For obvious reasons, this year has been brutal on conventions, fan festivals, and other significant events related to the games industry. Trade shows like E3 and Gamescom adapted (or didn't). Pop culture conventions like San Diego Comic-Con also changed. For gamers, one of the big fan festivals around is BlizzCon, and its cancellation this year owing to the COVID-19 pandemic was unsurprising but still unpleasant.
Blizzard fans, naturally, have been looking forward to next year, wondering if they'll be able to gather in person again. In that respect, the fans are probably going to be disappointed. There will be a BlizzCon next year, but it's going to be entirely virtual. During Activision Blizzard's most recent earnings call, President J. Allen Brack told investors that a virtual BlizzCon would be happening in "the early part" of 2021.
"We're really fortunate to have a passionate and engaged community that's really looking forward to what we're creating," Brack said. "We're looking forward to sharing what the teams have been working on for that event."
While some events could very easily be translated to a virtual format, such as new game announcements and cosplay contests, there are other questions of a logistical nature which will need to be answered. In years past, BlizzCon has been a ticketed event, with tickets selling out incredibly quickly and all too often getting resold by scalpers at a significant markup.
While going virtual could eliminate that problem, it may create other problems. Network bandwidth could conceivably be impacted by going completely virtual, causing players of various Blizzard titles such as World of WarCraft or Diablo III to experience connectivity problems. There's also the potential for "virtual fatigue," with fans being dissatisfied with or possibly hostile to yet another virtual event occurring, even if it is being conducted to ensure their health and safety.
Further details, including the exact dates and layout, will doubtlessly be forthcoming.