Blizzard quietly remove pro-Russian ‘Z’ symbol from Overwatch character

Blizzard has removed the letter ‘Z’ from Overwatch character Zarya’s costume after it became linked with pro-Russian sentiment during the invasion of Ukraine.

Blizzard has had a dreadful period of controversy over the last year, and despite their best efforts, they can’t catch a break. Even when they seemingly aren’t responsible, it appears that trouble, controversy and public condemnation are just around the corner. The latest case of this involves their Overwatch character Zarya.

First things first, Zarya (Aleksandra Zaryanova) is an Overwatch character that before joining the international coalition of heroes, was a Russian soldier. She is a powerful tank character and, before the game’s Anniversary Remix Vol. 1 event, had a prominent ‘Z’ on one of her available costumes.

zarya overwatch russia
Image: Overwatch / Blizzard

Since Overwatch‘s most recent update, Blizzard has removed the now controversial letter, suggesting the embattled video game developer is doing its best to avoid any more negative PR.

In this case, it seems pretty likely that the ‘Z’ on Zarya’s costume relates to her name and not any sort of pro-Russian sentiment. At the end of the day, this Overwatch costume predates Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine by quite some time (although not their invasion of the Crimean Peninsula).

The use of the letter ‘Z’ and how it relates to the Russian invasion of Ukraine isn’t fully understood. Nonetheless, Blizzard has done itself a favour by trying to remove itself from the potential PR nightmare before it gets started.

This isn’t the first time Blizzard has courted controversy and inspired protests due to the cast of Overwatch. Last year, after the full extent of Blizzard’s toxic workplace culture was revealed, various characters were altered to no longer celebrate real-life abusers.

This foresight bodes well for Blizzard’s recovery and future; we hope they use this newfound caution to keep themselves accountable, forthright and honest. Because, at the end of the day, that’s the only Blizzard we are interested in seeing survive.