Blizzard has had a rough few weeks thanks in part to their questionable rulings regarding the Blitzchung Decision, but on the day of Blizzcon, their flagship event for all Blizzard products, one more story has dropped that will surely get fans talking negatively once more.
It has been reported that Blizzard is not contributing to their World of Warcraft Esports events, the Arena World Championship and the Mythic Dungeon International. Both events, which will see play at Blizzcon this year, saw Blizzard open up the prizepool by allowing fans to donate through crowdfunding. Competitors and players felt Blizzard had committed 500,000 in their announcement.
The crowdfunding was mostly through the sale of products in the Blizzard Gear Store. A total of $660,000 was raised through crowdfunding, but after hitting the $500,000 mark, Blizzard officially withdrew their contribution.
Many fans assumed Blizzard made the $500,000 a guarantee, regardless of the amount raised through crowdfunding. This has raised the ire of many fans and even Esport competitors, who have begun to voice their displeasure on the decision on social media. Some, such as Adam "Chanimal" Chan of Cloud9, have confirmed this decision by Blizzard via twitter.
Blizzard did not contribute a single cent to the AWC & MDI prize pools this year. They pulled their own ‘base’ contribution of 500k when they realised how well the crowd funding did ($2.64m USD).— Chan (@ChanTV_) October 29, 2019
I wonder how many who bought the toys would have if they had known this. https://t.co/c4hCAIlgQL
"To clarify, I’m not upset about the prize pool being lower than expected." stated Chan in a follow up tweet. "I’m grateful to the community for actually funding this for the players. I’m disappointed Blizzard pulled this off and won’t acknowledge their deception. Trust in Blizzard was already low."
The low trust refers to the Blitzchung decision, where Blizzard originally banned Hong Kong player Chung "Blitzchung" Ng Wai for his pro-democracy stance for a year, along with witholding his winnings for the game Hearthstone. Wai has since responded to the events, and subsequent fan backlash and rumored internal pressure has resulted in his sentence being reduced, and his winnings returned.
It should be noted that Blizzard did not explicitly say that their contribution would be permanent, only that the prizepool would be a guaranteed $500,000 divided among the two events. Technically, this gives Blizzard the wiggle room to remove their contribution since the prizepool was met, as they would be responsible for the overlay themselves, much like a poker tournament guarantee.
This, however, was poorly communicated, and also different from similar crowdfunded prizepools such as DOTA2 and Valve. Valve puts in $1.6 million in the prizepool than builds it up through battle pass and compendium sales, allowing the prizepool to grow beyond the $1.6 million, instead of promising a $1.6 million guarantee.
With this on the heels of the Blitzchung decision, and right before Blizzcon takes place, Blizzard is mired in controversy over their own actions. Hopefully Blizzcon can bring some good news for the developers down the line.
What are your thoughts on all of this? Leave your comments below.