Blizzard Cancels 'Overwatch' Launch Event Amid China Censorship Controversy

The event was planned for New York City on Wednesday. But Blizzard can only hide for so long.
October 15, 2019, 3:54pm
Screen Shot 2019-10-15 at 11
Image: Blizzard

Monday night, Nintendo announced that Blizzard has canceled its launch event for Overwatch on Nintendo Switch. The launch was planned to take place on October 16 at Nintendo’s New York City store.

Blizzard and Nintendo did not offer any reason for the event's cancellation and Blizzard did not immediately respond to Motherboard’s request for comment.

Blizzard is in the midst of an "internet shitstorm" after suspending Hong Kong Hearthstone player Chung Ng Wai ("blitzchung") for declaring his support of Hong Kong's pro-democracy protests. Initially, Blizzard rescinded his $500,000 prize for winning the Asia-Pacific regional tournament and was suspended for one year. On Friday, the developer promised to return his prize money and shortened the suspension to six months, but still stood by its original decision to sanction him.

In a statement issued by Blizzard Friday, the company asserted that “Every Voice Matters” but doubled down by saying it would silence players who used official channels to talk about anything other than the game.

Blizzard has been hounded by waves of criticism that are building as more companies go out of their way to collaborate with China on censorship. A large protest is planned at BlizzCon, Blizzard's annual fan convention in Anaheim, California, employees are already protesting, U.S. politicians have condemned Blizzard's actions, human rights organizations have lambasted the company, a boycott is now underway, and Overwatch itself has become a symbol in the protest movement.

Presumably, Blizzard canceled the event to try to avoid any public protests associated with the launch of Overwatch, but the company can only hide for so long.