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Blizzard has seemingly canceled the event meant to mark Overwatch’s coming launch on Nintendo Switch.
The Twitter account for Nintendo’s New York City store made the announcement only days before the event was set to start, offering no reason for the decision but noting that Blizzard was ultimately the one to call it off.
The Overwatch launch event was announced earlier this month, and scheduled to take place at that NYC location on October 16.
In the time since the launch event was planned, Blizzard has stepped into a significant amount of yet-ongoing controversy for taking disciplinary action against a Hearthstone player that voiced his support of Hong Kong’s ongoing pro-democracy protests on a tournament stream.
Blizzard’s initial reaction saw that player, Blitzchung, and both interviewers banned from official Hearthstone events for 12 months, though Blizzard later reduced that to only 6 months. Blitzchung’s event winners were also originally revoked, but Blizzard likewise rescinded that decision.
In a statement released alongside those amended punishments, Blizzard president J. Allen Brack noted that the rule it says Blitzchung’s statement violated (detailed here) exists to ensure “official broadcasts remain focused on the game and are not a platform for divisive social or political views.”
Some have speculated that Blizzard’s swift action aimed to keep the company from falling out of China’s good graces, either because the lucrative game market is closely regulated by government officials or due to Activision Blizzard’s financial ties with the massive Chinese company Tencent.
But in that statement, Brack said “The specific views expressed by Blitzchung were NOT a factor in the decision we made. I want to be clear: our relationships in China had no influence on our decision.”
It is worth noting that neither Nintendo nor Blizzard have explicitly linked the controversy to the decision to call off the in-store event, but the timing is of note especially given the fact that public outcry has yet to die down. Beyond tomorrow’s now-canceled event, Blizzard is also weeks away from hosting its annual BlizzCon convention in Anaheim, California.