BlizzCon 2019: Major Announcements and Major Protests
Mon, April 19, 2021

BlizzCon 2019: Major Announcements and Major Protests

Blizzard announced two major new games and two expansions to its existing franchise at the Blizzcon 2019. / Photo by: Randy Miramontez via Shutterstock

 

This year's BlizzCon goes down in video game history books partly because of Activision Blizzard's major announcements and also because of the protests that went on as the convention proceeded.

Blizzard announced two major new games and two expansions to its existing franchise: Confirming the development of Overwatch 2, debuting Diablo 4, and expanding Word of Warcraft and Hearthstone.

But before these announcements, Blizzard President J. Allen Brack addressed last month's controversy involving a Hearthstone player who got suspended for voicing his support for pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong.

While Brack's statement suggested Blizzard accepting accountability over the Hong Kong controversy, gamers still weren't happy.

Biggest BlizzCon Announcements

Brack confirmed that Overwatch 2 is under development, which will be a full-on sequel that focuses on co-op and new PvE modes. According to the PC Gamer, a UK-based gaming magazine, the sequel will have Story Missions and Hero Missions in which players can level up their heroes.

Overwatch 2's PvP additions such as new maps and heroes will also be updated from Overwatch 1 for a "shared multiplayer environment." Skins and cosmetics earned in the first game will carry over to the sequel as well so that players won't have to worry about losing anything when they jump over to Overwatch 2.

Diablo 4 is a "true sequel" to Diablo 2 with its satanic rituals, occult symbols, and an extreme amount of blood, PC Gamer said. The announcement for Diablo 4 came with an extended CG trailer to set up the story and followed by a few minutes of gameplay footage.

 

Overwatch 2 will have Story Missions and Hero Missions in which players can level up their heroes. / Photo by: Sari ONeal via Shutterstock

 

The gaming magazine added that the only thing known for now is that the sequel has a non-linear story set in an open world that players can explore. Diablo 4 won't have an offline mode and it won't be released in the near future.

The expansion of World of Warcraft—called Shadowlands—was among the highlights of the event. It will be released next year and "will take players to an alternate realm of death and decay where they must choose one of several factions to align with to fight against Sylvanas," the PC Gamer explained.

It added that Shadowlands will follow any expansion, meaning it will have major changes to most of WoW's current systems and progression—some of these include a limited level cap of 60 and a new endgame dungeon "that's basically a self-enclosed roguelike."

Hearthstone was also announced to have an expansion called Descent of Dragons. It will have a new mode called Battleground (taken from the auto-battle genre), which will soon be in beta.

Other notable news included the expansion of Warcraft 3: Reforged closed beta, along with a release date, and the still ongoing development of Diablo Immortal (the mobile clone announced last year).

Unhappy Gamers

The BlizzCon announcements made a buzz in the gaming world, but it wasn't the only thing that stormed the community over the weekend. Along with the convention were protesters showing support for Hong Kong after Blizzard suspended Hearthstone pro Chung “Blitzchung” Ng Wai.

According to the New York Times, Chung got suspended for speaking out his support for the pro-democracy and anti-China protests in Hong Kong during a post-match interview last month as he shouted in Mandarin: "Liberate Hong Kong, revolution of our times!"

Blizzard announced days later that the player violated competition rules for offending "a portion or group of the public." This resulted in Chung being stripped off $10,000 in winnings and was prohibited from the game for a year. The game company also suspended the hosts of the match's live stream.

The gaming company's actions earned it accusations of being motivated by business interests in China, the Times said, adding that gamers expressed their anger through social media by trending an anti-Blizzard boycott. Company employees also staged a walkout while a creator of WoW said he had canceled his personal subscription to the game.

On Friday, however, Brack apologized for the issue, saying: "We moved too quickly in our decision and then to make matters worse, we were too slow to talk with all of you.

"I am sorry and I accept accountability," he added, as per CNN.

While Brack did address the issue, it was rather brief and he did not get into specifics. The Blizzard president also did not disclose if there was any change in Chung's suspension, aside from shortening it and restoring his winnings, nor speak how the company will address similar issues in the future.

Gamers are not happy with this and said Brack's apology was not enough.

A 23-year-old gamer, who tuned into the event online, said Brack's apology was "absolutely PR damage control" and that having him "come up on stage and expect everyone to get over it by basically saying 'sorry' and then showing a game trailer for 'Diablo IV' shows just how much they want to bury the story, instead of tackling it head-on and trying to fix their image."

Another gamer said he doesn't see any "legitimate change happening in the future" and that the company is hoping people won't pay any attention to the "language used" and will just forget about the incident.