Blizzard’s now not too prolonged within the past publicized sexual harassment and discrimination lawsuit filed by the deliver of California is ultimate the most trendy in a prolonged string of controversies. Between huge layoffs, tons of reports on its toxic workplace, and highly anticipated launches reportedly sabotaged by mismanagement, the old couple of years contain dramatically altered the perception of what worn to be PC gaming’s darling developer.
This timeline covers Blizzard’s most principal controversies and high-profile departures since 2018. These events wait on paint a colossal image of Blizzard’s most trendy turmoil in some unspecified time in the future of the last few years and might perhaps furthermore give some precious context in its altering company culture and the most trendy allegations towards it.
WoW gamers are pissed about Battle for Azeroth
The first half of 2018 used to be barely serene for Blizzard, however quickly after Battle for Azeroth launched in August, World of Warcraft gamers were up in palms. Early in its beta, gamers started complaining about fresh programs care for Azerite Armor being too complex and unrewarding, however it gave the influence care for Blizzard wasn’t making any distinct adjustments per that feedback. Gamers were upset by the non-existent dialog from the approach team about prolonged standing points. By September, things were so spoiled that sport director Ion Hazzikostas issued an apology to the neighborhood and promised to be extra communicative and repair Battle for Azeroth’s many complications.
Mike Morhaime steps down after 27 years
Morhaime had been with Blizzard since he co-basically based the studio in 1991. Changing him as president used to be J. Allen Brack, who had previously served as World of Warcraft’s executive producer.
Diablo Immortal’s shock announcement outrages followers
There used to be tons of rigidity on Blizzard to wow audiences at BlizzCon 2018. World of Warcraft followers were serene upset about the deliver of Battle for Azeroth, and its developers rolled out an formidable roadmap of updates in an strive to ultimate its direction. Nonetheless because the keynote presentation came to a shut, gamers belief they were about to search out the reward of the worthy-anticipated Diablo 4. Nonetheless as quickly as necessary clothier Wyatt Cheng talked about “cell,” you can feel the pleasure evaporate.
It used to be an infinite misstep to space the Diablo Immortal reward because the huge finale to BlizzCon. Gamers who had been eagerly looking ahead to a lawful Diablo PC sport felt tricked. It gave the influence care for Blizzard used to be extra in chasing traits in desire to giving its viewers what it wanted. Issues handiest obtained worse when Cheng later requested a booing viewers “What, construct you guys now not contain phones?” after clarifying that Immortal would now not free up on PC. That would later change into an infinite meme wielded by bitter followers.
Blizzard kills Heroes of the Storm’s pro scene
Within the month following BlizzCon 2018, things were starting up to aloof down except December 14 when Blizzard supplied that it used to be trimming Heroes of the Storm’s constructing team and outright killing its esports league ultimate sooner than its 2019 season. Without a prior warning, whole teams, commentators, and relieve workers were all without lengthen left jobless.
Though it wasn’t stunning that Heroes of the Storm used to be underperforming, followers and professionals were infuriated that Blizzard would wait so dull within the year to interrupt the news. Even worse, teams and insiders weren’t even given approach discover about—they realized out that their Heroes of the Storm careers were over on the identical time as all individuals else.
Beneath: A tweet from worn Tempo Storm head coach lamenting Blizzard cancelling its HotS esports league.
Right here’s such bullshit and I’m so upset for all individuals who has ever set a minute into this scene.https://t.co/oTPo7qNUuqDecember 14, 2018
Frail Blizzard employee says HR did nothing to close racist bullying
In early January, worn Blizzard employee Julian Murillo-Cuellar posted a prolonged observation on Twitter detailing the bullying and discrimination he confronted whereas working on the Hearthstone esports team starting up in 2016. Murillo-Cuellar alleged that one more employee over and over made racist feedback and pressured him, and any makes an are attempting to resolve the topic with HR and management were largely omitted. Murillo-Cuellar also claimed that he used to be retaliated towards for talking out and even purchased adverse performance reports that described him as “now not a team participant” and “complex to work with.” Quickly later, Murillo-Cuellar says he started tormented by apprehension assaults and predominant unhappy and used to be positioned on clinical dart away in 2017. When he used to be later positioned on unpaid dart away in 2018, Murillo-Cuellar handed in his resignation.
Following the controversy, Blizzard issued a observation that did not particularly suppose on Murillo-Cuellar’s accusations however reiterated its dedication to “inclusive and respectful work ambiance.”
Activision Blizzard lays off over 800 employees
Activision Blizzard space monetary records in 2018. Despite this, CEO Bobby Kotick supplied in a February 2019 earnings call that his firm might perhaps perhaps be laying off around 8% of its employees. This amounted to an estimated 800 folk all the plan by Activision, Blizzard, and King dropping their jobs.
