Blizzard Removes Pro-Russian Army Logo from Zarya Skins

Zarya's Russian background made the symbol's use especially remarkable.
Zarya's Russian background made the symbol's use especially remarkable. / Courtesy of Blizzard

Blizzard has quietly edited two Zarya skins, removing a "Z" symbol that has been co-opted by supporters of Russia's recent invasion of Ukraine.

Zarya's Arctic and Siberian Front skins pull directly from her Russian background, and although the "Z" on each skin's chest was likely a simple Zarya monogram, it has taken on new meaning since Russia's invasion. The symbol doesn't exist in the Cyrillic alphabet, but supporters of the Russian war effort have adopted it as a symbol of Russian victory. The exact genesis of the symbol is unclear, but the Russian Ministry of Defense has said it's an anglicized abbreviation of a Russian phrase that translates to "for victory."

Other interpretations include its standing in for an anglicized spelling of the Russian word for "west," or for other Russian phrases such as "for peace," or "for truth."

Regardless of its origin, the Z has been plastered on Russian uniforms and armored vehicles throughout the invasion.

Blizzard hasn't commented on the removal of the symbol, and this isn't the first time it's had to adjust skins after factors outside Overwatch changed their meaning. The developer removed a Tracer victory pose after fans described is as overly sexualized and has discontinued skins based on Overwatch League MVPs after 2019 winner Jay "sinatraa" Won was accused of sexual assault. (His skin was also for Zarya, funnily enough.)

The studio also changed the name of its cowboy character from McCree to Cole Cassidy when the Blizzard developer who gave him his original name left the company amid accusations of misconduct.