Nintendo announced earlier today that Blizzard pulled out of the Nintendo NY Overwatch Launch Event. Scheduled to take place tomorrow, Oct. 16, Nintendo and blizzard organized the event to celebrate the launch of the Overwatch Legendary Edition on Nintendo Switch, itself hitting storefronts today.
Alongside an open session running earlier in the day, 150 fans had signed up for an exclusive meet and greet with the voice actors from Blizzard’s flagship multiplayer first-person shooter in the evening.
Nintendo stopped short of providing solid reasoning behind the decision from Blizzard to pull out at the last minute in what was a sparing and matter of fact tweet sharing the news.
The natural assumption from many onlookers is that the last-minute cop-out may have been precipitated by last week’s PR fiasco ignited by the pro-Hong Kong calls for liberation from Hearthstone player Blitzchung and Blizzard’s subsequent response.
As the week wore on, the gaming giant’s decision to ban and rescind all of Blitzchung’s prize money led to massive outrage from fans, casters, and even a selection of politicians. On Friday, Blizzard issued an apology of sorts and reduced the ban from one year to six months in what was an apparent attempt to assuage the controversy.
Whether the decision to pull out of the event links to the Blitzchung/Hong Kong debacle or not, all eyes are on Blizzard after last week’s backlash, and the cancellation viewed through that lens.
We may never get an official explanation, but an organized effort to protest Blizzard events, primarily this month’s BlizzCon, and the safety concerns this raises for staff must factor into the decision.
Many fans fear the cancellation may extend to BlizzCon, but in our estimation, this is unlikely. The backlash from conference-goers who have already laid down thousands of dollars for travel, accommodation, and passes would further entrench negative feelings towards the company.
Secondly, Blizzard has too much invested in BlizzCon from revenue sources to massive season-culminating eSports events, including the Overwatch World Cup, to outright cancel.