Despite BlizzCon apology, Blizzard stands behind ‘Hong Kong liberation’ suspensions

    
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In case you missed it, BlizzCon’s World of Warcraft Q&A session this afternoon was peppered with a few vocal protesters who both wore pro-Hong Kong shirts and shouted for the country’s liberation. This was, of course, in response to the month-long controversy regarding the Hearthstone interview livestream and subsequent decisions that Blizzard is still trying to live down.

Despite coming out on the stage for the BlizzCon keynote yesterday and apologizing for how the company handled the issue, J. Allen Brack told PC Gamer that the company will not be rescinding the punishments levied against professional esports player Blitzchung and the two interviewers (or presumably the American University team actioned in the subsequent protests).

“The content was not the problem. It was the fact that it was not about the game in question,” Brack said to PC Gamer in a follow-up interview. While he goes on at length about the company’s and community’s purported culture of “free expression,” he also suggests such “free expression” should be limited to spaces away from broadcasts and interviews, seemingly a contradiction of yesterday’s statement that Blizzard is committed to “to everyone’s right to express themselves in all kinds of ways, all kinds of places.”

“So Blizzard’s perspective is that, of course you want players to express themselves, except for when it’s taking place through official channels?” PC Gamer asked.

“That’s right,” Brack answered.

Brack also attempted to clarify the relationship between Blizzard and its Chinese partners (namely NetEase), especially considering that Blizzard’s Chinese publisher wrote a startlingly pro-China post in response to the livestream on Weibo, suggesting it had taken action against Blitzchung to protect China’s national dignity. “We did not authorize [the post],” Brack says. “We did not approve it. We would not have approved it had they asked.”

He went on to say that the various groups — including Blizzard’s Taiwan team, NetEase, Hearthstone’s leadership, and the esports team — jointly made the quick decision that triggered the initial controversy. “[T]hat’s certainly the failure of this story is those groups coming together and deciding in a very short amount of time what the right action to take forward was,” he said. It’s not clear who made the decision to then hold off for many days before making an internal or external statement after the incident and resulting boycott went international, leading the company’s own employees to complain.

Worth noting is that this comment appointing blame to Netease and these teams was a response to PC Gamer’s question about China’s influence on Blizzard’s overall decision, which Brack did not directly address.

One of the banned Taiwanese interviewers was not happy with the studio’s decision and BlizzCon apology, during which Brack referred to freedom of expression within the community. As the caster put it to PC Gamer, “Expressing myself is exactly what I did during casting. So why is Blizzard still banning me for six months?” Brack says the casters were hired to keep the stream focused on the game and “were not successful in their job.” PC Gamer also asked Brack whether Blizzard’s contracted esports casters are “given specific training on how to handle on-air breaches of protocol.” Brack didn’t address that either.

You can follow the thread of the Blizzard Hong Kong fiasco in Massively OP’s summary of the situation, and get caught up on everything else that happened at BlizzCon too.

Source: PC Gamer

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styopa

I know it may be hard to wrap your head around, but politics too can be non-binary. Remember how we used to mock George Bush II when he oversimplified the world into “with us or against us”?

In case that’s too complicated: I despise Trump. But to censor anyone supporting him because we don’t like what they say? How very 2019.

Per Jefferson: “If there be any among us who would wish to dissolve this Union or to change its republican form, let them stand undisturbed as monuments of the safety with which error of opinion may be tolerated where reason is left free to combat it.”

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Anthony Clark

boo

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Grave Knight

“Apology.” They didn’t say what they were sorry for, they didn’t say how they would do better. It was just a sad man on stage and we’re suppose to feel bad and forgive them.

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G0dl355

The line about the bans being about using their platform for political purposes is b.s

Had they said “F Trump” or “Black Lives Matter!” there would be no action taken.

The bans stand because they criticized something important to their bottom line.

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Arktouros

Yeap, exactly as I said yesterday in their apology thread. Blizzard doesn’t see actioning a player for using their gaming event platform to promote a cause or idea as being in the wrong.

And, personally speaking, I 100% I agree with that. If someone came here and started posting all sorts of political posts I would expect those posts to be removed. Not because it’s specifically against the rules, but because it’s common sense. This is a gaming website dedicated to topics that relate to gaming (even political gaming topics). Just the same, an esports event is about that event. You can be a revolutionary and espouse a cause, but by definition being revolutionary means you are bucking the rules and expecting no consequences is naive.

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styopa

Thanks for posting.
The tone of the MOP post is slightly aggrieved, but for me it’s a simple question: do they get to have rules?
Imo, we have to allow any company hosting an event that.
They have to make them clear in advance, and apply them objectively, of course. Then participants can decide if the rules are too onerous to participate under, of course. It may be if they set the rules to stringently, players will decide they’re not worth the trip.

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Arktouros

While I agree clarity of rules is certainly always a good thing, I also think that you reach a line where just because something isn’t expressly forbidden doesn’t mean you should still do said thing.

