Blizzard Allen Brack Apology Disaster For Hong Kong Protest
Blizzard Entertainment President J. Allen Brack on Friday apologized for his company’sfor remarks he made in support of pro-democracy protestors in Hong Kong. China was watching as Blizzard Entertainment president J. Allen Brack walked onstage yesterday at BlizzCon. Knowing full well that this event might be overshadowed by the biggest Blizzard related news of the latter half of the year, Brack began the first major presentation of the event with what might’ve appeared to be an apology. He did use the word “sorry”, but he did not use the words “China” or “Hong Kong” whatsoever.
In the wake of the Blitzchung decision, Blizzard was forced to cancel a public promotional event and belatedly punish a college Hearthstone team for a similar on-stream protest. The company faced both a brief employee walkout and admonishment from a bipartisan group of US legislators.
He spoke indirectly about the situation. He referred to – without speaking directly about – how Blizzard responded to a post-match political message sent by Hearthstone player Ng “Blitzchung” Wai Chung. Blitzchung called for the liberation of Hong Kong from China.
On the event stage, president J. Allen Brack said “Blizzard had an opportunity to bring the world together..We moved too quickly in our decision, and then, to make matters worse, we were too slow to talk with all of you. When I think about what I’m most unhappy about, it’s really two things: We didn’t live up to the high standards we set for ourselves. And second, we failed in our purpose.”
But surprising almost everyone, Brack apologized for the studio’s mishandling of the situation during his keynote address. He actually said the word “sorry,” contrary to his statement a few weeks ago.
“Before the opening ceremony, I want to say a few words. Blizzard had the opportunity to bring the world together in a tough Hearthstone e-sports moment about a month ago, and we did not. We moved too quickly in our decision making, and then, to make matters worse, we were too slow to talk with all of you. When I think about what I’m most unhappy about, there’s really two things. The first one is we didn’t live up to the high standards that we really set for ourselves, and the second is we failed in our purpose. And for that, I am sorry, and I accept accountability.
“So what exactly is our purpose? BlizzCon is demonstrating it even as we speak. We aspire to bring the world together in epic entertainment, and I truly believe in the positive power of video games. When we get it right, we create a common ground where the community comes together to compete, connect, and play, irrespective of the things that divide us. As an example, BlizzCon has people from 59 countries all around the world here at the show today – that is amazing. And that is the positive power of video games to transcend divisions that surround us in so many of our places today.
“We will do better going forward, but our actions are going to matter more than any of these words. 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, all kinds of places. I’ve actually seen and heard many of you expressing yourself this morning. [Eds: Seemingly a joking reference to the protests from today, as well as attendees in pro-Hong Kong gear and Pooh costumes.] You use your vacation and your family time to be here in Anaheim with us, and we are so grateful that you’re here this weekend. Our best moments are here in our shared passion to Blizzard games. So once again, BlizzCon has brought us together and today you’re going to see a lot of the hard work of the Blizzard team.”
Worth noting is that not everyone is feeling all that appeased by the apology, which could be interpreted to be apologizing for the wrong thing, especially since he mentioned neither Hong Kong nor China.
Why the fuck are people cheering for this?
This is not an apology. Once again, just like in the original statement Blizzard made, they're not apologizing for punishing Blitzchung, they're apologizing for "moving too quickly," and taking too long to make an official statement. https://t.co/lleT6cCUpM
— Dollar Bill Montgomery (@HBJohnXuandou) November 1, 2019
Twitter rushed to slam the Blizzard president for what some users called an “extremely bare bones” or an “empty words” apology.
Meanwhile there’s been no change to the fate of Blitzchung, or the other two streamers that just happened to be interviewing Blitzchung when he spoke up in favor of Hong Kong. They’re all still banned.
Blizzard did not apologize for Hong Kong. This was a creative way to express regret for the situation they’re in without making any immediate changes to the way they do business. Brack said of Blizzard, “our actions are going to matter more than any of these words.” It’s unlikely that this means there’ll be no more bans for political protests during official tournament streams.
It was a missed opportunity, and one that hasn’t gone unnoticed by fans, who were very quick to criticize the fact that the apology didn’t really state much. It set the tone for BlizzCon 2019 as a stage where Blizzard will continue to ignore the greater parts of the issues fans have had with its treatment of politics. Brack also did not change any part of blitzchung’s suspension, either, continuing to sentence the pro to his six month suspension.