BlizzCon 2019 is a mere three weeks away, and while diehard fans of the event should be preparing for a celebration of their favorite games like Diablo, World of Warcraft, Overwatch, Hearthstone, and Starcraft, a recent string of controversies looms over the event. #BoycottBlizzard is going strong on Twitter thanks for Blizzard’s controversial decision to ban a player who made a pro-Hong Kong statement, and at this point, fans are wondering if there is anything that can save BlizzCon.
In the days since Ng Wai Chung, known in the Hearthstone esports community as Blitzchung, made the statement supporting Hong Kong, Blizzard has faced scrutiny from players around the world, media outlets, and American politicians. With so much negative attention on the company right now, it would take a miracle to turn around public perception of their actions.
Though we know that Blizzard is planning a few massive announcements, no additional information has been provided regarding what these announcement might be. However, there is reason to believe it is nothing outside of what the company already had planned prior to the outbreak of controversy. BlizzCon 2018 was in many ways a disaster following the ridiculous reveal of the mobile-only game Diablo Immortal, leaving fans of the series frustrated and annoyed at the direction Blizzard was taking. The now infamous “Do you guys not have phones?” quote and inquiry by an attendee asking if this was all a late April Fool’s joke made it clear that this year Blizzard would need to do better by its fans.
As the announcement of Diablo Immortal was a spectacular failure last year, the logical assumption is that Diablo 4 will be announced this year. Prior to the controversial moves made by Blizzard this past week, that would have been newsworthy, but now the news may be too little, too late.
There is also the possibility of other announcements, but nothing would be quite as large in scale. Another World of Warcraft or Hearthstone expansion may be revealed, or a new Overwatch character, but those are all par for the course and expected announcements either at BlizzCon or shortly after.
Regardless of what is presented, there is always the possibility of being overshadowed by protests within the event, or like last year, an unscripted question from the audience calling out Blizzard for their odd choices over the last few years. Blizzard might also be faced with a hefty challenge of managing attendees who show up in full protestor gear or spam the livestream chat with pro-Hong Kong messages as people have speculated they might. Given how badly the questions were in 2018, there is unlikely to be any open question and answer period this time around.
It is a sad state for Blizzard right now. Even before their controversial placating of the Chinese market over all others, it was clear that the company had its work cut out for them at this years BlizzCon to convince its player base that they were still interested in making great games for the PC. Now though, we may be seeing one of the most staged, disingenuous BlizzCon events in the history of the company.