Blizzard cancelled an event at Nintendo's New York superstore amid a fan backlash to its Hong Kong controversy


Mei Overwatch Lunar New Year China

  • Blizzard Entertainment cancelled an October 16 event in New York City meant to celebrate the launch of “Overwatch” on the Nintendo Switch.
  • Blizzard recently became the target of boycotts and protests after punishing a professional gamer who spoke out in support of the Hong Kong protests at an official, sponsored event.
  • Voice actors from “Overwatch” were scheduled to appear at the Nintendo Store in New York City’s Rockefeller Plaza for a 90-minute meet-and-greet session.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Blizzard Entertainment has cancelled an October 16 event at the Nintendo New York store in New York City’s Rockefeller Plaza one week after the company sparked an international controversy.

The event was planned to celebrate the launch of Blizzard’s hit first-person shooter “Overwatch” on the Nintendo Switch, but the store said on Twitter that Blizzard chose to cancel the event two days before it was scheduled to take place.

Blizzard has been facing calls for boycotts and protests following the company’s decision to punish “Hearthstone” player Ng Wai Chung, better known as Blitzchung. Blitzchung called for the liberation of Hong Kong during a post-match interview at a Blizzard-sponsored event on October 5.

Read more: Here’s a timeline of Activision Blizzard’s terrible week, as it faces fan protests after an esports athlete was punished for voicing support for Hong Kong

Blizzard initially responded by banning him from competition for one year, and saying that it would no longer work with the two commentators who conducted the interview. Days later, however, it reduced the punishment to a six-month suspension for both Blitzchung and those commentators. 

Fans accused Blizzard of attempting to censor Blitzchung to protect its business interests in China, but the company said the punishment was about distracting attention away from the tournament, rather than the specific viewpoint he voiced. Blizzard said Blitzchung violated the rules of the competition by making political statements, and claimed that the statements damaged the company’s image by offending a portion of the public.

Critics have been less than satisfied with Blizzard’s explanation, and online groups have been using social media to plan and carry out acts of protest against the company. At least one group is planning protests to coincide with Blizzcon, Blizzard’s annual fan convention, scheduled to be held in Anaheim, California on November 1.

The Nintendo Store announced the “Overwatch” launch event the same day that Blizzard announced its punishment of Blitzchung. Responses to the Nintendo Store announcement were filled with messages supporting the Hong Kong protesters and calling for a boycott of Blizzard’s event. Voice actors from “Overwatch” were scheduled to appear at the Nintendo Store for a 90-minute meet and greet session with fans, and fans were required to pre-register for the event.

Blizzard did not respond to a request for comment, and has yet to offer a statement on the event’s cancellation.

SEE ALSO: Blizzard broke its silence to say China didn’t influence its decision to ban a professional gamer from Hong Kong, but fans aren’t buying it

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