The disagreement of important layoffs towards a backdrop of file monetary performance drew normal condemnation from all corners of the industry. In a Kotaku document, employees expressed outrage at Kotick’s feedback and the chaotic nature of the layoffs—which were reportedly worthy extra wide than any individual used to be anticipating. Departments care for IT and esports were reportedly “gutted,” whereas core constructing teams were largely untouched.
Over the next year, Activision Blizzard sparked worthy extra criticism when it started rehiring for many of the roles which it had before the entirety slash, culminating in a 2020 announcement that it serene needed to rent 2,000 employees to fulfill fresh demands.
Frank Pearce steps down
In July, one more Blizzard co-founder supplied he used to be leaving the firm after 28 years. Though one among the much less viewed faces of Blizzard, Pearce led constructing on Warcraft 3 and used to be an executive producer on WoW’s Burning Campaign, Wrath of the Lich King, Cataclysm, and Mists of Pandaria expansions.
Blizzard bans Hearthstone pro over “liberate Hong Kong” message
Blizzard created world outrage when it suspended Chung “Blitzchung” Ng Wai for calling for Hong Kong’s liberation from the Chinese authorities in some unspecified time in the future of a post-match interview on the Asia Pacific Hearthstone Grandmasters match. At the time, Hong Kong used to be enveloped in chaos as hundreds of hundreds of protestors fought towards an extradition bill that would allow for the switch of criminals to mainland China. Blitzchung used to be before the entirety suspended for a year and stripped of his prize winnings. The two Taiwanese casters who were trace in some unspecified time in the future of the interview were also fired.
Though Blitzchung did spoil one among the foundations of the match, Blizzard’s resolution to suspend him drew normal condemnation and grew to change into a national news tale. Workers staged a stroll-out in recount of the resolution whereas outraged gamers organized boycotts all the plan by all of Blizzard’s games. Main Hearthstone casters resigned, sponsors care for Mitsubishi pulled their relieve from future events, and American politicians penned a bi-partisan letter condemning Blizzard’s actions. Subsequent Hearthstone tournaments stopped conducting participant interviews or using webcams to trace gamers after teams held up signs supporting Hong Kong and Blitzchung, whereas human rights advocacy groups known as on Blizzard to overturn the suspension.
Many wondered if Blizzard’s resolution used to be motivated by a desire to preserve within the factual graces of the Chinese authorities. Over time, China had change into an infinite section of Blizzard’s industry, however authorities regulations are notoriously fickle, and tons accused Blizzard of silencing free speech in repeat to offer protection to its industry pursuits.
Free speech protests decide over BlizzCon 2019
Tensions and outrage over Blitzchung’s ban grew in severity for weeks sooner than spilling over into BlizzCon 2019. Long sooner than the doors opened to the Anaheim Convention Heart, hundreds had gathered exterior in recount.
Neutral sooner than the keynote presentation started, Blizzard president J. Allen Brack took the stage to direct regret for how Blizzard reacted. Brack before the entirety did not specify whether Blizzard would undo its suspension, however in a PC Gamer interview later that day on the match Brack confirmed that Blizzard might perhaps perhaps be cutting back Blitzchung’s ban to ultimate six months. The two Taiwanese casters would serene be fired, nonetheless. Brack denied claims that Blizzard’s resolution used to be influenced by its Chinese publishing companion NetEase.
Warcraft 3: Reforged is a catastrophe
First supplied in some unspecified time in the future of BlizzCon 2018, Warcraft 3: Reforged used to be an formidable remaster that would replace the normal 2002 real-time strategy sport with HD graphics, re-recorded cutscenes, as well as an upgraded individual interface and world editor. Nonetheless when it by some means launched in January of 2020, Reforged had failed to bring on many of its promises.
Maps looked significantly worse than the 2018 reward, the re-recorded pronounce overs were scraped entirely, and—most upsetting of all—aspects that had been trace in Warcraft 3 for an extended time, care for clans and offline play, were lacking. The fresh EULA also gave Blizzard fat ownership of any mods that were made in Reforged, which greatly upset Warcraft 3’s modding neighborhood. And resulting from Warcraft 3: Reforged effectively changed Warcraft 3 entirely, there used to be no attain to return and play the normal without shopping for a bodily copy.
Gamers were incensed. The outrage grew so huge that Brack by some means addressed it a number of weeks later and apologized for how completely Blizzard omitted the trace and promised that it would preserve working to toughen the sport. A Bloomberg document released in 2021 claims that worthy of Warcraft 3: Reforged’s failings were due to mismanagement and Activision aggressively cutting its budget dull in constructing, forcing the team to abandon aspects entirely.
