Blizzard cancels 2022 BlizzCon amid harrassment scandal fallout
Feb. show nixxed in favor of “supporting our teams and progressing development.”
Following an online-only BlizzCon earlier this year, Blizzard announced in May that its annual, announcement-packed convention for 2022 would be “combining an online show along the lines of our recent BlizzConline with smaller in-person gatherings.” Today, though, the company says it is “tak[ing] a step back and paus[ing] the planning” for that event.
In a post titled Reimagining BlizzCon, the company says that the all-hands-on-deck focus needed to pull off a show on the magnitude of BlizzCon just wasn’t the right fit for the company at this point:
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. 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.
Unaddressed in the announcement (but present as a heavy subtext throughout) are the multiple lawsuits Activision Blizzard is facing in the wake of a California investigation into allegations of widespread workplace harassment and sexual misconduct at the company going back years. That still-roiling scandal comes after a flurry of high-profile departures in recent years, including Overwatch game director Jeff Kaplan in April.
As part of its “reimagining” of what BlizzCon will look like going forward, the company acknowledges that it “need[s] to ensure that [BlizzCon] feels as safe, welcoming, and inclusive as possible.”
Since its start in 2005, BlizzCon has grown into a massive fan gathering that attracted over 40,000 attendees for its 2018 show. The last in-person BlizzCon event, held in late 2019, faced in-person protests amid the backlash to the company’s punishment of outspoken pro-Hong-Kong Hearthstone player Ng “Blitzchung” Wai Chung. Following that event, Blizzard skipped a 2020 convention in favor of an online-only fan celebration in early 2021 amid the COVID pandemic.
Blizzard previously canceled a planned BlizzCon back in 2012, when it said a convention wasn’t possible because the company was “heavily focused on getting Diablo III, [World of Warcraft‘s] Mists of Pandaria, and [StarCraft II‘s] Heart of the Swarm into players’ hands as soon as possible.” Back in those days, Blizzard said that it incurred a “substantial loss” from running the convention, despite charging $125 per ticket and selling pay-per-view streaming rights for fans at home.
Blizzard says it will “still be making announcements and updates for our games” through the company’s “franchise channels” going forward. Those coming announcements may have a little less pop, though, without the pomp and bombast of an event like BlizzCon to focus industry attention on the company.