Despite BlizzCon traditionally occurring in November, Blizzard has decided it's best off cancelling this year's event due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Back in April, Blizzard announced that it was exploring whether BlizzCon remained feasible, and now it's decided that it's just not wise to continue the conference this time around. In a blog post, event executive producer Saralyn Smith announced: "ultimately, after considering our options, we’ve come to the very difficult decision to not have BlizzCon this year." As she put it, summing up many people's feelings right now, "a lot has changed...and a lot also hasn't changed," since the company last considered what to do regarding BlizzCon.
She mentions that different paths were considered which we believe is probably something like digital events or even a scaled-down conference with extensive social distancing measures but, ultimately, it's just not safe to do so this year.
On the plus side, Smith does suggest that there will be some way of providing online events instead. However, as it's "new-ish territory", she also says it most likely won't be until sometime early next year. Where that leaves esports is a tricky one in particular given that BlizzCon is usually a big arena for such games and while alternatives are currently being sought, nothing has been announced just yet.
Typically, the Overwatch World Cup, the World of Warcraft Arena World Championship (AWC), and major Starcraft II and Hearthstone championships tend to be held at BlizzCon, making it a pivotal part of the esports calendar. In recent times, all regular-season Overwatch League matches as well as the AWC Battle for Azeroth season have been moved to online-only play so the precedent is there for a bigger online move but it's still all up in the air for now.
Given such things are big business, it would be prudent for Blizzard to move fast both in terms of "[channeling] the BlizzCon spirit" that Smith references in the announcement and in terms of keeping esports going at its usual pace. There's also the small matter of game announcements with Overwatch 2 and Diablo 4 expected to be given release dates during BlizzCon this year, although we're guessing this can be done in a smaller, more subdued manner than usual.
Still, it's not like BlizzCon is the only convention hit by the pandemic with mostly every convention you can name switching to online-only or being cancelled. The only one currently still going ahead? PAX West in September, supposedly.
February 26 2021 | 22:15