Blizzard has announced that it's cancelling plans for an online BlizzCon event that was scheduled for February 2022.
The annual fan convention that used to be the centerpiece of Blizzard's marketing strategy has taken a pounding thanks to both the COVID-19 pandemic, and the numerous lawsuits accusing Activision Blizzard of fostering a culture of sexual harassment and toxicity.
You can see the influence of both events in Blizzard's announcement. First, the company describes BlizzCon as an "entire-company effort," and it feels that right now the energy toward producing the show "is best directed towards supporting our teams and progressing development of our games and experiences."
Following that, Blizzard states that it's looking to "reimagine" what BlizzCon events look like, and to ensure that a future event is as "safe, welcoming, and inclusive as possible."
BlizzCon occupies a large chunk of the State of California's lawsuit against Blizzard, stating that at booze-filled events adjacent to the convention, employees like former World of Warcraft designer Alex Afrasiabi would allegedly sexually harass other Blizzard staffers.
And while Blizzard's reckoning with a toxic culture of sexual harassment is a notable part of this story, it's worth noting how COVID-19 is not only changing the events business, but Blizzard's development timelines. The proliferation of online events, (particularly for revealing new games, movies, and TV shows) has rewritten expectations for how games are revealed.
And as companies try to manage the world of vaccine mandates, COVID-19 variant spikes, and development delays, there remains plenty of uncertainty for companies like Blizzard that use these events to hype their products. It makes sense that the event might need re-imagining at multiple levels.