Let’s talk about everyone’s favorite topics, contracts, legal precedence and most importantly how it all relates to the current drama unfolding here on Reddit.
Lately, I’ve been reading a lot of people saying, “If only Blizzard had just stayed neutral.” Here’s the thing, they tried. No one cared about Blizzard having business in China, however, that all came to an end once Blitzchung made his statement on an official Blizzard stream.
Blitzchung’s statement forced Blizzard into a catch 22, with only a handful of options at their disposal.
They allow Blitzchung to make his statement, and do nothing about it.
They allow Blitzchung to make his statement, and later follow through with punishing him per the conditions of his contract.
They prevent the interview with Blitzchung from being shown.
So let’s break down why all three of these options sucked for Blizzard.
Option 1, another catchphrase I see people throwing around is the “Streisand Effect.” Where if only Blizzard had let the statement go, no one would have ever noticed. Hypothetically, maybe. Realistically, wasn’t going to happen. A Pro-Hong Kong statement made on an official stream originating from Taiwan? I highly doubt it’d have flown under the radar, it’s too perfect of a combination to make China chafe.
Next, by inaction Blizzard can be seen as taking a Pro-Hong Kong position, moving them away from the aforementioned “neutrality.”
Also, it sets up a dangerous legal precedence. The minute you allow one political statement, you then give precedence for another to be made. Even if the second statement made is far worse than the first, because you’ve allowed the first to occur, if you attempt to enact your contract, the individual from the second event can use the first time against you, stating that you’ve allowed similar speech in the past, and you are discriminating against their beliefs. So this leads to, once you let one person make their statement, you have to let everyone make a similar statement, and Blizzard rightfully doesn’t want their interviews to be about politics.
Option 2, whilst probably the safest option, we’ve all witnessed how that played out. The root of the problem with Option 2 here for Blizzard, was the specifications of the punishment laid out in their contract with Blitzchung (Source 1). It was, asinine. However, it was meant to be, as means of being a deterrent against anyone making statements that might impact Blizzard.
If however, the contract hadn’t spelt out a specific punishment (that being reducing a person’s prize to 0), then Blizzard could have given a more measured punishment. An example of this is how Blizzard is handling the Collegiate Team making a similar statement, because they signed a different contract with different stipulations (Source 2, also Blitzchung makes mention of this in his response, Source 3). We’ll touch back on this topic in Option 3.
Speaking of Option 3, Blizzard attempts to prevent the interview from being shown. You need only look at some of the responses to Blizzard not allowing any interviews in the collegiate league. Now apply that same sentiment to Blitzchung’s statement, and it doesn’t take a Rhode Scholar to figure out how that’d pan out.
So Blizzard goes with Option 2, because really it’s the only choice they can make, and they follow the stipulations spelled out in the contract, cause in Blizzard’s mind, it’s what he agreed to, not realizing that it was an asinine punishment in comparison to the action taken by Blitzchung, and Blizzards wants to remain a neutral/apolitical company within the global economy.
Fast forward a few days, Blizzard receives massive backlash, and honestly, I think Blizzard’s response to reducing Blitzchung’s punishment was (mostly) fine. He broke his contract to make his statement, and again Blizzard wants the focus of their official streams to be Blizzard and its game. What did make me groan, was that bit about China. Sorry guys, but anyone can see the writing on the Wall-street. Preferably, they shouldn’t have mentioned China at all, and instead focused on the revision to Blitzchung’s punishment.
Another thing I saw, were a bunch of people upset about Blitzchung’s response to Blizzard’s reduced punishment (Source 3). So here’s the thing, Blitzchung from his first response/interview said he knew there’d be consequences, but that he objected to the severity (Source 4). So once Blizzard reduced his punishment, and explained to him an important legal loop hole within the contract, he more or less got to have his cake and eat it too. Now you’re probably wondering about this legal loop hole, take note in Blitzchung’s response to Blizzard’s reduced punishment. He mentions that he can play in another official tournament Four months from now, despite his Six Month ban from the Grandmasters (Source 3). That’s because the original punishment (and the reduced one) never fully suspended him from professional Hearthstone, it only suspended him from the Grandmasters (Source 1).
Side tangent, to anyone who is wanting to become a Pro-player, please, hire a lawyer, and have them explain everything in a contract. Honestly, everyone really ought to read all of the documentation you’re signing.
Many might be wondering, but what about the Casters?
I’m sure a lot of people on this subreddit, have had to sit through those poorly acted HR videos, or some form of HR quiz. One of these will cover, “When representing the company be careful.” If you’ve ever wondered why, it’s because of the situation you’re seeing play out for Blizzard.
Being employees of the company, when they agreed to take part in Blitzchung’s statement, and even coaxed him into saying his statement, they made the professional decision, that Blitzchung’s message was more important than upholding company policy.
I deeply respect the caster who didn’t make a video crying about his punishment, he, like Blitzchung, accepted the consequences of their action, in order to support the statement they believed in. Surprised Pikachu on the other hand, not so much. Own your words and actions, and don’t cry once you have to face the consequences.
That and with Blizzard's response, they're now only suspended from hosting the Grandmasters for six months. Which is a lot better than being completely fired.
Now, it’s time for me to face the consequences of making this post!
Blitzchung’s Response to Blizzard’s reduced punishment: https://www.twitlonger.com/show/n_1sr1jn4
Blitzchung’s Interview with Polygon:
Source: Original link
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