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Tomorrow (Wednesday, October 16) was supposed to be a pretty big day for Overwatch fans who live in New York. Nintendo and Blizzard had planned a big old launch event to mark the popular hero shooter's arrival on Switch.
It was to take place at the Nintendo World Store in New York City, there was to be the chance for fans to meet the actors behind some of the game's characters, and we can assume that there might even have been some kind of spread. In my experience with video game events, I'm betting there were to be mini burgers and muffins.
Please be aware that the previously announced Overwatch launch event scheduled for Wednesday, 10/16 at NintendoNYC has been cancelled by Blizzard. We apologize for any inconvenience this may cause.
- Nintendo NY (@NintendoNYC) October 15, 2019
Unfortunately, this event has now been cancelled by Blizzard. This is according to the official Nintendo NY Twitter account, which didn't really have any more information to share on the matter, beyond making it clear that the cancellation was very much Blizzard's call.
Why would the company cancel the event at such short notice? What possible reason could it have for doing this? It's not for me to say, although there are plenty of gamers out there who have their own theories.
Changing the subject completely and unexpectedly, Blizzard is very much in the proverbial dog house right now with pretty much everyone on the planet over its handling of Hearthstone pro player Chung "Blitzchung" Ng Wai.
If you somehow managed to miss last week's turbulent events, Blitzchung appeared during a post-game livestream where he came out in support of the ongoing Hong Kong protests.
Blizzard didn't take too kindly to this, and chose to ban to ban Blitzchung from 2019's Hearthstone Grandmasters Official Competition, while also taking the prize money he earned during Grandmasters Season 2.
What followed was a week of backlash against Blizzard, as employees threatened walkouts, gamers planned protests, and other high-profile players and casters on the Hearthstone pro scene either refused to play or stepped away from the game outright.
Following this,Blizzard finally issued a statement in which it insisted its suspension of Blitzchung had nothing to do with protecting its business interests in China (as many had suggested). The company also reduced the player's suspension from a year to six months, and confirmed it'd be returning his prize money - but in the eyes of many the damage had already been done.
With this in mind, we can assume (though can't say for certain) that Blizzard opted to cancel the New York Overwatch event in an effort to avoid any ugly situations that would take the focus off of the game and put needless heat on innocent Nintendo employees (and Overwatch voice actors).
Gamers are still planning to protest the company at BlizzCon in two weeks after all, so hosting a high-profile launch event in the Big Apple could attract exactly the kind of attention Blizzard is trying to avoid right now. Unforunately, I doubt they can cancel BlizzCon at this point.
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