When Blizzard Entertainment president J Allen Brack opened this month's Blizzcon with a carefully worded apology over the company's suspension of Blitzchung, the Hearthstone champ who was punished for his in-game support of the Hong Kong protesters, what he didn't say (the words "Hong Kong" or "China") was just as newsworthy as what he did.
It turns out that paying attention to Brack's omissions is key to understanding his approach: though he apologized for his handling of the Blitzchung affair and promised to do better, he did not promise to rescind Blitzchung's suspension, something that was strongly implied by the apology and the promise. And, true to form, he has not lifted that suspension.
In a PC Gamer interview, Brack says that Blitzchung was suspended for making a political statement during a match, and not for offending the Chinese state, on whose largesse Blizzard depends for billions in annual revenue. Brack promised that any Blizzard tournament player who made any political statement would have faced similar punishment.
It would be great to try this out! Let's get some Blizzard competitors to try saying things like "China has a good government" or "American democracy is a noble experiment" or "I am cautiously supportive of European financial union" or "Happy Canada Day" and see what happens.
PC Gamer: I wanted to revisit the statement you made at the beginning of the opening ceremony yesterday. You said Blizzard is "committed to everyone's right to express themselves in all kinds of ways and all kinds of places," and you made a commitment to do better going forward and that your actions are going to matter more than words do. Are you going to be repealing the punishment against Blitzchung and the two Taiwanese casters involved in this incident?
J. Allen Brack, Blizzard president: We are not.