Activision Blizzard is currently facing serious ongoing allegations of harassment and mistreatment of marginalized workers. To learn more, please visit our timeline as well as our in-depth report on the subject.
Blizzard has announced that it will be canceling BlizzConline, initially planned for early next year, while making an effort to reimagine future BlizzCon events to be more “safe, welcoming, and inclusive.”
In a blog post, the company said the decision was fueled by a need to redirect the energy Blizzard would normally spend putting on the event elsewhere, specifically toward “supporting our teams and progressing development of our games and experiences.”
Blizzard still plans to make some announcements for its portfolio of games in February around the time the event would have been held, it just won’t be in the event format used in past years.
Though not explicitly laid out in the blog post, this announcement comes within the context of an ongoing lawsuit filed in early August by the state of California, accusing Activision Blizzard of fostering a “frat boy” culture including sexual harassment, a toxic work environment, and unequal pay between men and women.
Among the accounts detailed in both the lawsuit and in subsequent stories shared from former employees in various reports were stories of inappropriate behavior in and around in-person BlizzCon events over the years, including the infamous “Cosby Suite” story that took place at a hotel during BlizzCon each year.
There was also a BlizzCon panel in which an all-male group of World of Warcraft developers dismissed a question about why so many of the game’s female characters looked like Victoria’s Secret models.
Activision Blizzard Lawsuit Timeline: The Story So Far
BlizzCon moved to an online-only format for its last incarnation due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, and a similar online-only format had been planned for this coming year. With physical events steadily returning, it is not yet clear what the future of BlizzCon in-person events will look like.
“The first BlizzCon was held 16 years ago, and so much has changed in the time since—most notably, the multiple ways in which players and communities can come together and feel like they are a part of something bigger,” reads Blizzard’s post.
“Whatever the event looks like in the future, we also need to ensure that it feels as safe, welcoming, and inclusive as possible. We’re committed to continual communication with our players, and we see BlizzCon playing a big role in that going forward. We’re excited about what we’ll do with the event when we revisit it in the future.”
Rebekah Valentine is a news reporter for IGN. You can find her on Twitter @duckvalentine.