assured in advance that China wouldn't make any such demands. That makes me think a little more that Blizzard didn't vet his statement in advance. But ultimately, who knows.

Also, what does it change? Unless this is the tide turning at Blizzard and blitzchung's suspension is about to be lifted entirely, this changes nothing. Kaplan can feel however he feels, but at best it just shows that Blizzard the company has different values than even some of its most visible, highest ranking execs, who are either unable or unwilling to assert those values over the corporate ones.
 

Psychoward

Member
Nov 7, 2017
19,972
It’s not one or the other.

I fully believe that Kaplan is saying this because he believes it, and it was unprompted.

I also believe that Blizzard as a company are using Kaplan’s own personal beliefs as a way to cool off the criticism they’re getting.
Yeah this is probably accurate.
 

Cels

Member
Oct 26, 2017
1,917
"Whoever came up with this sheer fisting of a punishment for blitzchung can go fuck themselves."

-Jeff "tigole bitties" Kaplan
 

easter

Member
Nov 15, 2017
321
i dont want to be the conspiracy theorist but cant this possibly be a well calculated decision from the company big wigs? having someone kind of disagree with the decision softens the effect a bit more and gives off the message that not all blizzard agrees. even KAPLAN disagrees. he does seem like a cool dude, obvs, but u never know these days.

edit: if i was a PR dude this is the type of hijinx i would suggest in a closed meeting with relevant stakeholders.
edit2: because its not like he mentions HK or anything. and 2) im sure him saying that was carefully vetted by the company
 

xeecee

Member
Oct 27, 2017
808
What a weird thing to assume.
It’s not an assumption. Making Jeff out to be some sort of outspoken hero sticking it to his bosses here is weird.

I’m sure this is his earnest opinion, but Blizzard is probably fully aware that letting someone as beloved (maybe the last beloved public figure at the company) as him speak his mind on this is a good look for them overall. Look how many posts in here are already running with the “well Blizzard sucks but at least Jeff is still good!” narrative.
 

Cort

Member
Nov 4, 2017
2,016
i dont want to be the conspiracy theorist but cant this possibly be a well calculated decision from the company big wigs? having someone kind of disagree with the decision softens the effect a bit more and gives off the message that not all blizzard agrees. even KAPLAN disagrees. he does seem like a cool dude, obvs, but u never know these days.

edit: if i was a PR dude this is the type of hijinx i would suggest in a closed meeting with relevant stakeholders.
We're talking large sums of Eastern money. Dissenting opinion to try to win over what would equate to a small portion of western audiences isn't going to be a great strategy if it threatens your Eastern profits.
 

pegaso

Member
Oct 28, 2017
54
Blizzard is probably fully aware that letting someone as beloved (maybe the last beloved public figure at the company) as him speak his mind on this is a good look for them overall.
This sort of implies that Activision Blizzard knew beforehand that he was going to say these things, which is kind of a big assumption.
 

easter

Member
Nov 15, 2017
321
We're talking large sums of Eastern money. Dissenting opinion to try to win over what would equate to a small portion of western audiences isn't going to be a great strategy if it threatens your Eastern profits.
true but nothing he says really adds fuel to the fire. its very light and focused on the ban and not the issue.

"reduced more or eliminated" is as soft a comment you could possibly add and gain some goodwill
 
OP
OP
Hobbes

Hobbes

Incident Manager
Verified
Oct 27, 2017
4,030
United States
Making Jeff out to be some sort of outspoken hero sticking it to his bosses here is weird.
I don't think I ever made that statement, but feel free to quote me where I said it if you find it.

I’m sure this is his earnest opinion, but Blizzard is probably fully aware that letting someone as beloved (maybe the last beloved public figure at the company) as him speak his mind on this is a good look for them overall. Look how many posts in here are already running with the “well Blizzard sucks but at least Jeff is still good!” narrative.
Who cares if they think that? That's not what I think and that's my point. Blizzard does suck and I'm glad someone like Jeff feels that the punishment should be eliminated. Does that change what I think of Blizzard? Nope. Dunno why you think it does, and dunno why you think people here now suddenly believe blizzard is good and hong kong is free and all is right with the world because one person at the company said he thinks the punishment is shit.
 

Mewn

Avenger
Oct 25, 2017
2,090
UK
I'm minded to believe this is Kaplan's genuine opinion, and good on him if so. I imagine Blizzard will use it as a 'look, we do promote free speech after all!' gotcha while doing nothing further on the Blitzchung/caster ban, but I'm not sure this is a contrived PR move - Blizzard will probably just figure they could do a lot worse than letting the man speak his mind on this occasion.
 

xeecee

Member
Oct 27, 2017
808
This sort of implies that Activision Blizzard knew beforehand that he was going to say these things, which is kind of a big assumption.
two things:

for one, Jeff is not exactly some guy from the mail room. It’s not a big assumption to guess that his position is probably well known at the company.

secondly, even if this came out of nowhere for Jeff’s bosses, they will roll with these punches quite easily. What’s Jeff going to do? Leave? This is a win-win for them. I would love to be proven wrong, mind you, but I doubt this will move the needle at all at Blizzard.

everyone’s gotta get more cynical about how corporations work. If you think you’re being too cynical you definitely aren’t being cynical enough.
 

pegaso

Member
Oct 28, 2017
54
"reduced more or eliminated" is as soft a comment you could possibly add and gain some goodwill
Asking for the ban to be eliminated is literally condemning the punishment and ActiBlizzard's politics. Other than screaming 'Free Hong Kong' during the interview, he couldn't have sent a clearer message...
 

xeecee

Member
Oct 27, 2017
808
I don't think I ever made that statement, but feel free to quote me where I said it if you find it.

here’s the post you quoted:

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.
Deeply cynical, and imo quite rightfully. I think at best Jeff’s statement here is lip service. Blizzard collects a free smokescreen by having a prominent employee —the fucking VP!!!— in charge of one of their biggest moneymakers get some good headlines. Nothing changes.

