After entertaining the idea of cancelling Blizzcon 2020 as early as April of this year, Blizzard pulled the plug on the convention about a month later in May due to the coronavirus pandemic. When it did, the company said it was looking into possibly having a digital alternative, likely sometime in 2021. Well the company has officially written that in stone.
Gamesindustry.biz reports that during an Activision Blizzard earnings call this week, Blizzard president J. Allen Brack confirmed that whatever online equivalent the company has in the works will take place in “the early part” of next year.
“We’re really fortunate to have a passionate and engaged community that’s really looking forward to what we’re creating,” Brack said.
“We’re looking forward to sharing what the teams have been working on for that event.”
Whatever form the online Blizzcon takes, it will at least give everyone involved the opportunity to show off and learn about upcoming games without risk of spreading the coronavirus. Here’s what Blizzcon executive producer Saralyn Smith said about the idea back when the in-person event was cancelled and before it had been officially confirmed:
“We’re talking about how we might be able to channel the BlizzCon spirit and connect with you in some way online, far less impacted by the state of health and safety protocols for mass in-person gatherings. We’d want to do this as soon as we could, but given that this is new-ish territory and the different factors involved, it will most likely be sometime early next year. BlizzCon is also a stage for big esports events in Blizzard games each year, so we’re also looking into alternatives for supporting some of the high-level competition that would normally take place at the show.”
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Blizzcon is usually where Blizzard makes most of its big announcements for the year. Last year, both Overwatch 2 and Diablo 4 were officially unveiled, and were expected to make another appearance at a hypothetical Blizzcon 2020, as neither game has been seen since. Overwatch lead Jeff Kaplan said the team intended to kind of hide away after the reveal of Overwatch 2, and that the company had “no idea” when the sequel would actually be coming out. He did, however, say that he expected Blizzard would still be talking about it as an as-of-yet-unreleased game come Blizzcon 2020 had it taken place in November as per usual.
Overwatch 2 is bringing a campaign to the typically storyless game, which has primarily relegated story content to external media like animated shorts, comics, and more recently, a novel. Ironically enough, just as the series is getting a story, the series’ lead writer left Blizzard back in March. Whatever Overwatch 2’s campaign brings, it will fundamentally alter the way the game’s fandom has interacted with the story and characters, as it will be bringing real characterization and motivations to heroes who have been mostly blank slates for the past four years.