Blizzard Entertainment is one of the biggest names in the video game industry. This gaming company brought us one of the most iconic titles in the history of gaming – the Warcraft series, Diablo series, Overwatch, etc. However, in the past few years, the company has been embroiled in one controversy after another.
Although its legacy is still there, we are slowly witnessing the fall of a once-great empire that amassed millions of players worldwide. Let’s take a quick look at some of the controversies that triggered the fall of this once highly acclaimed gaming company.
The Mortality of Diablo
Blizzard Entertainment was once considered as the biggest and most respected gaming company on the planet. They helped define Real-Time Strategy (RTS) and Action Role-Playing Game (ARPG) genres in video games. And speaking of RTS, one of the most brilliant titles ever produced in this genre is the Diablo franchise.
For those who are living under a rock, Diablo is a franchise born from the 1997 game of the same name. During its time, Diablo became the highest-selling computer title in the first six months of 1997 (United States). Like most successful titles, Diablo evolved to become an instant classic in the gaming community.
Every development of a new installment was met with much excitement and anticipation. This is due to the fact that its sequels come years apart from each other. That’s Diablo II in 2000, Diablo III in 2012, Diablo III in 2014, and Diablo III in 2017. Fans don’t really mind the gap. In fact, it’s one of the reasons why the franchise maintains interest and excitement.
Fast forward to Blizzcon 2018. Amidst the roaring crowd and years of anticipation, the gaming community is now ready for the new Diablo. However, Diablo: Immortal was not what fans expected it to be. Announcing a mobile game in a hall packed with thousands of PC players is definitely a disaster waiting to happen.
And a disaster it was! For the first time in history, Blizzard managed to single-handedly disappoint its community in an event that they paid for.
The Blitzchung Controversy
Just a year after the Diablo: Immortal controversy, Blizzard has once again entered the limelight by punishing one of its own. The issue involves Ng Wai Chung, also known as Blitzchung － a Hong Kong-based eSports player of the game, Hearthstone.
On October 6, 2019, Chung showed his support for the 2019 Hong Kong protests. Like many Hong Kong residents, he wore a gas mask, expressing their call to “Liberate Hong Kong.”
Blizzard later announced that Blitzchung is officially banned from their current tournament. Plus it would forfeit any prize money (approximately worth $4,000 at that point). The company also banned him from other Grandmaster tournaments for one year. As expected, Blizzard was once again called-out by its community, employees, and even prominent US officials.
In a Verge article, Senator Won Ryden says that “Blizzard shows it is willing to humiliate itself to please the Chinese Communist Party.” No American company should censor calls for freedom to make a quick buck.” Blizzard eventually reduced Blitzchung’s Grandmaster ban from one year to six months and reinstated his winnings. But needless to say, the damage has been done.
Blizzard Entertainment: The Downward Spiral
Within almost three decades, Blizzard evolved from being the humble Silicon & Synapse, Inc. into a subsidiary of one of the largest third-party video game publishers in the word – Activision.
Over the years, the company produced some of the biggest titles in the modern gaming industry and eSports. Among those are the Diablo series, Hearthstone, Heroes of the Storm, Overwatch, StarCraft series, and the Warcraft series.
Despite controversies, it remains as one of the leading video game developers and publishers in the industry. However, the receipts borne from its bad decision-making are slowly piling up.
Like a collapsing empire, Blizzard is currently in a fragile state right now. This is due to balance issues plaguing the Overwatch community, Battle.net issues, and the Warcraft 3: Reforged mess. It may not be too late yet. With iconic game titles under its name, Blizzard can still redeem itself.