Blizzard is in full damage-control mode this morning as the widespread fallout from the Blitzchung ban continues unabated.
In the latest turn of events, the company behind the hugely popular digital collectible card game, Hearthstone, has decided to return Blitzchung’s prize money and unban the Taiwanese casters who hosted the match.
In what can only be described as a classic Streisand effect, Blizzard’s desire to quietly and quickly ban the Hong Kong Hearthstone grandmaster has all but backfired.
Many in the community including prominent YouTube gaming influencer YongYea are not buying the Blizzard band-aid and are calling the backpedaling nothing short of a complete cop-out:
“…the issue isn’t that Blizzard took action, it’s how severe and extreme those actions were. How excessive the punishment was. The severity of the punishment was more akin to how China would’ve reacted to somebody speaking for Hong Kong.”
CCN.com was not able to determine Blitzchung’s prize winnings for the Asia-Pacific tournament, however, Blizzard has pulled a full 180 on the initial ruling and now confirmed that he will, in fact, receive all of his prize money.
“In the tournament itself blitzchung *played* fair. We now believe he should receive his prizing. We understand that for some this is not about the prize, and perhaps for others it is disrespectful to even discuss it. That is not our intention.”
Moderators have also reduced his suspension from one year to six months and removed the lifetime ban from Taiwanese shoutcasters ‘Mr. Yee’ and ‘Virtual’.
They too will receive a six-month suspension which in retrospect must be a huge relief.
Despite Blizzard’s best efforts, the international incident is having further unintended consequences. Kotaku reports that multiple groups are planning major protests for Blizzcon.
The mammoth convention hosted over 40,000 people last year and will take place on Nov 1st. Blizzard has less than three weeks to make this PR nightmare disappear.
The gaming behemoth is also having to contend with disgruntled staff who don’t share the view of company executives who’ve in rallied against the “think globally, every voice matters” ethos of the company:
Apart from the usual PR babble, Blizzard made sure to emphasize that their decision what is in no way, shape or form influenced by their business relationship with China:
“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.”
The communist-capitalist country is receiving almost daily negative press surrounding its perceived influence in all aspects of worldwide society ranging from FIFA to the NBA and, of course, the much-hyped US-China trade war.
Notable esports consultant Rod Breslau has had enough of the emerging trend. He posted this controversial image on Twitter:
The message is clear. In this day and age, profits trump just about everything else including one professional player’s five-second political message.