Hearthstone pro claims he’s been blacklisted by Blizzard after his wife used to be laid off
In June of 2020, a trendy Hearthstone participant named Savjz claimed he had been blacklisted from competing in legit tournaments resulting from his wife, Christina Mikkonen, used to be one among the 800 employees laid off in 2019 and had publicly criticized Blizzard a number of times on social media. Per Mikkonen, Savjz used to be blacklisted after she criticized a neighborhood supervisor on Twitter for selling a job opening back in July.
Blizzard answered to the accusations by clarifying that Savjz used to be now not blacklisted however hadn’t been invited resulting from he did not agree to a “demand for confidentiality” about files relating to the match. Savjz claimed Blizzard did not desire him sharing files with Mikkonen, which he refused. Blizzard ultimately apologized to Savjz and the two reached an settlement the build he might perhaps perhaps participate in future events.
Alex Afrasiabi quietly leaves Blizzard
As one among the ideal faces on World of Warcraft’s constructing team, Alex Afrasiabi’s surprising departure from Blizzard in June used to be before the entirety a thriller. He had served as inventive director for a desire of years and had reportedly led constructing on Titan, Blizzard’s cancelled MMO. Blizzard made no observation about his departure, with gamers handiest noticing it after Afrasiabi updated his LinkedIn page to verify he used to be now now not with the firm.
Afrasiabi is one among the few folk without lengthen named within the sexual harassment and discrimination lawsuit towards Activision Blizzard, which alleges he over and over groped and pressured girls folks employees. An Activision Blizzard spokesperson confirmed to Kotaku in July 2021 that Afrasiabi had been terminated “for his misconduct in his treatment of different employees.”
In August of closing year, Bloomberg reported that Blizzard employees were anonymously sharing their salaries after discovering mountainous wage disparities. Per sources that spoke to Bloomberg, an within firm look printed that many employees were unhappy with their pay—especially unlike how worthy Activision Blizzard executives care for Kotick rep. To point out for better pay, employees created a spreadsheet and began documenting their wage and most trendy pay increases.
Activision Blizzard hires controversial Trump and Bush-abilities authorities officials
Activision Blizzard raised eyebrows earlier this year when it employed Frances Townsend, who had served as a hometown security advisor to president George W. Bush the build she grew to change into one among the ideal political faces in America’s War on Dread. Townsend also served as a national security analyst for assorted news organizations, and has also been criticized for defending acts of torture care for waterboarding and sleep deprivation. Townsend would support as Activision Blizzard’s chief compliance officer, working to rep distinct its games did not bustle afoul of authorities regulators in international countries.
A number of weeks later, Activision Blizzard also appointed Brian Bulatao, a worn Trump administrator, as chief administration officer. As Kotaku reported, Bulatao grew to change into the topic of public scrutiny after a probe into Trump’s firing of an impartial watchdog within the Speak Division. In testimony in some unspecified time in the future of a probe into his firing, that watchdog claimed he used to be fired without trigger and Bulatao “tried to bully” him on a number of events when investigating the Trump administration.
Jeff Kaplan quits Blizzard
In April, Overwatch lead clothier and Blizzard vp Jeff Kaplan supplied he used to be leaving the firm after 19 years. The announcement used to be stunning, as Kaplan had change into the face of Overwatch and used to be working on its sequel.
Activision Blizzard is sued for discrimination and sexual harassment
In July, The California Division of Pretty Employment and Housing printed it had filed a lawsuit towards Activision Blizzard claiming that employees had confronted “fixed sexual harassment, including groping, feedback, and advances” due to a “frat boy workplace culture.” The lawsuit used to be the pinnacle outcomes of a two-year investigation, in which the department claims to contain uncovered many circumstances the build employees—in particular girls folks and minorities—were discriminated towards, sexually pressured, and denied opportunities that were as a change handed to much less qualified candidates.
The lawsuit involves nameless testimonies, including one occasion the build an employee allegedly dedicated suicide on a business trot after being topic by sexual harassment from a supervisor. Blizzard president J. Allen Brack and worn inventive director Alex Afrasiabi were two managers named without lengthen within the suit. It alleges that Afrasiabi sexually pressured several girls folks whereas Brack allowed toxic habits to fester for the length of the firm and did tiny to close it.
Activision Blizzard leadership vehemently denied the lawsuit and known as its claims “meritless,” which outraged many most trendy and worn employees who felt that they were being silenced. Within the week following news of the lawsuit, dozens of worn and most trendy employees started talking up and sharing their believe experiences of harassment and toxicity on the firm. Over 2,500 employees signed an launch letter condemning Activision Blizzard leadership and anxious accountability, and employees also staged a walkout in recount.
Steven enjoys nothing greater than a prolonged grind, which is precisely why his distinctiveness is on investigative feature reporting on China’s PC games scene, uncommon tales that upset his folk, and MMOs. He’s Canadian however can not ice skate. Embarrassing.