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Blizzard CEO apologises for Hearthstone Hong Kong controversy

"We didn't live up to the high standards we set ourselves."

BlizzCon's opening presentation just kicked off, but before diving into any of the details on new game announcements, Blizzard CEO J. Allen Brack took a moment to address the company's recent controversy over the suspension of a Hearthstone player for expressing pro-Hong Kong views.

"Blizzard had the opportunity to bring the world together in a tough Hearthstone esports moment a month ago, and we did not," Brack told the audience. "We moved too quickly in our decision-making, and to make matters worse we were too slow to talk to all of you.

"When I think about what I'm most unhappy about it was two things - first, we didn't live up to the high standards we set ourselves and the second, we failed in our purpose. For that I accept responsibility and I am sorry.

"So what exactly is our purpose? BlizzCon is demonstrating it even as we speak. We aspire to bring the world together in epic entertainment, and I truly believe in the positive power of the video game. When we get it right, we create a common ground where the community comes together. To compete, connect and play. As an example, BlizzCon has people from 59 countries at the show today - and that is amazing, is the positive power of video games."

Brack also seemed to address the ongoing protests currently taking place outside the Blizzcon building, in which protesters are currently handing out Free Hong Kong t-shirts and holding banners (along with a few Winnie the Pooh costumes - an anti-China protest symbol).

"We will do better going forward, but our actions are going to matter more than any of these words. As you walk around this weekend, I hope it's clear how committed we are to everyone's right to express themselves, in all kinds of ways, in all kinds of places. I've actually seen and heard many of you expressing yourselves this morning!

"Once again, Blizzcon has brought us together, and you're going to see a lot of the hard work of the Blizzard team."

Blizzard's previous statement on the Hong Kong controversy shied away from an apology, but reduced player Chung "Blitzchung" Ng Wai's suspension from one year to six months. As of yet there's no word on whether this will be altered further, but accepting responsibility may well be the first step in rebuilding Blizzard's strained relationship with its community. Whether it'll be enough to calm down the Hong Kong protests at BlizzCon is another matter.

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Emma Kent

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A former Eurogamer intern and reporter, Emma loves delving into communities and modding scenes in search of the weird and wonderful. Oh, and be prepared for puns. Lots of horrible puns.

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