Overwatch’s Jeff Kaplan thinks Blizzard’s Blitzchung punishment was too harsh

    
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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.

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Jack Kerras

Blizzard’s corporate leadership has been dicking around with a previously-functional, really high-quality business for years now, and it’s only getting more and more obvious.

Yeah, it’s important to make money. Yeah, being banned from China would mean a serious financial hit.

Yeah, that would mean standing up for the (suffering) fucking values of the country you come from in the face of pressure from an authoritarian government’s pressure over not only their own people, but over us, in our own fucking house. We literally all need to be more willing to do that if we want human rights to keep being a thing worldwide.

I get that everyone wants to be safe in their jobs, but fuck, man. Why are jobs more important than saying ‘You know what, that was technically against the rules but we’re gonna slap him on the wrist instead of doing a real punishment, because fuck what the Chinese government is doing’.

We should all be doing that.

Doing less than our duty in resisting the encroachment of this nonsense into our everyday lives is some straight-up, real-life, never-again-means-now first-they-came-for-the-Socialists shit, and if we don’t straighten up as a whole unit we’re gonna have way worse than trade wars to tangle with.

These milquetoast pieces-of-shit are too fucking responsible for too great a cultural force to leave this up to ‘eh, I think we were a little harsh on someone from a place that badly needs a platform right now, but I’m not gonna put my foot down about it’.

Save your bans for folks ripping off their jerseys to show ‘Lock Her Up/Lock Him Up’ T-shirts underneath. That’s political nonsense from in our backyard, it’s against the rules, and statistically speaking you’re incredibly unlikely to get disappeared for it.

Blitz fucking might, and doing what he did represents a real risk and a real need to be heard. He was. That’s good. Blizz makes the rules, and they should use their ownership of same to let this fucking slide (and, frankly, pat him on the back in private if they haven’t already).

What he did was against the rules, but doing that shit is getting increasingly important, and he took a bigger risk in doing it than most Americans have the opportunity to take in our lives.

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Armsbend

well said

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Bruno Brito

Well said, but let’s cut the idealism: Blizzard doesn’t give a shit. Activision doesn’t give a shit. Kotick is a degenerate asshole who fired 800 people to sustain the illusion of profit. He doesn’t give a shit what can happen to Blitz, and i have several reservations if Brack gives a damn either.

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Jack Kerras

Why in the world would I cut the idealism?

Why the everloving fuck should I be so fucking jaded that I just think it’s okay that Bobby axed eight hundred people to make numbers fuck better?

Fuck that. Fuck all of that.

I don’t know if you think that shit is okay, but it is definitely not, and selling tomorrow in order to make numbers today is literally going to kill fucking everyone on Earth if we keep shrugging about it.

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Bruno Brito

Maybe i didn’t make myself clear, and for that i apologize. I’m saying to realize that they don’t give a shit and won’t hear anything about idealism.

It’s beautiful to talk about ideas, and believe me, i’m one of the most forward persons in this website to actively fight for what i believe.

But you’re knocking on the wrong door. Kotick will keep on not giving a shit. The method needs to change. It doesn’t help to just protest and forget one week later. It doesn’t help that Kotick will probably just retire 2 years from now and fly his silky golden parachute.

You wanna see change? Put those 800 on the doormat of the Activision headquarters, demanding answers and justice or Kotick gets dragged out of the building.

As long as nothing is a threat to the top, the top will keep on topping us.

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donvweel

Kaplan is VP, his opinion matters. How high up do you have to be? Unless it is Activision calling the shots.
https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jeff_Kaplan

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McGuffn

Henceforth, all punishments will consist of a dinner with Bobby Kotick. No one will ever act out of turn again.

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Sorenthaz

Makes me think of this.

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Life_Isnt_Just_Dank_Memes

They said we’re sorry and then took no action to back those words up meaning it wasn’t an actual apology.

If a three year old takes a toy from another three year old and is told to say sorry and doesn’t give the toy back, that’s not an actual apology.

But y’all gotta get that sweet, sweet, D4 so you’ll find a way to justify giving them money, right?

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Dakota Royal

woot something something something D4! cant wait :)

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Arktouros

Except the scenario is more like the three year old took an extremely expensive item in the house and played with it like a toy and when their parents punished the three year old for misbehaving the internet is now upset with the parent for punishing the three year old. When the parents admitted their punishment went too far and they’ve undone some of them people say that they did nothing (despite doing something) because they refuse to unpunish them entirely.

But yes let me give up me potentially enjoying a good game/entertainment product in Diablo 4 because the internet demands nothing short of absolute yielding obedience from companies or they’re insincere and evil and anyone who has anything to do with them is equally so.

