BlizzCon 2020 has officially been cancelled due to concerns over the spread of COVID-19.
“Ultimately, after considering our options, we’ve come to the very difficult decision to not have BlizzCon this year,” says Saralyn Smith, Executive Producer of BlizzCon, via a recent blog post. “We’re feeling deeply disappointed about this decision, and imagine many of you will feel the same. I truly love BlizzCon, and I know that’s a sentiment shared by everyone at Blizzard. We will sorely miss connecting with so many of you at the convention and ‘recharging our geek batteries’ this fall.”
Smith goes on to note that Blizzard is thinking of ways to “channel the BlizzCon spirit and connect with you in some way online,” which would seem to indicate that they are looking into hosting a kind of digital event. However, Smith also states that “this is new-ish territory” and that such an event likely wouldn’t happen until “sometime early next year.”
Furthermore Blizzard notes that they are “looking into alternatives for supporting some of the high-level [esports] competition that would normally take place at the show.” Again, though, they don’t seem to have any solid plans in place regarding what such alternatives may look like.
On the one hand, this news is entirely expected. The spread of the coronavirus has led to the cancellation of nearly every major video game convention scheduled for 2019. Even if local and federal governments were to allow such events to take place, the risk of such an event becoming a hotspot for the spread of the virus is too great for many organizers to even think of considering.
What’s especially interesting about this event, though, is the timing. With BlizzCon not anticipated to begin until November, this paints a grim portrait for our expectations to be able to participate in such large gatherings by even the end of the year. Of course, even if such events are legally possible, the complications associated with trying to organize such a large event at this time are likely too great to try to manage at this time.
So where does this leave Blizzard? Well, we fully expect that they will share updates for potential 2020 projects such as Overwatch 2 or World of Warcraft: Shadowlands via some other venue than BlizzCon. The same goes for projects like Diablo Immortal and the rumored Diablo 2 remaster and service titles like Hearthstone.
As for further off projects like Diablo 4 and anything new Blizzard may be working on, it’s likely those updates and reveals will be delayed until next year’s BlizzCon or some kind of 2021 digital BlizzCon replacement.