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Blizzard in Hot Water Over China, Cancels Switch Overwatch Event

Blizzard finds themselves the center of more negative press following their decision to cancel an Overwatch launch event for the Switch port of the game. The event was canceled by Blizzard less than 48 hours before it was scheduled to take place.

Overwatch
Blizzard

Nintendo NYC announced the news from their official Twitter account, stating, “Please be aware that the previously announced Overwatch launch event scheduled for Wednesday, 10/16 at NintendoNYC has been cancelled by Blizzard. We apologize for any inconvenience this may cause.” Fans are certain this has something to do with Blizzard’s PR nightmare relating to their apparent deference to the Chinese government.

What’s the Blizzard-China Connection?

Last week, Blizzard made a blunder of epic proportions in banning Hearthstone streamer Chung ‘blitzchung’ Ng Wai after he stated in an interview on stream that he stood in solidarity with Hong Kong. For those out of the loop, the people of Hong Kong have been protesting the Chinese government for months in an effort to bring democracy to their country.

Following blitzchung’s ban, which also included him being stripped of prize money, Blizzard caught flak from gamers and politicians alike. Many were disgusted by the company’s apparent censorship of players outside of China on behalf of the totalitarian government. A reddit post that garnered thousands of upvotes read, “If Blizzard wants the yuan worse than they want the dollar, why don’t they move their headquarters to Beijing?”

What’s the Official Reason the Event was Canceled?

Neither Blizzard nor Nintendo has given an official reason for the cancellation, though it’s not hard to see why Blizzard is hesitant to put itself under the spotlight right now. The responses to the Nintendo tweet regarding the cancellation are evidence enough that the company has few fans in the West at present.

Most of the responses include artwork of Overwatch character Mei dressed as a Hong Kong protester, an effort by the community to reclaim the canonically Chinese character in the face of Blizzard’s policies. Other responses are in solidarity with Hong Kong and their cries for democracy, while others still are encouraging gamers to steer clear of Blizzard games in order to hurt the company’s bottom line.

Overwatch launched October 15 on Switch. However, it’s quite likely the servers will be a bit lonely in the face of ongoing boycotts of the company.

Cameron Norris

Cameron Norris

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