Ahead of the announcements of Diablo IV and Overwatch 2, President of Blizzard J. Allen Brack took the stage during the opening ceremony of BlizzCon 2019 and apologized for the company’s response to the Hong Kong protests. Earlier in October, Blizzard was heavily criticized for suspending pro Hearthstone player blitzchung for his vocal support of the protesters during a post-game interview. Blizzard also took away his season winnings, though that decision was reversed soon after.
Not only was Blizzard criticized by fans, but the company came under fire by United States lawmakers as well. Several politicians gathered to write a letter to Activision Blizzard CEO Bobby Kotick, in which they expressed their disdain for the company’s decisions. Protesters were found outside of BlizzCon 2019 too, many of them furious with the company’s actions.
Brack’s full statement can be found below:
We moved too quickly in our decision, and then, to make matters worse, we were too slow to talk with all of you. We didn’t live up to the high standards we set for ourselves. We failed in our purpose.
I am sorry and I accept accountability. What exactly is our purpose? BlizzCon is demonstrating it as we speak. We aspire to bring the world together in epic entertainment. I truly believe in the positive power of video games.
When we get it right, we create a common ground where the community comes together to compete, connect, and play, irrespective of the things that divide us. BlizzCon has people from 59 countries all around the world at the show today. That is amazing. That is the positive power of video games — to transcend divisions around us. We will do better going forward. But our actions are going to matter more than any of these words. As you walk around this weekend, I hope it’s clear how committed we are to people expressing themselves.
We’ve seen many of you expressing yourselves this morning.
Today you’re going to see a lot of the hard work of the Blizzard team. I am personally so proud of what we are building and I hope you love it too. Thank you for joining us.
This was followed by Blizzard showing off what its various teams have been working on.
While nothing in Brack’s statement specifically calls out the blitzchung situation, it’s clear what he’s referring to within his apology. Brack had previously noted that blitzchung’s statements were against the rules and that Blizzard’s relationship with China had nothing to do with the decision to punish him.