Blizzard’s high developer for Overwatch, Jeff Kaplan, mentioned the suspension handed to a Hearthstone professional — who voiced assist for Hong Kong protesters in an official stream — needs to be “reduced more or eliminated,” in an interview with The Washington Post.
In October, Hearthstone professional Ng “blitzchung” Wai Chung shouted assist for Hong Kong demonstrators on a Blizzard-sponsored livestream and was suspended from competitors, initially for a yr, however later revised to 6 months. The suspension drew worldwide protest, each on-line and ultimately week’s BlizzCon, the writer’s annual fan conference.
At BlizzCon, Blizzard president J. Allen Brack apologized for its fast choice relating to blitzchung and others, however nonetheless mentioned the corporate is not going to revert his punishment fully. Fans disagreed, vehemently.
Apparently Kaplan, Overwatch’s game director is with them. In an interview Friday with The Washington Post, Kaplan mentioned he was “relieved” to listen to blitzchung’s suspension was diminished, however nonetheless thinks the punishment needs to be “reduced more or eliminated.” Kaplan shouldn’t be concerned with the Hearthstone staff, however is the primary top-level Blizzard developer to talk brazenly about reverting blitzchung’s suspension, in line with The Washington Post.
“I’m obviously a huge supporter of free speech,” Kaplan mentioned. “It’s something that’s very important to me. It got to me personally. I think the punishment was too harsh and I was greatly relieved when they gave his money back. I think that was extremely important.”
Kaplan advised The Washington Post that there are a lot of “differing opinions” among the many Overwatch staff relating to blitzchung’s suspension.
Blitzchung’s suspension has already drawn the eye of U.S. lawmakers. In October, Sens. Ron Wyden (D-OR) and Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY), Mike Gallagher (R-WI), and Tom Malinowski (D-NJ) wrote an open letter urging Blizzard to rethink the penalty.
“Your company claims to stand by ‘one’s right to express individual thoughts and opinions,’ yet many of your own employees believe that Activision Blizzard’s decision to punish Mr. Chung runs counter to those values,” the lawmakers wrote.
Blitzchung is suspended from all Hearthstone esports occasions till subsequent yr. For now, he’s acquired the backing of esports group Tempo Storm. Blitzchung joined the staff on Oct. 31, days earlier than BlizzCon. Tempo Storm CEO Andrey Yanyuk mentioned blitzchung “exemplifies what Tempo Storm believes in.”
“I had been interested by whether or not to proceed my Hearthstone profession prior to now few weeks,” blitzchung mentioned in an announcement. “Since I haven’t reached my professional goals yet, and I don’t want to fall by the wayside, I will start competing again after I am unbanned.”