Blizzard has had a busy past few weeks, receiving public blowback (and attention from congressional U.S. lawmakers) after the decision was made to ban Hearthstone Grandmaster player Ng Wai Chung, better known as Blitzchung. The ban was later reduced into a temporary suspension and Blizzard decided to award Blitzchung his winnings. These events blew up just weeks before BlizzCon 2019, where Blizzard president J. Allen Brack apologized for Blizzard not listening to its fans, though he refrained from mentioning Blitzchung or stating exactly what it was Blizzard did wrong.
While these concessions have appeased some, Jeff Kaplan, vice president of Blizzard Entertainment and director of Overwatch and Overwatch 2, doesn’t think Blizzard has gone far enough. In a phone interview with the Washington Post, Kaplan stated that more could be done. “I was relieved when they reduced his suspension,” Kaplan said. “And I think the suspension should be reduced more or eliminated. But that’s just me.”
Kaplan also noted that Blizzard acted too fast and that the ruling came as a surprise to him and his team, who are usually informed in any discussions as a whole due to their part in the suspension or banning of players in the Overwatch League. “I’m obviously a huge supporter of free speech; it’s something that’s very important to me,” Kaplan said. “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 isn’t the first director at Blizzard to share these sentiments, as in an interview with Kotaku UK, Hearthstone game director Ben Lee said that “The initial decision was too harsh,” as well as echoing Kaplan and Brack in stating that Blizzard acted too quickly.
With multiple major announcements like Overwatch 2 and Diablo IV coming out of BlizzCon 2019, the road ahead will be interesting for Blizzard in how they choose to deal with these kinds of issues in the future, as well as whether the company will further reduce Blitzchung’s penalties.