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Blizzard Cancels Overwatch Launch Event At NintendoNYC

Blizzard Entertainment has cancelled the event meant to commemorate the launch of the Overwatch: Legendary Edition for the Nintendo Switch at NintendoNYC on Wednesday, October 16. This move follows weeks of controversy surrounding the company's decision to suspend Hearthstone Grandmaster champion Ng Wai Chung a.k.a. "Blitzchung" for speaking in support of the Hong Kong protests during a post-match interview.

The backlash has carried over into the festivities planned for the Overwatch Nintendo Switch launch and has cast a dark cloud over the Overwatch Halloween Terror event that went live today. Critical commentary regarding the Hong Kong political situation and Blizzard's harsh treatment of Blitzchung have overrun the posts on the Overwatch social media pages with many still calling for a boycott of the game developer. Others continue to push Overwatch's Mei as a symbol of the Hong Kong protests, hoping to get Blizzard Entertainment banned in China.

The Overwatch launch event was announced earlier this month prior to the explosion of vitriol and outrage. Nintendo NY shared the cancellation of the event last night. Neither Nintendo or Blizzard has linked the cancellation to the ongoing PR nightmare, however, the timing suggests that the two are related. 

Though some Nintendo fans may be disappointed by the missed opportunity to meet the voice actors behind Overwatch, many aired their support of the cancellation on Twitter. "And nothing of value was lost," wrote one user. "Good. Frankly? Nintendo should not be doing business with companies like these," wrote another. The comments were peppered with more artwork depicting Mei in protest attire declaring "Free Hong Kong."

Blizzard amended their initial ruling against Blitzchung late last week, reducing his suspension from 12 months to 6 months and allowing him to collect his prize money. Beyond this, the company has remained relatively quiet in the face of the continuing criticism with many people, including some U.S. politicians, accusing them of bowing to Chinese censorship and placing greed above freedom and human rights. 

The cancellation of the launch event, along with the ongoing outrage, places Blizzard in a delicate situation with BlizzCon, their annual convention, only weeks away. At least one BlizzCon 2019 protest is already in the works which could explain why the October 16 launch event was dropped from the schedule.