This weekend is Blizzcon, Activision-Blizzard’s annual event, where they showcase new Blizzard content, games, and events. This years big showcase is Overwatch 2, World of Warcraft Shadowland expansion and Diablo 4. While Diablo 4 was an anticipated title, fans were surprised about the leak becoming true that Blizzard would release Overwatch 2. Overwatch 2isn’t an actual sequel to the team based shooter but rather an expansion which includes more story elements and PvE rather than PvP.
Despite fan excitement, neither titles have a launch date. This is pretty disappointing to fans but the games look like they have are based the Alpha stages. Some people online are speculating that Blizzard announced the two titles without release dates to earn good press after the recent controversies facing the company.
During a professional Hearthstone player interview, a player wore clothes similar to protesters at Hong Kong. Ng “Blitzchung” Wai Chung said at the end of his interview “Liberate Hong Kong. Revolution of our age!” The stream then quickly cuts to a commercial break. This resulted in the player receiving a year long ban from playing competitively, revoking his winnings from the tournament, and firing the two interviewers.
Blizzard stated cited a competition rule which states that players aren’t allowed to do anything that “brings [them] into public disrepute, offends a portion or group of the public, or otherwise damages [Blizzard’s] image. At Blizzcon, the President J. Allen Brack stated that “We moved too quickly in our decision-making and then, to make matters worse, we were too slow to talk with all of you,” said Brack. “We didn’t live up to the high standards we set for ourselves.
Blizzard has reduced his penalty to six months but fans were still outraged over the company’s decision. They felt that China’s influence made the company ban Blitzchung. There are several protesters at Blizzcon who support Blizchung’s opinion. With Overwatch 2 and Diablo 4 coming out eventually, many Blizzard fans seem to have forgotten the issue and focusing on the company’s future titles. Whether intentional or not, Blizzard has dramatically reduced the spotlight on the Hong Kong issue and has moved it towards their new games. Whether people will still speak out against Blizzard remains to be seen.
People are trying to bring esports and professional gaming to a worldwide audience as it’s becoming more popular. People and or teams are competing all around the world and are representing their sponsors similar to physical sports teams. Some teams represent their countries similar to the Olympics such as the Asian Games. Earlier this year, gaming companies such as Riot, Blizzard, Epic, and the ESL, met with the Olympic Forums to discuss potentially having esports as an Olympic competition. The hopes would be the “government to help recognize esports as its own discipline” according to the CEO of Riot Games, Nicolo Laurent. Unfortunately, the Olympics will not allow any video games to be an Olympic event that has “killing” according to International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach.
Why did the Olympics deny video games from the Olympics?
While Esports may be in the Olympics in the future, Bach strongly stated “We cannot have in the Olympic program a game which is promoting violence or discrimination…They, from our point of view, are contradictory to the Olympic values and cannot therefore be accepted.” While people rebutted by stating some Olympic games involved dangerous weapons such as fencing, Bach said: “sport is the civilized expression about this.” Any games involved with “killing” for points/score will likely be denied by the Olympics in the near future. This would prevent popular esports titles from being an Olympic game such as Fortnite, Overwatch, League of Legends, and PUBG.
What are the pros for having esports in the Olympics?
If esports was legitimized by the Olympics, it would benefit the players. Players would able to receive their Visas more easily to travel internationally for tournaments. Many players and team owners must pay for the visas. This can lead to potential delays that may prevent the players from competing. It would also give teams and players more sponsors for financial support. It can also lead to more television broadcasting opportunities for video games. Below are the hours viewed on Twitch and YouTube. If channels begin streaming video games, it could lead to people actually watch tv.
How do you feel about video games not allowed in the Olympics?
Blizzard(World of Warcraft, Overwatch, Heores of the Storm) and 2K (Borderlands, Mafia, NBA 2K series) has removed the micro-transactions portions from their games: Overwatch, Heroes of the Storm, and NBA 2K18. This is to comply with Belgium and Netherlands’ gambling laws. The countries considers loot box as gambling. 2K’s and Blizzard’s official statement are below.
TL;DR: In Belgium, players can’t purchase MyTeam packs (read: loot boxes) with real money, though they can still be acquired by earning currency in-game. in Netherlands, players will not be able to access Auction House, a feature that allows you to buy and sell your players. (Eurogamer.net) For Blizzard, players can no longer use real money for loot boxes in Overwatch and HoTS.
If you read the statement, 2K and Blizzard disagrees with the banning and believes they are following the law with their initial practices. They actively asked their players to contact the local government to allow their loot box system.
The loot box system is a disgusting and frustrating way to extract more money from players. While more people are growing aware of the unfair practice, there are still many players purchasing loot boxes. Last year, Blizzard earned over $3 billion USD from loot box sales. Often, gaming companies state that loot boxes are to make back the expenses from development.