According to a recent report by Bloomberg, Blizzard has fired around 50 employees related to live-events, including E-Sports, as they begin to focus on digital events in a post-pandemic world.
It stands to reason that Blizzard could shift focus to more digital events, as BlizzConline 2021 saw a substantial number of viewers over the course of the two-day festival. Some announcements and trailers saw over 1 million views, with hundreds of thousands taking part in watching the show live, or associated content live.
A company spokesperson for Blizzard addressed the shift:
“Players are increasingly choosing to connect with our games digitally and the e-sports team, much like traditional sports, entertainment, and broadcasting industries, has had to adapt its business due to the impact the pandemic has had on live events”
Blizzard’s latest World of Warcraft Arena World Championship has seen some substantial viewers this year, only corroborating Blizzards’ view that digital events have been overwhelmingly successful in light of hosting the events live. Blizzard will also provide a minimum of 90 days of severance and health benefits for a year to the employees affected.
Recently a new game company, Dreamhaven, was founded by former Blizzard CEO Mike Morhaime, and is now home to many ex-blizzard employees that left the studio for various reasons (though some of them point to the changes Activision implemented in Blizzard’s internal culture). While these most recent firings were not the employees leaving of their own volition, perhaps they can find solace somewhere else similar to Dreamhaven, where the comradery and feel of “Blizzard Classic” still lives.