Image: Blizzard Entertainment

Blizzard Entertainment CEO Mike Ybarra has published a lengthy post outlaying actions the company is taking to improve itself in moving forward. Titled “Putting our teams and players at the forefront of everything we do,” it was posted on the company’s Inside Blizzard blog and lists rebuilding trust as a top priority.

“Our top priority—now and into the future—is the work we are doing to rebuild your trust in Blizzard.”

Rough Times in 2021

To say that Activision Blizzard traversed a rocky road in 2021 would be an understatement. From lawsuits over allegations of sexual misconduct and harassment to the laying off of QA contractors at Raven Software, and a walkout that called for the resignation of CEO Bobby Kotick, things have been tumultuous, to say the least. Factor in reports of a significant decline in sales for games in its Call of Duty franchise and server issues for Diablo II: Resurrected, which also resulted in another lengthy post, it became clear that the company’s player base was not happy with it.

Moving Forward

It was recently announced that Microsoft is purchasing Activision Blizzard. This, no doubt, one of the top events of 2021, has led Mr. Ybarra to comment on the past while laying the groundwork for the future. He said he was encouraged by reading “forums, social posts, and emails from people within and outside of Blizzard” as they voiced their beliefs in “standing up for what is right.” He responded that amid recent challenges, they are listening and “are committed to change.”

Watching Blizzard work as creatively and diligently as we have throughout this challenging time (on top of an ongoing pandemic) has been inspiring. Navigating these challenges, evolving our development processes, and being introspective and looking at how we can improve our culture shows incredible strength and commitment to one another, our work, and to the player communities.

Mr. Ybarra finished his post with a list of steps being taken now and planned for the future. It includes quite a bit of action toward creating a company culture that has a more supportive environment for its employees. Management salaries, including his own, will depend on the success of said plans.

• We’re measuring our executive and management teams directly against culture improvement. This means their (and my own) success and compensation will directly depend on our overall success in creating a safe, inclusive, and creative work environment at Blizzard.
• We’re dedicating more full-time roles and resources to improving our culture. All too often, this important effort falls to employee resource groups, filled with people who already have full-time jobs. A few of the leadership positions we’ve established for this new team include:
• a Culture leader who will help us maintain the best aspects of what we have today, and change and evolve where needed to ensure everyone brings their best self to Blizzard
• a new organizational leader for Human Resources who will build trust, empower our teams, and help foster a safe, positive work environment for everyone
• a Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DE&I) leader solely focused on our progress across multiple efforts in this area
• We are committed to staffing these teams as a priority.
• We tripled the size of our compliance and investigation teams and have articulated clear accountability for unacceptable behavior. This applies to all employees at Blizzard, including leadership and management.
• We have shared representation data internally with our teams and have set goals around improvement across these metrics.
• We’ve put in place an upward feedback program so that employees have confidence in evaluating management, and we will use this to measure the quality and effectiveness of our managers.

Only time will tell if things at Activision Blizzard will turn around. From its staffing to customer confidence, the longtime publisher has a lot of hard work ahead of it. Additionally, the landscape of game publishing and development has gone through significant changes in the past couple of years, as publishers and studios alike adapt to the ongoing pandemic.

Source: Blizzard Entertainment (via Engadget)

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Peter Brosdahl

As a child of the 70’s I was part of the many who became enthralled by the video arcade invasion of the 1980’s. Saving money from various odd jobs I purchased my first computer from a friend of my...

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6 Comments

  1. If all senior management and execs that were there for all the years shady sh!t was going on aren’t removed, trust will never be earned back. You can’t allow what took place and make it all better by saying “Our bad, please give us another chance.” They had multiple chances to accept responsibility and all Kotick did was make things worse. Now he wants this acquisition so he can get his $300M payout. Scum.

  2. What trust? There was never trust. Blizzard made a few good games in the nineties, they were toxic ever since.

  3. [QUOTE=”MadMummy76, post: 47427, member: 1298″]
    What trust? There was never trust. Blizzard made a few good games in the nineties, they were toxic ever since.
    [/QUOTE]
    Sad but true. I had checked out of gaming, in general, for a while during the 90s, and when I got back into it during the end of the 90s I wanted to get Gauntlet legends on PSone but it sucked. I had been playing with friends on N64 and was really impressed. Meanwhile Diablo came out I I really enjoyed it and played until I finished it.

    On the flip side, I had really good memories of Activision from the 80s. Seriously, their 8-bit cartridges were steps above those of the console manufacturers they made them for.

    Fast forward to present times and I can’t recognize either beyond their legalized assimilated names. Neither part of either company resembles anything I would know. I hope for the best since both have reached such lows.

  4. They should just cut the bullshit and get back to making entertaining games. That’s literally all I ask for out of game developers. Limit your microtransaction shit to cosmetics, but don’t screw over the people who don’t want to pay for that crap. If you want to create DLC, just be reasonable about the price/content ratio. Surprisingly, Mass Effect 3’s original run is really the correct way to do DLC. Multiplayer DLC’s were always free so as not to divide the community. Single player DLC’s like Leviathan and the Citadel DLC added to the base game and gave you content that was reasonable for the amount spent on them.

    There were weapon and cosmetic packs that were entirely optional and cost less than major single-player DLC missions. When the ending turned out to be a piece of shit, the company’s fix for it was free. As it should have been. It wasn’t all necessarily as good as it could have been but it was priced fairly for the most part and you only had to get what you paid for. The only blemish on their DLC record for the game was the “From Ashes DLC” which was a day one DLC that was clearly cut content from the original game that was more or less integral to it. It came with the deluxe edition of the game but not the base one. BioWare and EA caught a lot of flak for it and straightened up after that.

    People whined about Cyberpunk 2077’s first DLC drop but as it was free, I didn’t mind it. Not that any of the cosmetic items or the car were worth a shit, but it was fine given the cost. They can’t all be winners.

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