A recent report from IGN has shed additional insight into the string of high profile departures from Blizzard over recent years. The report points to a feeling of decline, layoff, and lack of major releases.
The report begins with Jeff Kaplan’s departure which we reported on at the time. The report points to Overwatch which helped boost morale during launch after Project Titan failed to take off. IGN’s source noted,
“You almost feel like you're really not broken anymore in a certain sense. It's always amazing to ship a project that people love. But to do it right after Titan, I think that made it even more special.”
The report discussed how Blizzard was a great place to work with various bonuses, holiday parties, the gifts for those who worked with the company for five and ten years, and more. It also pointed to Chris Metzen’s departure, and Morhaime’s subsequent departure in 2018. This then opened the door for current President, J. Allen Brack.
The story turns to Blizzard’s shuttering of Heroes of the Storm and their tournament. In 2019, Blizzard laid off more than 800 employees. This was just the first of many events for the World of Warcraft developer. Later that same year, the infamous Blitzchung Hearthstone controversy took center stage and dominated BlizzCon. In fact, Brack took to the stage and addressed the controversy without providing actionable solutions.
Then came the release of Warcraft 3 Reforged which was missing several features touted up to and including its release. It turns out the development was troubled and a bit of scramble, pulling developers off of other projects to crunch.
The report points to a perceived growth of Activision’s influence within Blizzard as well,
“Then there’s the schism with Activision’s corporate side, which has left some within Blizzard feeling powerless and out of control of their own destiny. In March, Activision Blizzard’s announced that it was hiring Brian Bulatao as its Chief Administrative Officer. In an internal memo sent to Activision Blizzard employees that was obtained by IGN, Activision CEO Bobby Kotick praised Bulatao for his experience in government and his military service, saying he represented Activision Blizzard’s commitment to hiring veterans. But conversations on Blizzard’s internal Slack channel and elsewhere reveal that Bulatao’s hiring generated considerable controversy, as employees questioned the wisdom of hiring a former Trump administration official once described as a bully.”
This resulted in employees wondering how such a hire lined up with Blizzard’s own values. It sounds likle the one thing Blizzard employees are pinning their hopes on is new releases. This means Overwatch 2 and Diablo 4. According to IGN’s source,
“It feels like the company is just bleeding and taking punches, and realistically, the only thing that is gonna stop that is shipping Diablo 4 or Overwatch 2.”
The full report is worth reading and provides some pretty incredible insight into a company once lauded by PC gamers as true greats. Check out the full article on IGN.