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Blizzard Pushes Back Fanfest Until 2022

While much of California will be reopening on June 15, Blizzard Entertainment in Irvine looked further into the future and decided the time still won’t be ripe to hold its popular BlizzCon fanfest six months from now.

Orange County’s largest software company said last week there won’t be a BlizzCon 2021, marking the second year in a row the in-person event for gaming enthusiasts has been canceled due to COVID-19.

The multiday jamboree is usually held in the fall in Anaheim, and draws tens of thousands to the area.

“Building an in-person BlizzCon is an epic and complex affair that takes many months of preparation—not just for us, but also for the many talented production partners, esports pros, hosts, entertainers, artists, and other collaborators we team up with locally and globally to put all of the pieces together,” BlizzCon executive producer Saralyn Smith said in a blog posting on the company’s website.

She added: “The ongoing complexities and uncertainties of the pandemic have impacted our ability to properly move forward on many of these fronts, and ultimately we’re now past the point where we’d be able to develop the kind of event we’d want to create for you in November.”

Online, In-Person

Blizzard is describing the decision more as a postponement rather than a cancellation. The company said it is planning a global event for the early part of next year, “combining an online show along the lines of our recent BlizzConline with smaller in-person gatherings, and we’ll share more as our plans come together.”

The initial BlizzConline, the online substitute for the annual in-person event, was held in February.

Shares in parent company Activision Blizzard (Nasdaq: ATVI) have been on a tear for the last 12 months, rising about 32% to $96.45 apiece for a market cap of $75 billion as of last week.  

While in-person events were hit during the pandemic, the ranks of gamers increased dramatically since early 2020 with stay-at-home directives.

The decision not to hold the event is a setback for the Anaheim Convention Center, its usual venue.

“BlizzCon has been one of our greatest, most memorable shows. Of course, we looked forward to hosting it again as we recover from the pandemic. But we understand and respect the decision,” Anaheim city spokesman Mike Lyster told the Business Journal.

He added: “BlizzCon is a mid- to large-size show for us and brings people to Anaheim who stay in hotel rooms and spend money while they are here. So, we will miss that.”

Lyster added that Anaheim will continue to move forward with youth sports events and corporate meetings, which have begun to resume in the area, and is working its way back up to larger gatherings in the months to come.

Dreamhaven, Frost Partner

Blizzard alumni, meanwhile, remain very active in the video game development world in OC.

Frost Giant Studios, an independent game development studio founded by Blizzard veterans Tim Morten and Tim Campbell, said it will enter into an advisory partnership with another new game company, Dreamhaven.

Both firms are based in Irvine.

Frost Giant said in a statement in late May it has also inked a licensing deal with Epic Games, creators of Unreal Engine 5, “the world’s most open and advanced real-time 3D creation platform,” to serve as the studio’s game engine.

Dreamhaven, founded by former Blizzard Entertainment President Mike Morhaime and his wife, Amy, said it is also partnering with Lightforge, One More Game and Raid Base in addition to Frost Giant.

“These companies are stacked with talent and experienced teams, and they’re pouring their hearts into making new and exciting games,” Dreamhaven said in a statement on its website. 

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Kevin Costelloe
Kevin Costelloe
Tech reporter at Orange County Business Journal

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