Blizzard issued an apology after an official Overwatch Twitch Stream from Blizzard Korea went on camera in blackface makeup while trying to cosplay as the Overwatch hero Doomfist.
Kim "Binbon" Jin-Young is a South Korean Overwatch caster and appeared on an official Blizard Twitch stream for an Overwatch livestream event. A presenter then applied makeup on Kim to make him look like Doomfist, including applying makeup to darken his skin which is considered Blackface.
The practice of Blackface comes from a racist tradition where non-black performers would imitate black people, often with racist stereotypes. While it is considered racist, there are still high-profile cases in the United States of Blackface for racist intent.
"What happened on the official Korean stream was inappropriate and clearly not in keeping with the global spirit of Overwatch," a Blizzard representative said in a statement to Dot Esports. "We apologize for the insensitivity, and we are taking measures to ensure that everyone involved in official broadcasts in the region is better aware of the offensive nature of blackface makeup around the world."
Reaction to the original Korean Overwatch segment was met with widespread criticism online. While some argued that the cultural differences and lack of historical context don't necessarily make Kim's makeup racist, that's not the case. South Korea has a recent history of performing in blackface including instances of it in Saturday Night Live Korea, reality shows, and in K-Pop music videos. Anti-black, anti-immigrant racism is a serious issue in South Korea.
Blizzard recently revealed the 29th hero for Overwatch, Ashe. However, Blizzard has come under fire for not yet including a black female hero in its roster, and Overwatch's female characters have been accused of not differing greatly in terms of appearance.