We play games several hours a day, escaping reality to have fun immersing ourselves into Azeroth, Sanctuary, the Kropulu Sector, the Nexus, the Cow level, or any other universes out there in the Blizzard library of games, or beyond Blizzard.
But if something can do a reality check on us, a pandemic can. The COVID-19 (Coronavirus) has hit our world pretty hard in many fronts. The most important one: life. The loss of family. The loss of friends. The loss of fellow human beings who would have had longer lives otherwise.
We haven’t really or fully embraced this reality check. Some people still go out like nothing is going on: to work, theater, supermarket, restaurant, public transportation, school/college. You name it.
But it is quickly spreading like we are used to seeing in films: Outbreak (1995), Contagion (2011), Carriers (2009), Pandemic (2016), and others.
The COVID-19 is affecting us definitely with anxiety, as well as with our day-to-day routine; and even at the global and local economy level.
In terms of the video gaming industry, it is affecting gaming conventions and other type of conventions as well.
On the gaming side: E3, Nvidia GPU Technology Conference, Facebook F8, Google I/O, GDC, and Mobile World Congress (to name a few) have been cancelled.
Blizzard Entertainment has traditionally announced BlizzCon between March 12 – April 25. Any day between those two dates could be the one for BlizzCon 2020 to be announced.
I don’t know what Blizzard Entertainment will ultimately decide to do.
Maybe there was never a plan to do a BlizzCon 2020. It wouldn’t be the first time a year goes by without a BlizzCon.
But if there were plans… well, it is difficult to extrapolate whether they would go along with the plans or cancel it — taking COVID-19 in deep consideration.
There is a lot of misinformation coming straight from the White House about the severity of this virus. It is not like the flu, as wrongly asserted.
Our science community knows what the flu is, can predict it, in most cases can treat it — with 0.1% to 0.5% chance to cause death.
COVID-19 is a wildcard. Scientist don’t have enough data on it. Over a 1,000 people have died as of now, and so far it has shown a 3.2% mortality rate — which affects people with compromised immune system — mostly the elderly with that problem, but not limited to that age range.
That is 30 times more lethal than the flu.
Because so little is known about this virus, we don’t know if it will survive the Summer or beyond.
What we know is that it rapidly spreads more than the flu. Italy had 1,000 cases by Day 8. Then it tripled by Day 12. According to the CDC, a prototype has been injected to a patient, but after the trial period and other procedures the calculation is — there won’t be a public cure until a year or year-and-a-half.
Sure, most people gets the COVID-19, and eventually their own immune system kicks in and recover. But people with immune system issues — which so far is 3.2% of the global population affected by COVID-19 will die until that cure goes public.
So Blizzard Entertainment will have to seriously research and take a decision very soon — if they had a BlizzCon 2020 in mind.
BLIZZCON 2020 ALTERNATIVES
To have 25,000 people under the same roof, and the whole mobility through hotel lobbies, and transportation — that’s a high chance for the disease to spread — if it survives up to November.
On the other hand, if Blizzard announces BlizzCon 2020 — then cancels — I’m pretty sure fans would be alienated by the cancelling transportation and hotel arrangements. Of course, if some are not given a reimbursement. Depends on individual reimbursement policies. So why risk announcing BlizzCon 2020 in the first place? It is a loss-loss situation.
Would it be too bad for Blizzard to broadcast BlizzCon without the 25,000 fans?
Well, there is a loss of the community feeling and interaction; but the BlizzCon Livestream has been quite popular, too.
Something that I think would be great for a BlizzCon Livestream is to allow players at home with a virtual ticket to play demos at home. Blizzard already did this with the World of Warcraft Classic demo. But wouldn’t it be awesome to be able to play all the demos from home?
How about a quarterly mini-BlizzCon livestream + demo? So that each game has their own spotlight separately.
Personally, I think Blizzard should cancel BlizzCon, just to be safe. The fans are more important, and their loved ones as well when they get back home.
So far we have 2 Senators, and at least 6 Representatives who were exposed to people with the virus. Tom Hanks was diagnosed in Australia. The Canadian minister’s wife tested positive. Heidi Klum (model) who couldn’t get two doctors to test her for Coronavirus. Idris Elba (Heimdall – Thor ). The list keeps growing. The virus doesn’t discriminate financial status.
