Hearthstone’s game director has said Blizzard acted too quickly to quickly during the Grandmasters incident involving Chung ‘Blitzchung’ Ng Wai last month, and that the original decision to ban him for a year and revoke all his prize money was “too harsh.”
Ben Lee spoke to Kotaku after BlizzCon about the incident, alongside his colleague Ben Thompson, the game’s creative director, about their regret of how the situation was handled, and how, ultimately, it has affected the popular collectable card game’s esports scene.
“The initial decision was too harsh,” Ben Lee, Hearthstone game director tells Kotaku. “Definitely should have taken more time to consider something reasonable, but we can’t take that back. I think we all wish things had been done differently.”
And although there is an overwhelming sense of regret internally in Blizzard, the company’s decision to prevent esports athletes from voicing political views during live broadcasts still stands, and its something both developers agree with, regardless of the anti-Hong Kong sentiment the incident has created.
“It’s bigger than games, it’s bigger than our game,” Thompson tells Kotaku. “It’s something that’s dealt with on a global, sociological level.
“Being able to speak your mind and say how you feel from a personal level is always – and should always be – a welcome thing. Doing so from a platform very much not your own, and done from a voice not your own is not free speech.”
However, the pair reiterated that content creators will not be punished for sharing their views on their own platform, whether that’s on social media or streaming platforms. They just can’t do it on official Blizzard broadcasts.