We’ve all seen those ridiculous rules that you wouldn’t think you should have to expressly clarify but you know one time in the past someone did some just absolutely outrageous thing and now it has to be specified.

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Bruno Brito

Except that considering the weight of the punishment, and Blizzard’s own lack of consistency at enforcing said rules, we get to point out ( specially being their clients ) that they’re a bunch of hypocritical imbeciles.

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Arktouros

The weight of the punishment even Blizzard agreed was wrong and they accept responsibility for reacting too quickly, too harshly and they apologized for it. They returned his winnings and toned back the punishment accordingly in order to correct that mistake.

Their lack of consistency in enforcing their rules is another area they also corrected as the team they initially didn’t ban (likely out of caution to how badly people received Blitzchung’s initial ban) only to then be called out for not enforcing their policy evenly (and thus making them hypocrites).

The “hat” images you keep posting everywhere that is a case of parody. The “Make X Y Again” format has been used/reused numerous times regardless of it’s political origins. There’s lots of examples of use of parody, even in Blizzard games. We’re talking about a company who’s response to “Diablo 3 is too bright and cartoony” was Whimsydale.

So they seem to have addressed your points. For some people that won’t be enough which I guess ok then. “Sounds good.”

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Bruno Brito

The “hat” images you keep posting everywhere that is a case of parody. The “Make X Y Again” format has been used/reused numerous times regardless of it’s political origins. There’s lots of examples of use of parody, even in Blizzard games. We’re talking about a company who’s response to “Diablo 3 is too bright and cartoony” was Whimsydale.

It doesn’t matter. It’s tied to a political discourse. If we’re going to discuss consistency in their punishment, they should punish EVERYTHING tied to political discourse. If they don’t, they didn’t solve their lack of consistency.

Parody is a political statement. Either they go full balls deep with “No politics” or they allow entire political statements. No in-betweens.

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Arktouros

It doesn’t matter.

To you it doesn’t matter. For you it’s the backbone of your argument that they’re hypocrites or inconsistent.

They have been consistent in that if you use their platforms, such an esports tournament interview, those platforms are for the events in which they are part of and not for political statements. If your argument is that because they won’t allow political statements during eSports events they must, in turn, disassociate themselves from or punish anyone who expresses a political thought then that’s just absurd.

Parody can be a political statement however typically it’s done as an attempt at satirical humor. As always humor is subjective, and you may be overly sensitive to “MAGA” parodies but others it’s pretty funny. The case you are bringing up with the Azeroth hats isn’t done as a political statement and pretty sure you know that already.

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Bruno Brito

To you it doesn’t matter. For you it’s the backbone of your argument that they’re hypocrites or inconsistent.

I’m quite tired of you trying to do this everytime. You always flipflop arguments to favour yours.

The case you are bringing up with the Azeroth hats isn’t done as a political statement and pretty sure you know that already.

It. Doesn’t. Matter. It’s tied to political discourse.

Actually, nevermind. I’ve never seen you make a honest argument, so i’ll stop pretending that you have anything worthwhile to share.

The reality is that Blizzard fucked up because it was tied to it’s bottom line. You can either accept reality or live on your freemarket utopia. I don’t give a shit which you choose.

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jealouspirate

It’s perfectly reasonable to expect people to refrain from discussing political topics during an official Blizzard broadcast. Do we really want things like Hearthstone or Overwatch tournaments used as platforms for players political agendas?

Just imagine it was 2016 during the election and a pro player used Blizzard’s platform to say “Make America Great Again, TRUMP, Lock Her Up, etc”. Nobody wants that.

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Utakata

You know, it should be pointed out that it was never really about that. If Mr. blitzchung got off with a warning, then fair game. And would I agree with you.

…but that’s not how Blizz handled it at all. And this is point of contention. As the exercise seems more about silencing dissent to appease a 3rd party, as opposed to dealing with the indiscretion appropriately.

So let me ask you then, would you be okay if you got a 6 month unpaid suspension or pink slip because you made an off comment about His Orange Potus, because his hotel interests where to seal a deal with the company you worked for the next day, in the example? I think you would be looking for a wrongful dismissal suit.

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Arktouros

If I took my time to speak at a project/organization meeting at work and used that as an opportunity to make a political statement (regardless of direction) I would absolutely expect to hear from HR shortly after. I also have known people who were quite…zealous…in their political favorites (nothing current) and found themselves also talking to HR as well.

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Utakata

Yep, you get a warning for sure. And so you should. Unless you go all out James Damore…then it would get a bit more complicated for you, lol. o.O

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Arktouros

Actually my punishment would likely correspond with the scenario. A project meeting with 4-5 people a warning seems likely. If I took my opportunity to speak at a department wide meeting I’d likely end up escorted out of the building for sure.

