Blizzard Entertainment has been under fire for nearly a month following its decision to ban a pro "Hearthstone" player for vocalizing his support for Hong Kong protestors in a post-match interview. The company's President has now issued an apology to fans over the way it handled the situation.
On Friday, November 1, J. Allen Brack opened the company's annual gaming convention, Blizzcon, by apologizing for its handling of the controversy, and promising fans that it'll do better next time.
"Blizzard had the opportunity to bring the world together in a tough 'Hearthstone' e-sports moment about a month ago. We did not. We moved too quickly in our decision-making and then to make matters worse, we were too slow to talk to all of you," Brack said.
"When I think about how most unhappy I am, I think about two things," he added. "We didn't live up to the higher standards we set for ourselves. Second, we failed in our purpose. For that, I am sorry, and I accept accountability."
Before Blizzcon kicked off, a crowd of more than 30 protestors lined up outside the convention centre holding signs and chanting slogans like "People over profit" and "Free Hong Kong" to show their solidarity with pro "Hearthstone" player Ng "Blitzchung" Wai Chung.
Chung was suspended by Blizzard for supporting Hong Kong protestors, a move that many believe was to safeguard its business interests in China. Blizzard's decision to ban Wai Chung turned into a PR nightmare, receiving flak from fans, the gaming community, as well as its own staff members.
The company faced a widespread boycott, condemnations from US lawmakers and even employee walkouts following its decision, prompting Blizzard to reduce Blitzchung's ban to six months. The company even lost Mitsubishi as a sponsor in the wake of the scandal.
Activision-Blizzard is partly owned by Chinese media giant, Tencent, which also has ties with the Chinese Communist Party who oppose the Hong Kong protests. However, Blizzard president J. Allen Brack issued a statement asserting that the company's business interests in China had no influence over its decision to ban the player.