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We now have a response on the subject of the sexual harrassment and discrimination lawsuit filed against Activision Blizzard from the former CEO and co-founder of Blizzard, Mike Morhaime, as well. The investigation itself hadn't started by the time he left the company, but some of the allegations in it came during his tenure as CEO.
Morhaime stepped down as CEO of Blizzard in October of 2018, and has since founded a new game publishing company, Dreamhaven.
I have read the full complaint against Activision Blizzard and many of the other stories. It is all very disturbing and difficult to read. I am ashamed. It feels like everything I thought I stood for has been washed away. What’s worse but even more important, real people have been harmed, and some women had terrible experiences.
I was at Blizzard for 28 years. During that time, I tried very hard to create an environment that was safe and welcoming for people of all genders and backgrounds. I knew that it was not perfect, but clearly we were far from that goal. The fact that so many women were mistreated and were not supported means we let them down. In addition, we did not succeed in making it feel safe for people to tell their truth. It is no consolation that other companies have faced similar challenges. I wanted us to be different, better.
Harassment and discrimination exist. They are prevalent in our industry. It is the responsibility of leadership to keep all employees feeling safe, supported, and treated equitably, regardless of gender and background. It is the responsibility of leadership to stamp out toxicity and harassment in any form, across all levels of the company. To the Blizzard women who experienced any of these things, I am extremely sorry that I failed you.
I realize that these are just words, but I wanted to acknowledge the women who had awful experiences. I hear you, I believe you, and I am so sorry to have let you down. I want to hear your stories, if you are willing to share them. As a leader in our industry, I can and will use my influence to help drive positive change and to combat misogyny, discrimination, and harassment wherever I can. I believe we can do better, and I believe the gaming industry can be a place where women and minorities are welcomed, included, supported, recognized, rewarded, and ultimately unimpeded from the opportunity to make the types of contributions that all of us join this industry to make. I want the mark I leave on this industry to be something that we can all be proud of.
-Mike This follows a day of announcement and statements, as we've heard from current Blizzard President J.Allen Brack, as well as from Activision Blizzard executive Fran Townsend.
Activision Blizzard executive vice president for corporate affairs Fran Townsend who joined Activision in March sent out a different kind of e-mail that has some Blizzard employees fuming, according to Jason Schreier.
Blizzard President J. Allen Brack sent an e-mail to Blizzard staff recently, addressing allegations related to this week's lawsuit, calling them "extremely troubling".
In contrast, Fran Townsend, Homeland Security Advisor to George W. Bush from 2004-2007, who joined Activision Blizzard quite recently, sent out the following mail to employees, as revealed by Bloomberg's Jason Schreier, calling the lawsuit “out of context”.
Placeholder for tweet 1418619091515068421 Image courtesy of Jason Schreier.
There have been many high-profile departures from Blizzard over the past years, with a couple happening just in the past month or so, and talk surrounding them and Blizzard's decline/change/fate have also been increasing consistently. This lead to IGN's Kat Bailey putting together a special report focusing on all of the departures and the current situation at Blizzard, talking to various developers both still working at the company and that have left it, to get a clear picture. The piece is very in-depth and takes a broader look at what's been happening, outside of the regularly heard doom and gloom attributed to the recent departures. We'll get into some of the highlights of the article, but if you're even a little interested in the topic you should absolutely take some time and read the full article over on IGN.
Using the most recent Blizzard departure, Jeff Kaplan, as a starting point, Bailey dives into the topic with both anonymous developers still working at Blizzard and on the record game directors that worked at the company for over 10 years. The reasons for some of the departures vary greatly, from simple fatigue from working on a single game/franchise for a long time, to big opportunities in the market today and, yes, those that left because they felt Blizzard was/has been declining for a while now.
Here are the big topics covered in the very in-depth article, each affecting the current situation and departures:
The dry period after the success of Overwatch and Hearthstone and following renaissance. 2018 BlizzCon as a (bad) turning point. Lowered developer profit-sharing as there are no new releases. The loss of many millions of monthly active users. The "incubation projects" that were supposed to come up with new ideas had 2 games cancelled and none announced so far. High profile developers leaving to found their own indie studios (Second Dinner, Frost Giant, Lightforge Games, Secret Door, Moonshot) or just other projects like Metzen's Warchief Gaming. Big influx of venture capital and the major increase in game-related venture funds impacted the creation of the above studios. The ease of poaching developers from Blizzard/them leaving has increased significantly because of a presumed "decline" narrative.
Bigger focus on controlling spending after Mike Morhaime's departure, including layoffs. Blizzard are still very much defending "editorial independence" and separating their developers from financial talk, a "firewall" is there to preserve the development culture. Support service and esports under bigger pressure with less funding, as a result of Blizzard Human Resources getting consolidated into Activision's. Developers sometimes have to chip in on the support and esports side, helping with events and even writing patch notes. Better times are ahead with Overwatch 2 and Diablo 4 launcher, but Diablo Immortal has the potential to be even bigger, possibly rivaling Call of Duty Mobile.
The article goes into MUCH more detail on each point above and many more beside them, and it's pretty much a must-read for anyone interested in the goings on at Blizzard in the past years, so head on over to IGN and give it a read!
Here's a new entry to the "From the Vault" line of Blizzard Store products, with the Overwatch anniversary taking over!
From the Vault (source)
As Blizzard celebrates an epic 30 years, we will be releasing limited-series goodies each remaining month of 2021. In May, we are celebrating the Overwatch 2021 anniversary. Check the Blizzard Gear Store every second Thursday of the month—you never know who (or what) we will be celebrating next!
Release 2 of 8 –
the Overwatch Anniversary 2021 Collection
Overwatch Original Sketch Concept Art Print 8" x 10" - Limited Release
D.Va 18" IncrediBuilds Colllectible Wood Model
Head to the Blizzard Gear Store to check out the rest of the Overwatch 2021 Anniversary Collection, and we’ll see you next month when we will reveal what we’re pulling from the vault next.
Blizzard held its first earnings call of 2021 yesterday and here are the highlights.
Activision Blizzard significantly exceeded its prior outlook for the first quarter, delivering very strong growth across their largest franchises. The company wants to hire more than 2,000 developers over the next 2 years, including tripling the size of certain franchise teams by the end of next year as compared to 2019. The Warcraft franchise maintained its strong momentum, while Blizzard's team continued to make good progress on a rich pipeline and extending key franchises to mobile. Blizzard had 27 million monthly active users (MAUs). Shadowlands continued to drive strong results following its record-setting release in November, with first-quarter franchise net bookings growing sharply year-over-year (Y/Y). The Shadowlands expansion has built on the substantial increase in WoW's scale since the launch of Classic in 2019. WoW saw strong reach, engagement, and participation in value-added services, along with a particularly high number of new players joining the community for the first time, boosted by initiatives to enhance the onboarding experience. Blizzard is building on this momentum with further content for the modern game and the upcoming introduction of The Burning Crusade Classic. Hearthstone's Forged in the Barrens expansion is on track to deliver expansion-over-expansion net bookings growth for the second consecutive release. Ahead of the launch later this year, Diablo 2: Resurrected saw very positive feedback during early testing in April and online viewership of the alpha test was the highest ever for a Blizzard game test. Diablo Immortal entered its second phase of testing and is on track for global release later this year. According to President and Chief Operating Officer Daniel Alegre, Diablo IV will advance the art of the action RPG genre. Source