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Blizzard has announced it’ll be reducing the severity of the punishment doled out to the Hearthstone player and shoutcasters involved in a controversial post-match interview last weekend.
However, according to a statement from Blizzard president J. Allen Brack, the company believes its decision to take action against those involved was the right call and in line with the company’s values of “Think Globally, Lead Responsibly, and Every Voice Matters,” though Brack admits it initially reacted too hastily.
“Moving forward, we will continue to apply tournament rules to ensure our official broadcasts remain focused on the game and are not a platform for divisive social or political views,” says Brack. “One of our goals at Blizzard is to make sure that every player, everywhere in the world, regardless of political views, religious beliefs, race, gender, or any other consideration always feels safe and welcome both competing in and playing our games.”
Earlier in the week news broke that Blizzard had revoked prize money and issued a 12 month ban to the Hearthstone player and Grandmaster tournament competitor Blitzchung after he used a post-game interview to voice his support of Hong Kong’s ongoing pro-democracy protests. The two shoutcasters on the other end of the interview were fired and given a 12-month ban.
Brack now says that all sentences will be reduced to better suit the infractions. Blitzchung will now still receive his prize money despite being expelled from the tournament, and suspensions for him and both shoutcasters have been reduced to six months.
“There is a consequence for taking the conversation away from the purpose of the event and disrupting or derailing the broadcast,” says Brack.
Despite admitting after the fact that its initial actions were excessive, Brack maintains that the decision to take action against those involved with the incident is in line with the companies values, and was in no way influenced by any relationship to China or Chinese companies, as many have since suggested.
“Part of Thinking Globally, Leading Responsibly, and Every Voice Matters is recognizing that we have players and fans in almost every country in the world. Our goal is to help players connect in areas of commonality, like their passion for our games, and create a sense of shared community,” says Brack. “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.”
Blizzard's full statement can be found here.