Following the pro-Hong Kong protest statements from professional Hearthstone player Chung “Blitzchung” Ng Wai and Blizzard Entertainment’s suspension of the player, players began their own protests. This included attempting to make Chinese Overwatch character Mei a symbol of the Hong Kong protests. Since then, a Mei-themed piece of merchandise had vanished from Blizzard’s official store.
Users on social media began to notice an 11-inch tall statue of Mei was no longer present on the store. The statue was originally on sale for $175, and was scheduled for delivery “before end of Q4 2019.”
While the original link was archived, attempts to follow the link at the time redirected to the font page of the Blizzard Gear Store. A tweet from the official Overwatch advertising the statue is still up (as of this time of writing), and using search engines you could still find the URL to the listing.
Items that are out of stock are listed as such on the item’s listing (Showing “In Stock,” “Almost Gone!”, or “Out of Stock”). Blizzard’s support page regarding items being out of stock also shows no indication Out of Stock items are removed.
Others had shown concern other items had been removed. However, after investigation this appears to be a difference between regions. In the UK (as of October 14th) four Mei themed items were available for sale- a Mei Nendoroid figure, a Mei Funko Pop figure, a Mei-themed laplander hat, and a Mei-themed hoodie.
In the US more items are available. These include a Mei Pachimari Character Plush, a Mei Pachimeri pin, a Mei-themed men’s t-shirt, and a Mei-themed women’s muscle roll sleeve t-shirt. Some users also could not see the Mei Nendoroid figure depending on region.
Our investigation used both US and UK-based staff members to use the Blizzard Gear Store and search for “Mei”. US users get the slightly larger latter items, while the UK gets the smaller former selection.
Confusion seems to have spread thanks to it not being readily apparent via screenshots where the individual who took the screenshot is based. Likewise, if a US user follows a link to the UK store, they are seemingly not redirected to the US store in some instances (and vice versa).
Nonetheless, neither store listed the Mei statue. While some had speculated the removal of the statue is some attempt to prevent more attempts of making Mei a symbol of the Hong Kong protests, other merchandise remains. It also stands to reason that some may use cheaper the Mei merchandise, if they wished to modify it akin to the artwork from the “Mei Stands with Hong Kong” campaign.
The statue may have been removed for other reasons; such as the aforementioned scheduled for delivery date of “before end of Q4 2019.” This may mean the statue was always intended to not be sold after Q4 2019. The lack of any reports of individuals not receiving the statue may indicate the latter.
We reached out to Blizzard for comment on October 14th. However, on October 17th the statue seemingly returned, at least for US users. No explanation was given as to why the statue was taken down, or why it has now returned. Nonetheless, you can find it here.
In earlier news, Blizzard released a statement on the controversy, claiming that the company’s relationship with China was not a contributing factor.