Jeff Kaplan says Blizzard should eliminate blitzchung's ban entirely

Blizzard president J. Allen Brack briefly touched on the ban of Ng "blitzchung" Wai Chung at BlizzCon earlier this month, but the company has yet to unban the Hearthstone Grandmasters player for voicing his support of Hong Kong protesters in a post-match interview. 

While the gaming community has protested the company and called for a boycott of its titles, some of Blizzard's leaders are voicing their disagreement with the punishments as well. Jeff Kaplan, best known as Overwatch's lead designer, told the Washington Post that blitzchung's sentence should be "reduced more or eliminated." 

After a wave of backlash from gamers and even from politcians, Blizzard reduced blitzchung's yearlong ban to just six months, but that wasn't enough to calm the storm.

The public concensus was that Blizzard was silencing free speech to appease China, one of the biggest gaming markets. 

“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,” Brack said. He then claimed they would have had the same reaction if blitzchung had spoken out in favor of China on stream, since the platform should be focused on the game, not politics. 

Despite the president's claims, Blizzard's own employees have continued to speak out against the company. Kaplan stated that there are "differing opinions" within the publishing giant. The Overwatch designer said the decision had come as a shock to him personally, and noted it happened "way too quickly." 

According to Kaplan, most Blizzard employees weren't even aware of the incident until they saw news of Blizzard's decision online. 

“We had to deal with a few [bans] in Season 1 [of the Overwatch League] in particular, and that process usually takes about four or five days to make the decision," Kaplan had explained to Washington Post. "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.”

Kaplan not pleased with Blizzard's decision

The quick decision was soon reversed, something that Kaplan felt "relieved" about. Although he would personally prefer if blitzchung wasn't suspended at all. 

Kaplan says his reason for standing up for blitzchung is his unwavering support of free spech. 

“It’s something that’s very important to me. 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," he continued. 

Another Blizzard employee, Hearthstone game director Ben Lee, had spoken out against his company's decision, too. He called blitzchung's year-long ban "too harsh." 

Still, employee opinions, protests, and letters from politicians have not convinced Blizzard to eliminate blitzchung's sentence. 

The now-infamous Hearthstone player recently joined Tempo Storm, where he will focus on streaming and practicing until he's unbanned from tournaments. 

blitzchung signs with Tempo Storm as Blizzard drama continues

Olivia Richman

01/Nov/19 00:15

Being banned from Blizzard's Hearthstone Grandmaster tournament wasn't enough to deter Tempo Storm from signing Wai Chung “blitzchung” Ng. In fact, it was blitzchung's choice to boldly support Hong...

Mitsubishi no longer Blizzard sponsor after blitzchung controversy

Olivia Richman

30/Oct/19 11:30

It's been no secret that Blizzard's actions in response to Ng "blitzchung" Wai Chung's call for the liberation of Hong Kong in a Hearthstone Grandmasters interview has garnered a lot of criticism...

AOC, other politicians condemn Blizzard's actions over HK protest

Brent Harrington

18/Oct/19 23:00

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez was one of five politicians who signed a letter to Activision Blizzard deriding the company’s decision to ban Ng Wai “blitzchung” Chung from competitive Hearthstone play....

Gamers for Freedom organizing BlizzCon protest to support Hong Kong

Olivia Richman

14/Oct/19 03:57

When you enter the GamersForFreedom website, the first thing you see are masked protesters holding up American flags in solidarity with the Hong Kong protesters. Scroll down a little, and you'll...

Kripparrian issues statement on Blizzard's Hong Kong censorship

Brent Harrington

11/Oct/19 20:30

Octavian “Kripparrian” Morosan, a long-time Twitch streamer with 1.3 million followers, has released a statement regarding Blizzard’s punishment of a professional Hearthstone player for protest...