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Blizzard may have canceled a ‘World of Warcraft’ mobile spinoff (updated)

Arclight Rumble wasn’t going to be the only upcoming Warcraft mobile game, according to a report. Bloomberg sources claim Blizzard and NetEase have canceled a World of Warcraft spinoff mobile title that had been in development for three years. Nicknamed Neptune, it would have been a massively multiplayer game set in a different era of the fantasy universe. It wouldn’t simply have been a WoW phone port, to put it another way.

While the exact reasons for the cancelation weren’t mentioned, one of the insiders said Blizzard and NetEase “disagreed over terms” and ultimately decided to scrap the unannounced game. NetEase supposedly had over 100 developers attached to the project. The two were rumored to have previously canceled another Warcraft mobile release, a Pokémon Go-style augmented reality game, after four years of effort.

Spokespeople from both companies declined to comment. If the rumor is accurate, it suggests Blizzard is struggling to adapt to the rise of mobile gaming. While Diablo Immortal appears to be a success and is joining the well-established Hearthstone, the developers will still have sunk massive resources into other games that never reached players.

There are strong incentives to take these risks, however. Mobile games can be highly lucrative, particularly in countries like China — Genshin Impact has pulled in $3 billion since release, according to Sensor Tower estimates. A hit could easily boost Blizzard’s bottom line, not to mention spur demand for its existing computer- and console-bound games.

Update 8/5 9:49AM ET: Spokesperson Andrew Reynolds told Engadget that Blizzard still has an “extremely successful relationship” with NetEase, and said it was “entirely untrue” that there were any financial disagreements between the two companies. There was no mention of the spinoff or its current status.

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BlizzCon 2022 canceled as Blizzard looks to ‘reimagine’ event

During the COVID-19 pandemic, Blizzard moved its annual event, BlizzCon, online. The resulting show was dubbed BlizzConline, and it was one that Blizzard planned to host again early next year. Unfortunately, it looks like that’s not happening as planned, as Blizzard has canceled BlizzConline 2022.

In a statement published on its website today, Blizzard announced BlizzConline will no longer happen in February as originally planned. The company says that the decision to “step back and pause planning” on the event was a tough one, but that the energy which would have gone into creating the event is best spent supporting its various teams and progressing development on its games.

Blizzard then said that a lot has changed since the first BlizzCon was hosted 16 years ago and that when BlizzCon returns in the future, it wants the show to be inclusive and accommodating. “Whatever the event looks like in the future, we also need to ensure that it feels as safe, welcoming, and inclusive as possible,” Blizzard said. “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.”

While BlizzConline may not be happening, Blizzard says that it will still announce new updates for its games. Presumably, this will happen in a more spread-out fashion once we’re into the new year, but Blizzard doesn’t say when it plans to share these updates.

Blizzard currently finds itself at the center of a sexual harassment and abuse scandal that has seen several high-level employees and executives depart the company. Blizzard alluded to that scandal in its statement today, so it’s safe to say that it influenced the decision to cancel BlizzConline. We’ll let you know when a new date for BlizzCon is announced, but considering that BlizzConline wasn’t slated to happen until February 2022, we might be waiting some time yet.

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BlizzConline 2022 Canceled Amid Ongoing Controversy

BlizzConline 2022, which had been made to replace BlizzCon 2021, has been canceled. The event, a hybrid showcase that would combine features of online-only and in-person events, would have featured “smaller in-person gatherings.”

According to a post on Blizzard’s website not attributed to any author, the hybrid event was canceled because the company thought its energy would best be spent on other endeavors. “At this time,” reads the post, “we feel the energy it would take to put on a show like this is best directed towards supporting our teams and progressing [the] development of our games and experiences.” While it’s not clear how many games Blizzard currently has in development, the studio has been working on and constantly providing fans with updates about Overwatch 2.

However, the company is also dealing with other external issues at the moment that could have prompted this event’s cancelation. Blizzard’s parent company, Activision Blizzard, is currently embroiled in a lawsuit regarding its internal culture. The suit, filed by the State of California Department of Fair Employment and Housing, alleges that the company fostered a “frat boy” culture in which women were regularly harassed and pay discrimination based on gender and race was systemic, naming multiple executives at Blizzard. Blizzard president J. Allen Brack stepped down from his position amidst the lawsuit.

The publisher recently sought to have the lawsuit paused, claiming that there were ethics violations. However, a judge rejected that request.

Blizzard’s post announcing BlizzConline 2022’s cancelation also touched on the future of the event. While it’s not clear what format the event will take on, the company states, “Whatever the event looks like in the future, we also need to ensure that it feels as safe, welcoming, and inclusive as possible.”

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This Year’s Blizzcon Is Canceled, it Will Return in 2022

BlizzCon 2021 has been canceled, according to an announcement from BlizzCon’s executive producer Saralyn Smith via the BlizzCon site. The company plans to pick things back up early next year with a global event that will combine its recent online event, BlizzConline, with “smaller in-person gatherings.”

Smith said the COVID-19 pandemic and California’s changing safety guidelines are the reasons behind the sudden cancellation. Blizzard says that those issues left Blizzard and its partners uncertain that they would be able to put on an event on the level that fans expect by November.

This isn’t the first hit that the company has taken as of late. With the recent departure of Overwatch director, Jeff Kaplan and Overwatch lead character artist Renaud Galand, uncertainty seems to be the keyword for the company lately.

While Overwatch 2 is apparently on the horizon — Blizzard even released more information about the game just days ago — the string of bad news has left fans wondering what the future of the company looks like. IGN recently published a report about the state of the company, which outlines a list of pain points the company has endured over the past few years.

There may be even more information on the way for Overwatch and Diablo fans despite this cancellation, with the early 2022 show being confirmed via the same post by Smith. We expect more details on this online-physical hybrid event later this year.

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PAX East canceled once again, but there’s still some good news

Even though it certainly feels like there’s a light at the end of the tunnel, the COVID-19 pandemic isn’t over yet. One area that’s very evident is in the world of expos and trade shows, which continue to cancel in-person events and replace them with online events. PAX East is the latest in-person expo to be cancelled, but fans who were looking forward to attending the show will have another iteration of PAX Online to look forward to.

PAX East was originally slated to happen from June 3rd to June 6th, 2021 in Boston, Massachusetts. In an update published to the PAX website today, Penny Arcade and ReedPop revealed that the show won’t be happening because of the ongoing pandemic, but they are both “cautiously optimistic” that they’ll be able to host PAX West and PAX Unplugged as in-person events in September and December, respectively.

In place of PAX East, we’ll get another installment of PAX Online, which will run from July 15th to the 18th this year. “We hope to build on the success of last year’s record-breaking event and also engage with our community in new ways, such as the Indie Showcase that will take place between now and PAX Online,” ReedPop and Penny Arcade announced. “Expect to hear more about these exciting plans soon.”

Luckily, it sounds like the decision to hold off on an in-person PAX East was made easier by the fact that ReedPop and Penny Arcade didn’t sell tickets to would-be attendees or booth spaces to exhibitors. “We will only move forward with a live PAX once we are confident the show will be safe for everyone,” the two companies added.

So, no PAX East this year, but with the vaccine rollout seemingly going well here in the United States, this is hopefully the last in-person PAX event that will be cancelled before the actual events can resume. We’ll let you know more when Penny Arcade and ReedPop reveal new details, so stay tuned.

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