A Russian from Overwatch shows a symbol of the invasion of Ukraine

The hero Zarya in Overwatch received some tweaks to her skins. Blizzard hasn’t commented further on this, but it’s obvious why the symbols are now gone: a symbol used by Zarya became a pro-Russian symbol of the war in Ukraine.

What happened to the skins? A new event started in Overwatch on April 5. Fans noted that Blizzard had changed Zarya’s skins. There was previously a “Z” on the skins, which Blizzard has now removed.

We show you at MeinMMO what is the background of this change and how the players react.

Two of Zarya’s skins have been changed.

Why is this happening now? In the new Overwatch Anniversary Remix event, old skins that were particularly popular with players return. On reddit, users were quick to notice that two of these old skins have now been changed in-game. The Russian heroine Zarya (she belonged to the Russian Defense Forces, according to tradition) has a wide range of skins to choose from. Arctic fur and Siberian frontal fur have now been changed – the letter “Z” has been removed from them.

Reddit user Proto_VI shows the differences between the skins. Underneath the fur collar you can see the white Z on the older versions of the fur.

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What’s behind? In Overwatch skins, the letter Z originally stood for Zarya, but in the context of the ongoing Ukraine war, the letter as a whole has gotten a lot of attention:

  • The letter has already been seen on tanks and other military vehicles in recent weeks.
  • The “Z” is considered a symbol of the Russian war of aggression against Ukraine.
  • In Germany, displaying the symbol can be punishable because it can be interpreted as public endorsement of Russia’s war against Ukraine (via Tagesschau.de).
Our experience at MeinMMO is related to gaming. If you want to learn more about the conflict between Russia and Ukraine, we recommend that you get information from official websites or news magazines:

– Ukraine live blog (via Time)
– War in Ukraine (via nzz)
– Solidarity with Ukraine (via Foreign Office)

Important note: If you are tormented by dark thoughts about the current situation: you are not alone. Please get help. For example, with the telephone ministry 0800/111 0 111 or the online ministry, where you can also use a chat. It’s free and applies nationwide.

Blizzard has yet to make a public statement about the skin changes. However, there is a strong belief that Zarya is not intended to be a symbol of the Ukraine invasion and that the change to Zarya is intended to make it clear that he is distancing himself from her.

What does the “Z” stand for? There are several theories as to why a “Z” is used as a symbol:

  • Tagesschau thinks the “Z” stands for “Za Pobedu” – “For Victory” (via tagesschau.de)
  • others think it could mean “zapad” (west).
  • or the “Z” is assumed to be an allusion to the name of Ukrainian President Selenskyj (via dasding.de)

Has this ever happened? An Overwatch character has risen to political prominence before: In South Korea, Overwatch hero D.Va became a symbol of women’s rights in 2017. The heroine’s rabbit became a symbol of protest against misogyny .

In 2021, Blizzard was already making changes to a hero previously known as McCree. After a sexism scandal involving accusations against eponymous employee Jesse McCree, Blizzard clearly wanted to distance itself.

Now the cowboy is called Cole Cassidy and he even has a story that justifies the name change.

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