Last week, it was players, game industry leaders, and congress against Blizzard in the matter of Hearthstone player Blitzchung’s sentencing over pro-Hong Kong statements. Now, it’s Blizz v. Blizz, as Overwatch Game Director Jeff Kaplan is pushing back against his own company and asking for a more lenient sentence.
Talking to The Washington Post, Kaplan said that Blizzard should step back even more in its actions against Blitzchung. “I was relieved when they reduced his suspension,” he said. “And I think the suspension should be reduced more or eliminated. But that’s just me.”
Kaplan said that he was “actually shocked” at the “harsh penalty” that was given to Blitzchung after the professional player brought his political views onto a post-game livestream. Overwatch’s game director said that Blizzard is usually more thoughtful and slow to come to such judgments.
This echoes the sentiments that Hearthstone Game Director Ben Lee and Creative Director Ben Thompson expressed at BlizzCon when they pushed back against Blizzard’s ruling, saying that the studio “should have taken more time to consider something more reasonable,” though neither went as far as Kaplan.
“I’m obviously a huge supporter of free speech; it’s something that’s very important to me,” Kaplan said to WaPo. “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.”
You might recall that at BlizzCon, despite accepting responsibility for the way Blizzard handled Blitzchung’s case, J. Allen Brack refused to back down on the adjusted sentencing of a six-month ban. “We have been more graceful,” Brack said in response to a question about the company’s decision — a decision which, it should be noted, has not mollified the continued #BoycottBlizzard movement.
For more on the case, you can check out our complete coverage.