Earlier this week, Blizzard banned Pro Hearthstone player blitzchung after expressing pro-Hong Kong views in an post-game interview. After a week of silence from the gaming giant, the company issued a statement tonight explaining their reasoning regarding the actions they took.
In a statement by Blizzard president J. Allen Brack, the statement breaks down exactly why they took action, from Blizzard's perspective, and why they felt it was necessary. Additionally, while the suspensions for both blitzchung and the casters are being upheld, they are being reduced to 6 months, per Brack's statement.
Brack also believes that their actions upheld the values of Blizzard, values which have become a rallying cry for employees and concerned fans who questioned the motives of the company as this decision was made.
Over the weekend, blitzchung used his segment to make a statement about the situation in Hong Kong—in violation of rules he acknowledged and understood, and this is why we took action.
Every Voice Matters, and we strongly encourage everyone in our community to share their viewpoints in the many places available to express themselves. However, the official broadcast needs to be about the tournament and to be a place where all are welcome. In support of that, we want to keep the official channels focused on the game.
Brack asserts in his statement that the values specifically shared by blitzchung were a "factor" in the decision to ban him, as well as the shoutcasters in the interview.
Part of Thinking Globally, Leading Responsibly, and Every Voice Matters is recognizing that we have players and fans in almost every country in the world. Our goal is to help players connect in areas of commonality, like their passion for our games, and create a sense of shared community.
The specific views expressed by blitzchung were NOT a factor in the decision we made. I want to be clear: our relationships in China had no influence on our decision.
We have these rules to keep the focus on the game and on the tournament to the benefit of a global audience, and that was the only consideration in the actions we took.
If this had been the opposing viewpoint delivered in the same divisive and deliberate way, we would have felt and acted the same.
The statement goes on to express that Blizzard might have "reacted too quickly" and that their process "wasn't adequate." Notably missing in the statement, however, was mention of the Weibo post by Blizzard in China which condemned the events at the Hearthstone Asia-Pacific event, and vowed to "resolutely safeguard national dignity," per a Google translation of the post.
You can - and should - read the full statement on the official Blizzard website.