A decade ago, Blizzard as a company was considered the gold standard of gaming. CD Projekt Red’s reputation before Cyberpunks launch was disastrous by comparison. The company could do no wrong. Gamers loved them, other developers wanted to be them and they were on top of the industry. Very few game developers can claim that their games impacted a generation. Blizzard however can claim that on multiple titles. But now, Blizzard you know is gone and it won’t be coming back.
Content Warning: This article mentions a lawsuit against Blizzard regarding some truly reprehensible acts including extreme misogyny, sexual abuse and suicide. I do not go in-depth into these at all and it is mentioned only in passing. I am someone who could never understand the pain that is inflicted on abuse victims but want to make sure everyone gets a fair warning.
The Robot Republic and myself find the allegations to be beyond reprehensible and fully support any charges laid bare. – Not being a piece of shit is one of the easiest things a person can do. Sadly, many choose not to take that option. – Angry Joe
As I said in my introduction, Blizzard used to be considered the gold standard of gaming. Thousands would fight for the right to attend Blizzcon, they commanded millions of dedicated followers before gaming was considered cool and through their games, have helped millions of people find community, connection and happiness. It is my opinion though, that these days are over. In 2021, Blizzard is a company who get described as “tone deaf and out of touch” by even their most dedicated of fans. It is impossible to find excuses or good justifications behind some of the decisions that this company has made.
Couldn’t keep in touch with a 10 foot pole –
From introducing pay-to-win mechanics in Diablo, to unveiling Diablo Immortal - a mobile sequel to Blizzards second most iconic franchise in front of their most hardcore PC gaming fans at blizzcon. Out of touch is a definition that they have rightly earnt. The infamous “Do you guys not have phones” misfire was only the most popular instance of their frailness. World Of Warcraft, since 2012 has turned more and more into a desperate money machine. Most updates have focused on improving efficiency and mastering microtransactions. It is no surprise that FFXIV has surged to MMO dominance in 2021. Icons of WoW such as Asmongold struggle to stay with the game and while it is a stupendously old game, Blizzard are surely responsible for a massive part of this.
Tone Deaf Beyond Belief –
Blizzard is a company that throughout its many years, has supported movements such as the push for gay rights, Black Lives Matter and almost all global human rights issues. They have, like many other companies, attempted to show that they find treating humans like garbage unacceptyable. In October of 2019 however, this support needed to be edited to include a tiny asterisk. “We find violating human rights to be reprehensible” (as long as its profitable). The backlash that followed was monumental. Blizzards only response to this was to hide and hope it went away. Which of course, it never truly did.
Following this, it was announced that Bobby Kottick, Activision-Blizzards infamous CEO had earned himself a bonus check that could make Bezos blush. Record profits were announced in February 2019 and the company was doing better, financially speaking, than it ever had. Again, Blizzard could not help themselves but to add an asterisk to this. It was announced (at the exact same time, in the same press release) that Blizzard was also laying-off over 800 workers. A large number of these workers were then rehired due to the backlash but, AGAIN, Blizzard could not help but to add YET ANOTHER asterisk to this. Some of those workers were rehired on significantly worse contracts with lower pay, lower holiday hours and lower medical benefits.
It is hard to see how anyone, let alone people trained in the fine art of capitalism and anti-consumerism could not see a world in which they face backlash for these decisions. These events aren’t related to the games themselves, (those are arguably worse) but the way the company is run speaks volumes about how Blizzard thinks of itself and its customers.
“You want good games? Sorry, I can’t hear you over the sound of all of this money!@!@!”. –
Warcraft 3 is the game that ensnared the hearts of millions, birthed entire genres and laid the foundations for perhaps the single most iconic game in history. It is no surprise then that this game (finally) received a sequel. Almost 20 long years after this beast of a game was released, Warcraft 3: Reforged blessed us with its tainted and demonic presence. Blizzard promised new features, updated cutscenes, better audio and generally gave the impression that they were going to bring this beloved game into the modern era. This is not what happened.
If you simply want to skip to the next article, I will say this and this only. Warcraft 3: Reforged holds the record for the lowest review on metacritic ever with a rating of 0.6. Reforged has an extremely low amount of supporters. From removed features to worse gameplay across the board, Reforged was an absolute disaster. Remember me mentioning the cutscene change? Well they certainly changed them alright. THEY MADE THEM WORSE. Animations no longer existing and the camera showing LESS in the cutscenes are just a few of the things that players hated. Blizzard removed feature such as the ranked ladder and removed the ability to reconnect to games. Matchmaking didn’t exist and it was an absolute mess. Blizzard had the opportunity to improve the extremely outdated UI. Did they? No. They removed features from that as well. If we hadn’t known that Blizzard was gone by this point, we will soon.
The Allegations –
The final nail in the already 666ft buried deep coffin for myself was this. A lawsuit by the State of California against blizzard surrounding the “Frat-boy” culture, misogyny, pay discrepancies and suicide of a bullied and sexually abused female employee. I strongly believe in the idea that someone must be considered innocent until proven guilty. It is not a system that is perfect in anyway, yet it is the system that my country and most democracies on the planet uses. However, the amount of allegations laid against Blizzard in this instance is akin to a tsunami. It is impossible to at least not see a pattern emerge. Employee reviews, the lawsuit, twitter allegations and Blizzards own response to this firestorm lead to it being virtually impossible to give Blizzard any chance of a benefit of the doubt.
Openly drinking while working, ignoring complaints about sexual harassment, toxicity and open misogyny in the work place and more are not even the most serious of these accusations. Without even focusing on these being horrible in themselves, it is easy to see how a developer filled to the brim with rot could lose its way in terms of game development.
It has been reported (uncorroborated) by second hand accounts from multiple sources that these allegations and the great firing of 2019 are linked. It has been said that Blizzards choice of action when this came to light internally back then was to fire the people they had found to be perpetrating the abuse. Great stuff right? Cut out the rot. Purify the company. Well, Blizzard seems to have pulled a Blizzard and have been accused of firing the victims of this abuse as well, in an attempt to remove any trace of the toxicity. Again adding an asterisk to every positive thing the company has done.
What does all of this mean? –
While it may come to light next week that this was all some ploy by the State of California to take over the world, destroy all nerds or some other such nonsense. One thing is clear, the damage has been done. The dust has not settled since the last 3 or 4 Blizzard scandals let alone this one and it is affecting the company greatly. As of writing, all development at Blizzard has stopped, the share price of Activision-Blizzard stock is tanking and many people seem to be happy that Blizzard is facing its due. Blizzard is a company that now see its customers as mere speed bumps on their journey to obtaining their money rather than the players it used to live to serve. WoW is bleeding, Diablo has been butchered and Overwatch has been delayed. It is impossible to see an outcome in this where Diablo 4 is a great game and Overwatch is the next esports megahit. It's impossible to see a wold where Blizzard can be considered anything but a slave to its Activision masters. Blizzard is gone. They aren’t coming back.
This article was written by our ally – The Aussie Perspective. A brand-new YouTuber with a passion for PC gaming. Check out his YouTube channel for all things PC specific gaming including reviews, opinions and a monthly section on the best games coming!
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