Blizzard Entertainment has put a pause on a World of Warcraft: Shadowlands livestream in solidarity with the George Floyd protests. Fans looked forward to the livestream, as it was going to reveal exclusive details for the new expansion. Some have expressed disappointment or confusion with the decision in light of the publisher’s past political decisions regarding Hong Kong.
On Friday afternoon, the official World of Warcraft Twitter account announced the delay following the worldwide civil unrest, stating, “More important voices than ours need to be heard, and now is the time to listen.” The company has postponed the event scheduled for June 9 but has yet to announce a new date. More details will come in the future.
More important voices than ours need to be heard, and now is the time to listen.
We are postponing our upcoming World of Warcraft: Shadowlands livestream planned for June 9, and will share more details about the expansion in the future.
— World of Warcraft (@Warcraft) June 5, 2020
Dissatisfied fans and criticism
Fans harbored mixed feelings to the announcement, with many referring back to Blizzard’s political response in Hong Kong. One fan shamed the company for not doing more for the banned Hearthstone pro player, Ng Wai “Blitzchung” Chung, who voiced his support for Hong Kong during a post-game interview last year. Blizzard stated that he violated the 2019 Hearthstone Grandmasters Official Competition Rules in doing so. As a consequence, the organization’s initial response was to remove him from the Grandmasters tournament, and he lost all prizes earned from Season 2. Additionally, he was stripped of his right to participate in Hearthstone esports events until October 2020. Following criticism, Blizzard addressed an apology at BlizzCon 2019.
Blizzard’s treatment of Blitzchung sparked outrage in the Blizzard community and even caused fans to boycott the company. Many fans have referred to this incident now, stating today’s political statement is self-serving.
Sorry but their response at Blizzcon was TOTAL garbage. Of they were sorry, they would have made steps to correct it. They didn't.
It's absolutely right that they postpone the announcement on the 9th… But that doesn't mean we should forget/give them a pass for Hong Kong.
— Love, LittlebroGaymer (@LittlebroGaymer) June 5, 2020
Supporting the protests
Fans supporting the company’s decision to delay the World of Warcraft: Shadowlands livestream have urged Blizzard to donate money like other organizations like EA, Square Enix, and The Pokémon Company.
As the protests have grown larger in support of the Black Lives Matter movement, esports companies have spoken out regardless of pushback. Blizzard’s response comes over a week after George Floyd’s death on May 25, which some fans suspect as disingenuous. Regardless of the criticism, others are glad they spoke up and are standing in support with protestors.
No further comment from Blizzard has been made, and we will continue to update as details develop. Stay tuned to Daily Esports for more esports and gaming news.