Overwatch Mercy
Overwatch developer Blizzard honours deceased fan with a touching in-game tribute Easter eggBlizzard Entertainment

Blizzard Entertainment has paid tribute to a Chinese gamer who died tragically in an accident just one day before the launch of its wildly popular hero-based shooter Overwatch.

According to the Guangdong New Express Daily, 20-year-old Wu Hongyu, saw a classmate's motorcycle being stolen on campus and hopped onto his own bike to try and chase down the thief.

During the chase, Wu collided with the stolen bike and was left severely injured. He died in a hospital shortly after on 23 May, one day before Overwatch was released. The thief was eventually caught and Wu was posthumously honoured with a "Courageous Citizen" award for his act of bravery by the government of Guangzhou.

Reddit user czhihongMercy posted a screenshot of a group chat between the gamer and his friends the day of the accident. "Hey guys, is anyone else really waiting for the launch tomorrow?" Wu asked.

To honour the young hero, Blizzard added the name Hongyu in Chinese to one of the spacesuits in the Overwatch map Lijiang Tower. The developer has also emblazoned the phrase "heroes never die" in Chinese – healing character Mercy's iconic ultimate catchphrase – on the red banner behind the suit as well.

"We added that in remembrance of a brave member of our community," a Blizzard representative told Polygon.

This isn't the first time a game developer has decided to pay tribute to fallen fans and notable celebrities. In March, Star Trek Online developer Cryptic Studios decided to honour legendary Spock actor Leonard Nimoy, who passed away in February, with two in-game statue memorials. Blizzard also created Cay lee Dak, a NPC that resembles the last character of Dak Krause, a World of Warcraft fan who died of leukemia in 2007.

Last month, Legend Of Zelda fans launched two petitions urging developer Nintendo to immortalise Christina Grimmie, the 22-year-old singer who was tragically killed in Orlando, by naming a character in the next Zelda video game after her. Grimmie was an avid Zelda fan herself.

Overwatch is available now for PS4, PC, and Xbox One.