Blizzard cancels promotional event without explanation

Blizzard Entertainment is still struggling. The company sparked a firestorm last week by punishing a Hong Kong gamer who spoke up in support of protests against China during a live-stream. Today, Blizzard announced it was canceling a promotional event originally scheduled to take place tomorrow in New York but it wouldn’t say why.

Blizzard Entertainment has canceled its launch event for Overwatch on Nintendo Switch, which was scheduled for Oct. 16 at the Nintendo store in New York City. Nintendo announced the event’s cancellation late on Oct. 14…

Neither Blizzard nor Nintendo gave a reason for the event’s cancellation. Polygon has reached out to Blizzard for more information. Overwatch launches on the Nintendo Switch today.

Here’s the actual announcement:

Notice that this announcement is coming from Nintendo (makers of the Switch console), not from Blizzard. So far, Blizzard hasn’t said anything about the cancellation to any of the major gaming sites.

Despite the official silence, it’s not hard to guess what is going on here. If the company had gone forward with the launch event tomorrow, the result would have been dozens of angry gamers showing up with signs or t-shirts that read “Free Hong Kong.” Images and videos of the event would have spread on social media and the company would have taken another hit.

The cancellation may work tomorrow but Blizzard won’t be able to dodge this problem much longer. Protests are expected outside its upcoming annual convention, Blizzcon, which is just two weeks away. I suspect not all of the protesters will remain outside the event.

The company already walked back their punishment of the Hong Kong gamer who spoke up but that obviously wasn’t enough to win back disappointed fans and players. If they want to change the dynamic they need to do what the NBA has failed to do: Take a stand for freedom even if it angers mainland China. At this point, Blizzard still seems to believe angry players are less of a threat than an angry communist dictatorship. Only time will tell if they are right.