Last weekend, well-known video game studio Blizzard Entertainment banned a participant of the Hearthstone Grandmasters tournament for publicly saying “liberate Hong Kong”. The move stirred up a massive controversy, and the developer has since received massive backlash for its decision. After what seems like an eternity, Blizzard finally broke the silence today and commented on the issue.
In their statement, Blizzard’s president discusses the ban and stated the following:
“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.”
Although the statement doesn’t seem like a very humble apology, Blizzard does admit that they “reacted too quickly” and that they “now believe he should receive his prizing.”
Since the official post went up, Internet users have been bashing the statement for how insincere it felt. However, some users fluent in both Chinese and English claim that the apology was written by a Chinese speaker, not Blizzard president J. Allen Brack.
After going through Blizzard’s statement, several users noticed that the language used in the post doesn’t match that of J. Allen Brack, the supposed author of the message. Later on, Twitter user SGBluebell, who is fluent in both English and Chinese, claimed that “the blizzard post really seems like it was written by a Chinese (non-native EN) speaker”.
The tweet chain deeply analyzes the entire message, but after comparing it with one of J. Allen Brack’s earlier posts, it’s obvious that the author is different. This theory has led many fans to suspect that, due to Blizzard’s ties with China, the message that is allegedly from Brack sounds an awful lot like the one posted on Weibo by NetEase.
It’s quite plausible to believe that Blizzard’s message was the work of someone else, but considering how poorly the “apology” is being received, it doesn’t really matter who the author was. Majority of the response to the statement is negative, with some users branding it “sleazy” and consider it far from an apology.
Whatever the case is, Blizzard has thankfully realized their mistake and have reversed the ban on Blitzchung. However, considering how quickly the situation has escalated, it isn’t going to be easy for the studio to recover from this PR disaster.