Blizzard could announce Diablo IV, Overwatch 2, a new WoW expansion, and Hearthstone Auto Chess live on stage at BlizzCon--and they did--but none of that would sit right if they didn't address the cloud over this year's fanfest. Their decision to harshly punish a Hearthstone pro player for declaring "Liberate Hong Kong, revolution of our age!" in a post-match interview has upset many over the past month, including players, employees, commentators, and members of the US Congress. Even Blizzard's attempt to explain themselves only dug the hole deeper. They couldn't avoid the issue. So at BlizzCon opening ceremony today, Blizzard president J. Allen Brack began with an apology.
"Blizzard had the opportunity to bring the world together in a tough Hearthstone esports moment about a month ago, and we did not," Brack said. "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," he continued. "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."
Then he went on about how they want to bring the world together with "epic entertainment."
Blizzard needed to address the issue but I don't know if this adds much. They still did what they did with the reasoning they gave.
As Jay Castello explained after Blizzard halved the ban and restored Chung "Blitzchung" Ng Wai's winnings, Blizzard's explanation makes little sense. They claimed it was just because he interrupted the tournament with an off-topic demonstration, not because he voiced support Hong Kong's protests and Blizzard feared reprisals from China. "The specific views expressed by Blitzchung were NOT a factor in the decision we made," Brack said in October. It seems unlikely that a one-year ban and forfeiture would be a fitting punishment, then. Especially given how common other off-topic chat is. Even the reduced punishment still seems harsh.
A live apology is nice and all but it doesn't change anything.
"We will do better going forward, but our actions are going to matter more than any of these words," Brack said today. Correct. Do better.
You can see the full apology in this here archived stream: