Blizzard began its opening ceremony for BlizzCon 2019 with an additional statement in regards to the recent controversy the studio has been a part of since it banned professional Hearthstone player Blitzchung for expressing support for the Hong Kong protests. Afterward, GameSpot caught up with Blizzard president J. Allen Brack to talk about the opening speech.
“It’s probably not a secret that it’s been a hard month for Blizzard,” Brack said. “It’s been hard for the community. It’s been a hard month for the employees. And I think there’s just been a lot of confusion and a lot of misinformation and a lot of challenges that everyone has had as a result. Frankly, there was never really a conversation where we weren’t going to do that because to not at least have a really straightforward conversation with our community about that would have appeared extremely tone-deaf in my mind. So it’s the right thing to do. We felt very strongly that we had to do it, otherwise it just would be looming, kind of hanging over us for the rest of the show.”
He continued, “I haven’t actually read any of the feedback of what was said this morning yet. Very early on–one of the very first conversations when we made our statement and walked back the penalty and restored [Blitzchung] winnings–we actually had a personal conversation with Blitzchung and we apologized to him for how the situation had gone and … [how] no one was happy with how we ended up here. And so [today’s statement] was less [about] that specific [incident] and more about the overall of what everyone [has thought] and what everyone has read and what everyone has heard and sort of have a reset–like what are the values that we have that somehow have been lost; that narrative [has] been lost in the last month.”
Brack made no mention of the specifics surrounding the controversy and also didn’t follow-up with any announcements of how Blizzard plans on changing its position or amending its actions. However, Brack said that the company has a history of learning from its mistakes and will continue to do so going forward.
“We have a culture of learning. We have a culture of improving. We have a culture of iteration. This has exposed to a whole bunch of things that need to go differently next time. I said this morning, I said we acted too quickly. Absolutely. Did we have the right constituents in the room to make the decision and to have the right time in order to kind of be successful? Clearly that’s something that we need to do differently going forward.
“Are the rules clear to everyone? Does everyone understand kind of what the expectations are and what the penalties are going to be going forward? Clearly there was some kind of work to do for that going forward. I don’t think anyone is excited about this last month from that perspective. Things could be done differently.”
Blizzard followed Brack’s opening speech with several announcements. The most significant of which were the reveal of Diablo IV, Overwatch 2, and World of Warcraft: Shadowlands. Our coverage of the event is in the pinbox below.