BlizzCon 2021 Canceled Over COVID-19 Concerns for Second Year Running
Bad news for Blizzard fans hoping to congregate in Anaheim this year. BlizzCon 2021 has been canceled for the second year in a row due to concerns around COVID-19 restrictions.
“As guidelines in California around in-person gatherings continue to evolve and the status of the pandemic fluctuates around the globe, the teams across Blizzard have been discussing what this means for one of the events we miss the most: BlizzCon,” said Saralyn Smith, BlizzCon’s executive producer, in a statement. “We know some of you might be wondering about your own plans to potentially cross the country—not to mention oceans—and meet your friends, family, and fellow community members in California, so today, we wanted to give you a heads-up that we’ve decided we will not be holding BlizzCon this year.”
Some pointed out that this could have been done because of a light content load, alongside the restrictions and lack of planning time. However, this is unconfirmed and simply speculation on the part of what’s increasingly becoming a disgruntled community.
“Building an in-person BlizzCon is an epic and complex affair that takes many months of preparation—not just for us, but also for the many talented production partners, esports pros, hosts, entertainers, artists, and other collaborators we team up with locally and globally to put all of the pieces together,” Smith continued. “The ongoing complexities and uncertainties of the pandemic have impacted our ability to properly move forward on many of these fronts, and ultimately we’re now past the point where we’d be able to develop the kind of event we’d want to create for you in November.”
Blizzard Planning an Alternative to BlizzCon Early Next Year
All hope is not lost, however. It seems that Blizzard’s esports programs will push on without BlizzCon, though there’s no confirmation about what that means for the Overwatch World Cup or any specifics about what this might entail. The seasons for various games have already gotten underway, including the Overwatch League, various World of Warcraft events, and Hearthstone Grandmasters. It seems that BlizzConline will be a blueprint for a replacement this year, with some smaller in-person gatherings hoping to make up for what’s been the mecca for the Blizzard community for nearly 15 years now.
“But we don’t want to let too long go by before we connect with everyone again,” Smith concluded. “So in the meantime, we’re planning a global event for the early part of next year, combining an online show along the lines of our recent BlizzConline with smaller in-person gatherings, and we’ll share more as our plans come together.”
Is This Just Convenient Timing for Blizzard?
Some have suggested on social media that this is all just convenient timing for Activision Blizzard. They’ve already revealed some big news for Overwatch 2 in that the game is shifting to a 5v5 setting, and Diablo IV likely needs more time in the oven before it’s truly ready to be shown off again.
However, BlizzCon is usually a huge deal for World of Warcraft in that they reveal what’s upcoming for the game. With Shadowlands having been out for a while now, we’re due for some announcements on that front.
Additionally, BlizzCon has traditionally been the culmination of several Blizzard esports, if not some of the biggest exhibitions in those games, including the Overwatch World Cup, the World of Warcraft Arena finals, the Starcraft 2 World Finals, and others. It’s highly unlikely that Blizzard would be looking to delay BlizzCon 2021 for any reason other than what they stated, especially when canceling and moving BlizzCon is seen as such a PR blow to the company. Blizzard’s fanbase is ravenous for not only content from their favorite games but also the chance to meet up with their fellow guildmates or friends they’ve made playing Overwatch – some of the only chances that they get throughout the year.
With COVID-19 still absolutely a thing that needs to be worried about, Blizzard doesn’t make sense to take the risk and still plan on BlizzCon happening in person this year. They have long since passed the point where they would have had to commit to renting out the Anaheim Convention Center.
Better to have a solid return to form for Blizzard in 2022 than risk having to cancel the event on short notice or plan something lackluster. BlizzConline 2021 (which itself was a delayed replacement for BlizzCon 2020), which only ran a few months ago, might be a viable option should they still want to do something for their community again. Still, Blizzard also stated that they were looking to do an in-person alternative early next year.