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IGN Report on Blizzard Departures and the Company's Future, With Insider Info

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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.
     
Quote

As with anything, the decision to go independent varies from developer to developer. Plenty leave because their game has been canceled or put into maintenance mode. One common factor seems to be a desire to return to a smaller, more intimate environment. A separate source within Blizzard observed that former Blizzard developers typically haven’t left to lead big-budget games like Assassin’s Creed — they’ve gone to smaller studios, perhaps to search for what one current Blizzard source terms “that ‘family’ feeling” again. While that feeling is purportedly still present at Blizzard, shifting team sizes can cause a developer to go looking for that feeling elsewhere. -   Kat Bailey

  • 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.
     
Quote

"We are about to turn the corner into a really exciting time,” Ion Hazzikostas says optimistically. “I think Blizzard has long development cycles. The games that we make are not games that are produced and turned around quickly in a year or two. People have seen what's in the works with Diablo 4, with Overwatch 2, and are incredibly excited about both of those games. [...] [W]e have other projects that are in the works, and I think, you know, folks across the world will be seeing before too long what we're up to, and I can't wait to share that with them.”


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!

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So...it's all about the money. Why are we not surprised? Didn't it used to be about the creativity? THAT is what has been missing form World of Warcraft for a couple of years. Goodbye!!!

 

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Uncommon Patron

To me the article is largely a bunch of fluff trying to paint a darker picture at Blizzard than actually exists...

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"People have seen what's in the works with Diablo 4, with Overwatch 2, and are incredibly excited about both of those games." ???

never been excited about overwatch 2, could have just added a DLC/Expansion for the current?

Diablo 4, Sure looks nice but, excited ? not really tbh. will have to see what its like when its actually here.
learned it the hardway,being excited for a certain game being a letdown in from release, this applies to myself though.

im probably a bit picky in terms of games in general so yeah, but my interest has always been turn-based genre like the old days.

Edited by Smokalogy

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4 hours ago, Wildwitch said:

So...it's all about the money. Why are we not surprised? Didn't it used to be about the creativity? THAT is what has been missing form World of Warcraft for a couple of years. Goodbye!!!

 

It is easy to claim it is all about the creativity when you have 12.5 million subs throwing money at you. If Blizzard had not been making money all along we wouldn't have a game to play today.

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Personally, I think mass layoffs were one of their biggest mistakes in terms of employee morale. When employees see that anyone can be laid off at any time for no good reason, they'll start to wonder if it's better for them to simply leave on their own terms instead.

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8 hours ago, Monlyth said:

Personally, I think mass layoffs were one of their biggest mistakes in terms of employee morale. When employees see that anyone can be laid off at any time for no good reason, they'll start to wonder if it's better for them to simply leave on their own terms instead.

Most of them were for customer support, rather than dev teams. Of course, there might be more issues, like organisation. Interesting to see that their "incubator" projects got canceled. There must be something going on, but also in some cases it makes sense that people who were there for about 20 years or more would want to retire or do something smaller.

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45 minutes ago, Arcling said:

Most of them were for customer support, rather than dev teams.

This is gold. Right now i'm waiting 28 hours for a response to my ticket. Most bad thing happened to Blizzard was removal of human elements and replacing them with stupid wardens and automated systems.

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4 hours ago, Arcling said:

Most of them were for customer support, rather than dev teams. Of course, there might be more issues, like organisation. Interesting to see that their "incubator" projects got canceled. There must be something going on, but also in some cases it makes sense that people who were there for about 20 years or more would want to retire or do something smaller.

Sure, lay off customer support and move it to India. Great step. Kudos to all Blizzard management to allowing this. 

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5 hours ago, Sabejnos said:

Sure, lay off customer support and move it to India. Great step. Kudos to all Blizzard management to allowing this. 

Yeah, I'm not keen of it either. But reducing customer support is a common practice, especially since they made some functions automated, although waiting times for GM response can suck.

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On 5/24/2021 at 2:57 AM, Arcling said:

Yeah, I'm not keen of it either. But reducing customer support is a common practice, especially since they made some functions automated, although waiting times for GM response can suck.

They automated lots of things, even answers after 3 days of waiting. 😄 

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