Last I heard: 134,540 Cases and 4,971 Deaths. Tomorrow it might have doubled or tripled.
United States is not prepared, no matter what the White House says. Watch what was said at CSPAN in Congress by one of the top Immunology scientists. The person who ran the White House pandemic office also posted an Op-Ed in the Washington Post. It is scary. It’s worst than what the U.S. administration tells you.
Wash your hands often. Don’t touch your face. No handshakes. Use gloves if possible and wash them often. If you really want to use masks, the dust ones won’t protect you. Only the ones classified as N95 or N99 protect against viruses.
UPDATE – March 13: Blizzard Entertainment has put in place a work-from-home policy for its employees in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. This could be a sign that the studios might cancel any plans for a BlizzCon 2020, but it is not official. — source
As stated, BlizzCon has been announced in the past years anywhere from March 12 – April 25. We’ll find out soon.
Of course, Blizzard is not obligated to post that the event has been cancelled… because BlizzCon 2020 has not been announced in the first place.
Update: April 5 — I stumbled upon a Blizzard careers opening for a Senior Business Operations Manager (BlizzCon) — source | cache . This job opening has been around as far back as February 2020, but it has been relisted (2 days ago) at Linkedin.
Are there plans to announce BlizzCon 2020? We might find out any day within the range of the next 20 days.
So far there has been 5 applicants for that position — at least in Linkedin; not counting Glassdoor and Jobvite.
UPDATE: April 9 — Blizzard posted a new notice about BlizzCon. Not cancelling it per se, but they are giving it a thought. Source
It has been nigh a month since I originally wrote this article, and things have escalated beyond imagination. This is what the John Hopkins University said today April 11:
“USA surpasses Italy with the most reported deaths of any nation from Covid-19. USA is now reporting at least 18,860 coronavirus deaths, according to a tally by Johns Hopkins. Italy is reporting 18,849 coronavirus deaths.”The Johns Hopkins University is a private research university in Baltimore, Maryland.
Putting that number of deaths in the USA in context… BlizzCon hosts about 25,000 people from all over the world. At least the public gathering version of BlizzCon at the Anaheim Convention Center should be cancelled. Instead, do an online BlizzCon, keeping developers and the fans safe.
No matter what… there won’t be a cure until a year or year and a half according to Dr. Anthony Fauci.
“Anthony Stephen Fauci is an American physician and immunologist who has served as the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases since 1984.”
It is not too early to know if it is feasible. It is not feasible. The correct way to go is to prepare an online BlizzCon starting now. Inform the players of the decision, and prepare them with monthly updates until the online event. Set a BlizzCon livestream ticket pre-order with goodies.
Hello Blizzard community,
A gaming convention is probably the last thing on most people’s minds right now, and that goes for many of us at Blizzard too. As events around the world announce cancellations, postponements, or shifts to an online format in response to COVID-19, we’re seeing questions about our plans for this year’s BlizzCon and we want to provide a quick update.
We love BlizzCon, and we know many of you share that feeling and look forward to it as an opportunity to get away for a while, meet up with friends, and have a good time. As so many of us have been isolated for multiple weeks now, surrounded and in some cases directly impacted by the ongoing pandemic-related challenges around the world, we’re looking forward to the time when we can see one another again in person and have something to celebrate together.
While we’re all hopeful things will look better later in the year, the bottom line is that at this point it’s too early to know whether BlizzCon 2020 will be feasible. The health of our community, employees, and everyone who helps with the show is our top consideration. It might be a few months before we know for certain if or how we’ll proceed, but as soon as we have a meaningful update, we’ll share it.
We do want to mention that prior to the recent events we had been actively working to finalize our plans and in fact are still doing so, despite the workplace changes we’ve now made at Blizzard. That includes considering a range of scenarios and possibilities, not just in terms of the show, but also regarding what the experience would be for you. We know BlizzCon also involves preparation on your part, so we’ll do our best to provide as much clarity as we can, as quickly as we can.
In the meantime, please be good to one another, stay well, and know that we’re holding everyone impacted by COVID-19 in our thoughts.
Fury Warrior, Executive Producer of BlizzCon