Rebekah D. November 2, 2019
Blizzard president J. Allen Brack introduced the Blizzcon gaming convention today with an attempt at a personal apology.
His message spoke of Blizzard’s goal to unite people through the medium of video games, and indirectly spoke to the recent situation involving Hearthstone player Ng “blitzchung” Wai Chung having been a mistake.
The opening ceremony of BlizzCon, Blizzard’s own showcase convention, usually starts with the biggest news that the developer has to offer. However, with the recent controversy with Hearthstone player blitzchung, the 2019 celebrations started a little differently. As soon as Brack walked on stage, he began an apology on behalf of the company.
“Blizzard had the opportunity to bring the world together in a tough Hearthstone esports moment about a month ago. We did not,” Brack said.
The Blizzard executive was clearly making reference to the initial banning of the Grandmaster level Hearthstone player. As he continued his speech, Brack stated that the actions of Blizzard failed to live up to their own standards, and to the expectations of the company’s fans.
Those standards, he explained, were based in diversity and using video games to bring audiences from varying backgrounds together. Brack highlighted that there were representatives from a total of 59 different countries at this year’s convention, and that this was the purpose of the company.
Brack offered no specific assurances beyond the broad strokes that were often similar in tone to those given through a press release that largely drew derision from across the gaming community.
The speech ended with a promise to do better moving forward, with the sentiment that Blizzard’s actions “will matter more than any words.” He also assured audiences that free speech would be encouraged at the event.
“As you walk around this weekend, I hope it's clear how committed we are to everyone's right to express themselves in all kinds of ways, in all kinds of places,” Brack said.
It is unclear if the apology was always planned for the event or was a last-minute decision based on those protesting the rights for the people of Hong Kong. As the BlizzCon pre-show began on Twitch, many viewers expressed sentiments to “Free HK” before Brack had even taken to the stage.
Brack did not directly mention Hong Kong, China, or blitzchung by name throughout the apology. That alone will likely see the speech fall on deaf ears for many who believe that the company has aided China in its attempts at quelling talk of Hong Kong’s continued struggle for independence and democracy.