I won’t comment on the James Damore thing because this is a gaming website. See how that works? It’s not complicated when you get down to it (:

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Utakata

I’m really not sure what you are going on about. Maybe your experience is different from everyone else…I’ll least give you that. So in not being complicated at all, thanks for your time then. :)

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Bruno Brito

Blizzard’s most famous streamer mocks democrats daily and made a line of hats with the saying “Make Azeroth Great Again”.

This has nothing to do with politics. It has everything to do with Blizzard being a bunch of scared kitties and rushing towards a punishment so China doesn’t tell them to stick it.

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jealouspirate

What Blizzard is concerned about is politics on their own internal platform. If a streamer wants to play WoW on Twitch and mock democrats or say “Free Hong Kong!” Blizzard is fine with that. They have never punished anyone for that.

I don’t know who you’re referring to (Asmongold maybe?), but I guarantee he isn’t saying that stuff at an official Blizzard event on a Blizzard broadcast.

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Bruno Brito

I don’t know who you’re referring to (Asmongold maybe?), but I guarantee he isn’t saying that stuff at an official Blizzard event on a Blizzard broadcast.

It doesn’t matter. It’s tying their company to a political discourse. It’s tying their name to a political brand. WoW is their internal platform and they allow political discourse there, why?

Again, it’s a matter of consistency. They never enforced that rule before, and now they did, after a disgusting showing of “nation’s pride” with that letter.

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Sarah Cushaway

Because it wasn’t an apology at all and they’re still not gonna care about human rights.

And thusly, I will continue to boycott them indefinitely.

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styopa

You are absolutely in the right to hold to your moral compass.

I’m genuinely curious, though: would you have held so strongly that political speech should be allowed of the guy had been punished for waving a TRUMP 2020 banner and a MAGA hat?

I’m not trying to “catch” you, I’m genuinely curious if your position is actually objectively moral, or merely political?

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Sarah Cushaway

Both. Because what Trump is doing is so intertwined with capitalism and how it oppresses people– especially those who are already struggling for basic human rights– anyone who supports such a cause is probably already far too privileged and needs a good smackdown.

That said, Blizzard wouldn’t have banned the guy if they hadn’t already been trying to play kissy-kiss-up for their HK debacle.

#antifa

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* bag

Sure it was an apology. Now they have made their stance clear, it’s up to you to decide if you are fine with it.

A big publisher, a big tech company, many others dealing in such countries, how much can you expect? I hope your expectations are aligned, and act accordingly.

Prepare to be in it for the long game…

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tiltowait

I’m for boycotting all of these companies. Let Blizzard, Apple, and all the others go do their business in China, we don’t need them in the free world.

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Castagere Shaikura

LOL, what do you guys expect from a AAA game company? Complain all you like on the forums but you all still will throw money at them for Shadowlands. and Diablo 4.

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Bruno Brito

I expect them to be better at PR.

And not really, why would i buy this?

MilitiaMasterV
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MilitiaMasterV

I haven’t touched WoW since a month after Cataclysm when my account was practically [destroyed] by a ‘hacker’ who left full bags of cataclysm ore in my ‘main’ character and left him flying over Un’Goro crater (Logged in to fall to ‘my’ death. I never bought old world flight, because I didn’t play Cataclysm at all, they used a ‘free trial’ of it on my account. I only paid for a month to recover all my stuff, then never returned.).

I quit Starcraft after having over 1k games played, awhile after they launched Heart of the Swarm…(Eventually saw one of those ‘We’re giving you HoS free!’ and applied it but never played it.)…and I was considering the Protoss campaign (I rock with Protoss…) but the company’s attitude irks me so badly I just couldn’t stomach paying them another bit of money.

I haven’t played the Diablo franchise since before D3. Didn’t even buy D3 because it looked so awful, and they were going backwards in development.

Haven’t even played the Warcraft games (Still own them, they just sit on a shelf) since way back.

So no, I’m pretty sure I can do without paying them any money just fine…their ‘glory days’ are over in my eyes.

latorn
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Kickstarter Donor
latorn

lol, you think we’ll throw money at them for Shadowlands and Diablo 4?

You’re on MassivelyOP, not some Blizzard echo-chamber. There are other MMOs out there that are subjectively better, from objectively better companies.

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Sarah Cushaway

No, actually, I won’t. Even if they weren’t helping to oppress human rights (and, btw, I boycott companies like Apple as well ;) for the very same reasons), their games are pretty much shit now anyway and not worth my hard-earned money.

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Bruno Brito

I’m going to play SWG. Way better.

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Archibald “TheWolfOfMibu” Cavendish

Yea, no.

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Dug From The Earth

It wasnt an apology

It was a “Best way to lower the negative impact of our actions for the duration of blizzcon to avoid public facing events that would further hurt the companies rep for the next year” (do you not have phones?)

BS public relations action. Period.

Morhaime leaving Brack in charge was like Thrall leaving Garrosh in charge.

As Ironic as that is.