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Overwatch's Pride Event Is Causing An Uproar

Many players have spent the month of June celebrating Pride in a variety of games. Battle royale titles like "Apex Legends" and "Valorant" have included in-game cosmetics for players to show their support of or inclusion in the LGBTQIA+ community, and fans have appreciated the effort. However, one popular game is missing from the celebration. Well, sort of.

"Overwatch," Blizzard's mega-popular battle royale title, didn't seem to join in on the Pride Month celebrations at first. When fans looked closer at the game, they discovered that Blizzard had included a rainbow-hued player icon as one of its June patches, but didn't announce the new cosmetic item or draw attention to its existence. Fans felt upset about Blizzard's low key rollout for what is ostensibly a Pride Month item, which prompted Blizzard to release a statement about the debacle.

Speaking to Vice, a Blizzard representative said, "We consulted with a representative group of employees and chose Rainbow to reflect the globally recognizable colors that stand as a symbol for the LGBTQIA+ community around the world." The statement insisted that "Overwatch" has "shown a commitment to diversity, inclusion and LGBTQIA+ support through our characters, lore and hopeful world." 

The representative concluded, "While we don't have plans for additional Pride content for 'Overwatch' at this time, we'll continue to create new content and tell stories that reflect LGBTQIA+ experiences across Blizzard's universes."

Fans clap back online

Fans voiced their frustration online. Some said that Blizzard's behavior shouldn't surprise gamers, considering its past. Vocal fans pointed out that although "Overwatch" does include LGBTQIA+ characters, they don't feel as though Blizzard has always represented the queer community in a positive way. Another gamer commented that there are an overwhelming number of toxic players in the "Overwatch" community, and those people probably wouldn't accept Pride-related cosmetics. One fan simply admired Vice's sick burn on Blizzard, which called out the company's continued failure to include a Black woman in its "Overwatch" roster.

Interestingly, one gamer pointed out that Blizzard may have chosen to downplay the rainbow icon so it could claim plausible deniability if censors in Russia or China took offense at the LGBTQIA+-related material. Unlike its competitors, "Valorant" and "Apex Legends," the "Overwatch" team did not officially announce its rainbow icon as being a specific addition to the game in celebration of Pride Month. Many fans took offense at Blizzard's failure to publicly acknowledge Pride Month, arguing that the company tried to slip the rainbow icon in without anyone noticing.

Like the ill-fated Pride celebration in "Runescape," Blizzard's blunder might taint its reputation with the LGBTQIA+ community for the foreseeable future.