- Activision Blizzard has removed the Z letter from the Arctic and Siberian Front outfits of the Overwatch character Zarya
- The letter recently came to be associated with Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, with some going as far as to call it “zwastika”
- Since Zarya is Russian, Blizzard didn’t want to send out the wrong message and opted to silently remove the letter from the skins
Overwatch players have noted that Activision Blizzard has silently removed the letter Z from Zarya’s outfits, not wanting it to be associated with the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
How Z Became Politically Charged?
Activision Blizzard has quickly patched up what could have become a big misunderstanding. The company introduced minor visual changes to the skins of the Overwatch character Zarya, removing the letter Z from her garments because of real-life politics.
The letter has now become politically charged in the real world because the Russian army continues to use vehicles marked with the letter Z during its invasion of Ukraine. Some claim that letter marks Russia’s western forces, with Z standing for “zapad.” Others say that it stands for “za pobedu” or “for victory.”
The letter has also gained popularity as a nationalist symbol among the Russians who support Vladimir Putin’s war. It has been printed on merchandise bought by young nationalists and has been seen on banners paired with the hashtag “СвоихНеБросарем” – no man left behind.
Blizzard Didn’t Want to Send Out the Wrong Message
Considering that Zarya is Russian, according to Overwatch lore, the developers decided not to risk sending out the wrong message. While her Z signified her name, it could have been interpreted wrongly, which is why Blizzard removed it from her Arctic and Siberian Front skins.
While Activision Blizzard didn’t announce the change in any patch notes, the reasoning behind it couldn’t be more obvious. Despite its past wrongdoings, Blizzard was one of the first companies to halt its operations in Russia and pull back from the country’s market. Additionally, the developer opted to donate $300,000 for humanitarian relief in Ukraine. Activision Blizzard is one of the many companies that have condemned the war and have subsequently withdrawn from Russia. One of the latest firms to follow suit was the tech giant Intel, which announced that it will cease shipping products to Russia but vowed to continue to support its local employees.