Blizzard Vice President and Overwatch Director Jeff Kaplan Does Not Agree With The Company’s Decision To Ban Blitzchung Over Hong Kong Controversy

Blizzard Vice President and Overwatch Director Jeff Kaplan Does Not Agree With The Company’s Decision To Ban Blitzchung Over Hong Kong Controversy
Credit: Variety via YouTube

An interesting position has been taken by Blizzard’s Vice President and Overwatch Director Jeff Kaplan about the Hong Kong controversy that has haunted the company since early October.

Quick recap of the situation:

Game developer Blizzard banned a pro player from attending its esports events because he made a pro-Hong Kong statement during a post-game interview at a Blizzard sponsored Hearthstone tournament.

The gamer’s name is Chung “blitzchung” Ng Wai, and since Blizzard made the decision, the game developer has dealt with severe backlash from fans, critics, and even US legislators.

Multiple Blizzard games have been boycotted by fans and their annual gaming convention Blizzcon was hit by protests.

Blizzard’s bottom line has suffered in other ways, including losing sponsorship deals from companies like Mitsubishi.

To help put a pin in the situation, Blizzard President J. Allen Brack kicked off the open ceremony of Blizzcon by apologizing to Blizzard fans around the world about the situation. However, during the apology, he never directly mentioned blitzchung or his suspension.

Here is a video of the apology:

Brack clarified his position on the blitzchung banning with PC Gamer’s Steven Messner. He essentially said that he would not further reduce the suspension (which was already reduced from one year to six months) as he wants this to be an example for other gamers, making sure everyone keeps politics out of Blizzard sponsored gaming events.

What is the Vice President’s stance on the blitzchung suspension?

Kaplan has a different view then Brack on this situation. Kaplan is hoping that blitzchung’s suspension will be terminated altogether.

The Washington Post interviewed Kaplan to get his take on the cloud hanging over Blizzard.
Apparently, Kaplan and most of the Blizzard staff didn’t know about the situation until it hit the news. He is not impressed with how quickly a decision was made on the punishment.

“We had to deal with a few of them in season one in particular, and that process usually takes about four or five days to make the decision,” Kaplan said. There is typically a group of Blizzard employees that discuss the situation and thoughtfully come up with a suitable punishment. The Vice President was shocked to see how harsh the sentence was that came down on blitzchung.

Kaplan took it further and said that he is relieved the punishment was reduced from one year to six months, as well as being happy that blitzchung had his prize earnings returned. Still, the Vice President would be much happier about the situation if blitzchung’s ban was gotten rid of altogether.

It’s a pretty powerful statement that a top Blizzard executive is speaking out against Brack’s decision to uphold the punishment. Another senior executive has come out as well, as Hearthstone Game Director Ben Lee told video game website Kotaku that the punishment was too severe.

At this point, it is quite clear that Brack will not change the punishment, but with executives speaking in contradiction to the President’s decision, the board room would be an exciting place to be a fly on the wall.