Now here’s your post:

I don't think anyone is buying into that basket of bullshit. IMO, this is soley a kaplan statement.

Fuck Blizzard.

Free Hong Kong.
No one is buying what bullshit, exactly? Imran’s post isn’t bullshit; it’s pretty astute. Companies know how to leverage things like this in times of PR crisis. Unless Jeff is throwing his weight around at the company to affect change or Blizzard fires him tomorrow for insubordination, I think it’s entirely fair to be wary and cynical about the impact of this interview.
 

TatteredHat

Member
Oct 26, 2017
2,088
1) Whoa, Jeff is VP now.
2) He's still a good guy, and that's great to hear.
3) It's all just PR until something actually happens, he's a VP, he should have the clout to make things move.

He should just move on, it feels like he's staying for the people working under him, but he's way too good for that company.
 

pegaso

Member
Oct 28, 2017
54
two things:

for one, Jeff is not exactly some guy from the mail room. It’s not a big assumption to guess that his position is probably well known at the company.

secondly, even if this came out of nowhere for Jeff’s bosses, they will roll with these punches quite easily. What’s Jeff going to do? Leave? This is a win-win for them. I would love to be proven wrong, mind you, but I doubt this will move the needle at all at Blizzard.

everyone’s gotta get more cynical about how corporations work. If you think you’re being too cynical you definitely aren’t being cynical enough.
Oh I'm all for being cynical about corporations, believe me. But I like to be a little less cynical about people, and consider the option that Kaplan is just speaking sincerely. Yes, it may be now used by ActiBlizzard (we would say the same about radio silence and the forgetfulness of the people, mind you), but to automatically turn what may be the honest expression of someone's conscience into corporate ploy, well... it makes me uncomfortable. We turn everything into a situation where uncommon public dissent like this is corp PR, but then silence is corp PR too?

That said, I understand where you come from, and I might as well be wrong. I guess I just trust Kaplan.
 

xeecee

Member
Oct 27, 2017
808
That this takes the heat off them for their upcoming games, or somehow erases their bad reputation.
oh, for sure.

Kaplan is literally too good for Blizzard.
I knew Jeff Kaplan was one of the good ones.
Fire Brack and replace him with Jeff
Kaplan is the real next hero of overwatch
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.
Yeah Kaplan is a good dude, takes the overwatch fan base’s shit like a champ too. Hopefully someone will actually do something.
Jeff really is this shining light in the middle of the darkness.
Jeff is everyone's video game dad
Kaplan is good people
Kaplan, as usual, seems like a genuinely good dude
Jeff Kaplan is the vice president of the company.
 

Bufbaf

Member
Oct 25, 2017
2,584
Hamburg, Germany

Nepenthe

When the music hits, you feel no pain.
Moderator
Oct 25, 2017
6,378
Whether or not Kaplan was pressured to say this doesn't matter because he has fuck all to do with the decisions that matter regarding Blizzard's relationship with China. It's a meaningless platitude.
 

pegaso

Member
Oct 28, 2017
54
A lot of people making big statements here about Kaplan's VP position ignoring that being one of the VPs at Blizzard Interactive (the ones that develop the game) probably means veeeeery little in the hierarchy of its holding company Activision Blizzard (you know, the one that handles the big business). It's hilarious that you think that Kaplan has a significant role in Overwatch development and also a say in the business strategy and relations with China.
 

Liyfda

Member
Oct 27, 2017
228
Sorry for being ignorant about business structure, but how did all of this fly by Kaplan. I understand he’s busy with Overwatch 2, but it’s wild that a VP was caught off-guard by a company decision.

Good to hear him speak out anyways.
 

xeecee

Member
Oct 27, 2017
808
Whether or not Kaplan was pressured to say this doesn't matter because he has fuck all to do with the decisions that matter regarding Blizzard's relationship with China. It's a meaningless platitude.
A lot of people making big statements here about Kaplan's VP position ignoring that being one of the VPs at Blizzard Interactive (the ones that develop the game) probably means veeeeery little in the hierarchy of its holding company Activision Blizzard (you know, the one that handles the big business). It's hilarious that you think that Kaplan has a significant role in Overwatch development and also a say in the business strategy and relations with China.
Is it a bold statement? Seeing how he has "fuck all" to do with being able to change the decision. I don't think you're excactly wrong here, but I think it just goes to show that this is a net positive PR move for Blizzard at the end of the day whether it was pre-approved or not. The beloved Overwatch guy said what everyone wanted to hear, but can't change anything and certainly won't take his ball and go home. A core Blizzard product comes out of this with good headlines.

but again: he is the vice president of Blizzard, and is in charge of one of the most successful products Blizzard sells right now. He doesn't call the Acti-Blizz business shots, but like I said, he's not exactly the mail guy either. It's good that he thinks Blizzard's decision was bad, but ultimately it is lip service unless he throws his weight around a little stronger than "well i think it should be reduced or maybe eliminated but that's just me"
 

Karish

Member
Oct 25, 2017
1,022
A lot of people making big statements here about Kaplan's VP position ignoring that being one of the VPs at Blizzard Interactive (the ones that develop the game) probably means veeeeery little in the hierarchy of its holding company Activision Blizzard (you know, the one that handles the big business). It's hilarious that you think that Kaplan has a significant role in Overwatch development and also a say in the business strategy and relations with China.
It's still a big deal.