BlizzCon is coming back as an in-person event in November
As promised at the end of 2022, BlizzCon is coming back. After being derailed since 2019, first by the Covid-19 pandemic and then by the discrimination and sexual harassment scandal that enveloped Activision Blizzard in 2021, Blizzard announced that its big annual convention will return to the Anaheim Convention Center on November 3.
“Our players are at the heart of what makes BlizzCon great—a place where games are the common ground for connection and friendship,” Blizzard said (opens in new tab). “Whether you’re coming to hang out with friends you only ever get to see online, celebrating epic moments in the games we love, exploring what’s on offer in the convention center halls, or eager to learn what’s next for our universes, BlizzCon is being created for you. It’s the community that has always made this event so special, and we can’t wait to see you all again.”
Details on the big return are scant but it sounds like it will be the show we’re familiar with, as Blizzard said more information including details on “ticketing information, cosplay and other competition details” will be revealed in June. BlizzCon events typically include big announcements and developer panels, major esports events like the Hearthstone World Championship and Overwatch World Cup, all kinds of merchandise for sale, and a very big cosplay competition.
BlizzCon, like just about every other major in-person gaming event, was put on hold in 2020 because of the Covid-19 pandemic. In its place, Blizzard held a digital-only event in early 2021, and announced plans for a similar online showcase in early 2022. But in the wake of a July 2021 lawsuit alleging widespread discrimination and sexual harassment (opens in new tab) at the company, which led to the resignation or removal of high-profile employees including former Blizzard president J Allen Brack (opens in new tab), Diablo 4 game director Luis Barriga (opens in new tab) and lead level designer Jesse McCree, and World of Warcraft designer Jonathan LeCraft, Blizzard “paused (opens in new tab)” the event, saying the effort required to make the show happen “is best directed towards supporting our teams and progressing development of our games and experiences.”
The mood of past BlizzCons has wobbled to and fro depending on how fans are feeling about the company’s latest moves. Low points include the 2018 Diablo Immortal announcement (opens in new tab) and the pro-Hong Kong protests (opens in new tab) outside of BlizzCon 2019. This year’s Overwatch festivities may not be especially upbeat—fans are currently reeling from Blizzard’s announcement (opens in new tab) that it’s not going to finish Overwatch 2’s PvE mode as it was announced—but a positive reception to Diablo 4 (opens in new tab) next month could swing things into a happier place. Blizzard could announce the next World of Warcraft expansion, too.
Like previous shows, the 2023 BlizzCon will also be livetreamed: The 2021 “Blizzconline” event was free for all but I would assume that, with a return to an in-person event, access to the 2023 streams (aside from the opening ceremonies, which are traditionally free for all) will require a virtual ticket. Those tickets won’t be on sale for a while yet, but if you want to attend in person, you can book hotel blocks now (opens in new tab).