Approaching steadily, BlizzCon already swirls with tension as the Blizzard-bashing continues. Following the banning of two commentators and Hearthstone Grandmaster, Blitzchung, after his call for Hong Kong's liberation, Blizzard has faced a myriad of complaints from around the world.
With last year's BlizzCon viewed not only as lackluster but the most disappointing BlizzCon ever, Blizzard has a lot riding on their upcoming event. It comes as no surprise then that Blizard has planned massive announcements for BlizzCon 2019, but will they be what fans want to hear, or just a lot of out of season April Fools jokes?
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Rectifying the #BoycottBlizzard Debacle
There's most likely nothing Blizzard can do at this point to avert their already downward spiraling public image, of which has been likened and even estimated as worse than EA. They recently experienced more criticism for publishing a press release believed to be written by the Chinese, and with their official Chinese account vowing to protect 'the national dignity' of China, it becomes clear Blizzard is protecting its largest foreign cash cow rather than bolstering player base or concerning itself with moral freedoms. It's important to note Activision Blizzard CEO Bobby Kotick is one of the most well-paid individuals in the video game industry with an annual salary of $30 million.
It's left unclear if they will make another announcement concerning Blitzchung and the two suspended commentators after having rolled back the initial 12-month bans and even caving to worldwide pressures in awarding Blitzchung his rightful prize money. What is clear is that a massive crowd of angry fans and players will be protesting Blizzard's Chinese support en masse at BlizzCon. There can be expected a multitude of both Winnie the Pooh and Overwatch's Mei cosplay in attendance. One Redditor has even claimed, in their opinion, that it's very possible there won't be any QA panels at BlizzCon at all, which may well be the closest thing Blizzard could do to canceling the event while avoiding backlash.
An Ever-Unlikely Diablo 4 Announcement
BlizzCon still grows in anticipation with the likes of Jason Schrier alluding to some big announcements. Fans are wondering, with #BoycottBlizzard disrupting the publisher's image, will a Diablo 4 reveal even matter? It's highly unlikely, that is if that game is even shown. Last year's Diablo Immortal reveal left fan's irritated and hungry for more, to say the least. With #BoycottBlizzard swirling around them, Blizzard needs to find some mutual ground with fans or else plenty of their already dwindling player base will likewise vanish.
World of Warcraft is similarly due for attention with an upcoming expansion possibly getting teased at BlizzCon. Given the fact that Blizzard is selling virtual tickets with exclusive Overwatch skins for the fans who can't make it to the Anaheim Convention Center, there may even be some Overwatch 2 news to get hyped for. Though, it all remains on the extreme down-low as Blizzard itself has - for obvious reasons - battened down the hatches.
In all likelihood, though, it'll probably end up being a disaster.
Staving Off The Storm Over BlizzCon
In a community post on Blizzard's own blog, one member asks "How big should the BlizzCon announcements be so people start forgiving Blizzard?" In response, another member bullet points their own anticipations:
"WoW goes free to play. Every player that logs into Hearthstone during BlizzCon gets 250 random golden cards. Starcraft 3 announced, with a whole new faction. Blitzchung invited to host something at BlizzCon. Diablo 4 release date (November 3). Blizzard and Activision are no longer together. Overwatch announces campaign mode. Ben Brode is back."
Granted, Activision and Blizzard may never separate. And, there's absolutely no chance that Blitzchung will ever be invited to BlizzCon, though with the amount of displeasure Blizzard has sunk itself into, it may be the only way it can appease guests. There's absolutely nothing Blizzard can do to amend the amount of criticism faced from last year's Diablo Immortal reveal, flat-out ignoring their player base to achieve higher revenues in the mobile sector. The Diablo fanbase is in need of some sort of news to keep them motivated to play, otherwise, it's yet another group of gamers lost to the wind.
Of most importance, as it rightfully should be, is the Blitzchung debacle and the route to which Blizzard is willing to take to amend its actions. Especially in the aftermath of so much negative press, Blizzard has much and more to answer for, yet there current stance and recent press releases have seemingly only angered more reticent gamers. There may be little to nothing said by Blizzard, but there is absolutely no way they will completely cancel BlizzCon. Even with the plentitude of cosplayers and protestors drawing attention to Hong Kong's liberation and Blitzchung's banning, Blizzard still has tickets to sell and a show to run. It will be interesting to see how they deal with the onslaught.
BlizzCon opens doors on November 1 at 9:30 am, but there's plenty of pregame festivities to choose from as the ever-growing storm closes in.