Blizzard has announced a "pause" on plans for an online BlizzCon event that was expected to take place in early 2022, saying that the effort required to mount the show "is best directed towards supporting our teams."
The first BlizzConline, as Blizzard dubbed it, took place in February 2021 as a stand-in for the 2020 live event, which was cancelled because of the Covid-19 pandemic. A live BlizzCon 2021 event was called off earlier this year for the same reason, at which time Blizzard announced that the all-digital event would return in early 2022.
But that plan has been derailed by a lawsuit filed against Activision Blizzard in July that claimed widespread discrimination and sexual harassment at the company. Those allegations led to the dismissal of executives including former Blizzard president J. Allen Brack, Diablo 4 game director Luis Barriga and lead level designer Jesse McCree, and World of Warcraft designer Jonathan LeCraft. Blizzard has also been removing references to those former employees and others from its games.
Blizzard didn't refer to the misconduct allegations in the BlizzCon announcement, but the timing—and the allusion to supporting developers instead of putting on a big, celebratory show—is impossible to overlook.
"Any BlizzCon event takes every single one of us to make happen, an entire-company effort, fueled by our desire to share what we create with the community we care about so much," Blizzard said. "At this time, we feel the energy it would take to put on a show like this is best directed towards supporting our teams and progressing development of our games and experiences."
Blizzard also suggested that if and when BlizzCon does return, it will be very different from the event we're used to seeing.
"The first BlizzCon was held 16 years ago, and so much has changed in the time since—most notably, the multiple ways in which players and communities can come together and feel like they are a part of something bigger," Blizzard continued. "Whatever the event looks like in the future, we also need to ensure that it feels as safe, welcoming, and inclusive as possible. We’re committed to continual communication with our players, and we see BlizzCon playing a big role in that going forward."
The timing of the cancellation is also interesting for another reason: Today is the day that the Overwatch character formerly known as McCree takes on his new name of Cole Cassidy. Until November 5, Blizzard is also offering Overwatch battletag changes, which normally cost $10, for free.
Despite the cancellation of the event, Blizzard promised that announcements and updates about its ongoing projects will continue through the usual channels.