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Bree Royce

TIL supporting home rule during your victory lap is like playing with a toy.

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Utakata

…dat analogy though, lol. o.O

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Bruno Brito

Sounds like a person who doesn’t even have kids.

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Bree Royce

Also fair. Who punishes a three-year-old at all, let alone fines them $10K and bans them from toys for a year, and then also bans the other kids who were standing nearby, and then bans other kids who tried to stick up for their siblings. This from people who would be first in line to blame the parents for leaving the expensive item out in the first place.

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Bruno Brito

We should call it the “Toybox incident” to give it urban legend status.

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Utakata

…or shouldn’t have kids. /bleh

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Arktouros

Yes because it was in no way in response to Life’s three year old and toy scenario. Completely stand alone analogy with no reference to anything.

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Bruno Brito

You’re going to keep insisting on that, won’t you?

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Armsbend

No one will mind if you stop talking now.

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Bruno Brito

Bend. I want your sincere opinion on this, because i wasn’t expecting this.

What do you think this is? The artistic direction of Blizzard trying to tie themselves off the bad decisions?

I have a huge feeling that this is the beginning of a turmoil inside the art departments that will now have a “it wasn’t our fault that all these years these suits didn’t give you, our valuable customers and fans, what we wanted to give you” excuse.

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Armsbend

It’s just PR to show that they are “one of us”. When they aren’t any longer.

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Bruno Brito

I thought that, but it’s a bad PR move. It distance themselves from the upper echelons of the company, sure, but it also shows that they are, as a corporation, disorganized and without someone to steer the ship.

Don’t you think that Kaplan being public with this could give them another blow on their reports, considering that the market will be cautious to invest on a headless company?

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Ashfyn Ninegold

This is a complete muddled mess. BlizzChina obviously took unilateral action in some regards that Blizzard Irvine did not know or approve of but had to back once they were made.

Activision’s corporate interests are mixed in and in the media stories inseparable from the artistic.

But Blizzard isn’t a monolith. And the creative people are not making the corporate decisions.

If anything, this is a continuation of the dialogue begun at BlizzCon. I don’t see this as them trying to excuse the iffy creative decisions they’ve made over the years, but rather saying, we’re responsible for what we do creatively, but we want nothing to do with the decisions the suits make. That’s not us. That’s not what we think.

I don’t think holding up J. Allen, who is a corporate officer, as the creative face of Blizzard works, either. He’s got a job to do in a tug of war between the avarice of Activision and the health of the creative empire. We’ve seen all too many great studios go down the corporate path to extinction or usurpation, Bioware and Bethesda among them.

I’m willing to give Kaplan and other creative forces the benefit of the doubt here, because if Blizzard goes, that’s the ball game.

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Bruno Brito

I guess. I’m still holding doubt for all the sides, because what Kaplan just did may have some consequences on their future.

Bree Royce
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Bree Royce

I’m torn on this too. Brack clearly doesn’t have his house in order and doesn’t have the pull he should by now. Kaplan, on the other hand, has been a longtime fan-fave across multiple Blizz fanbases, and he’s been really clear on topics like this in the past, so it’s not a position that comes out of left field for him.

If this wasn’t a cynical, planned stunt – sending Kaplan for a WAPO interview on purpose to distance The Devs from The Suits – then Kaplan just spent a big chunk of his personal Blizzard capital to say it, capital the Hearthstone newcomers still lack. Either way, I think the message was heard loud and clear.

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Utakata

It’s not about whether you can trust what Kaplan or whoever have to say on the matter. It’s about whether they are doing the right thing. IMO.

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Utakata

No, I don’t think he’s talked enough about this. So he really should go on about indefinitely until Blizz retracts on this…

…meantime, you don’t have to listen to him if you don’t want. I make it a habit of tuning out folks I ultimately disagree with. You should try that sometime. :)

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peor togs

((Deleted by mod. Please review the commenting code.))

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Armsbend

Speak for yourself: I am still interested in the story.

Mordyjuice
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Mordyjuice

“No one will mind if you stop talking now.” which is it then, are you schrodinger’s Armsbend?

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Bruno Brito

I’m highly sure Bend was specifically targetting Kaplan, because ever since Blizzcon, he’s been taking a patronizing posture.

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Armsbend

dingdingdingding we haz a winar!

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Armsbend

And to be speaking directly to the writer? Even I’m not that brazenly rude!

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Bruno Brito

Just pessimistic, but i love you anyway <3

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Utakata

That’s not showing lack of interest though. And that should be obvious to anyone outside of trolling. Just saying.

Sixuality
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Sixuality

The opinion of a senior Blizzard dev like Kaplan is, I think, newsworthy. This story has a long way to run yet and who knows what the long-term effects may be.