Blizzard Entertainment, the publisher behind popular video games such as World of Warcraft and Overwatch 2, is facing backlash from its employees after a meeting held on Thursday by Blizzard president Mike Ybarra. According to reports, Blizzard staff expressed their disappointment with the leadership and publicly challenged Ybarra’s statements. The reduced profit-sharing plan also came as a shock to employees, with the company cutting their bonus down to 58% of what was promised.
The return-to-office mandate was another issue that caused frustration among employees, with the new policy requiring workers to come back to the office for three days a week after two years of working from home. The cost of commuting and moving for employees who were hired out-of-state during the pandemic was also highlighted as an additional expense. Blizzard spokesperson, Andrew Reynolds, said the company would make exceptions “for medical or religious reasons” and honor its current long-term remote agreements. Customer service workers will also continue to work remotely.
Blizzard workers have taken to social media to express their dissatisfaction with the company, highlighting the low morale that followed the meeting. Some workers are even calling for the industry’s first labor unions. The gaming industry has been widely criticized for undervaluing roles such as QA and customer service, which are essential but vulnerable to low pay and crunch. Ybarra’s comments have been interpreted as a slight to these roles, which are among the first to unionize.
This influx of social media postings from Blizzard workers can be seen as a form of solidarity, with employees showing their discontent with the company’s leadership. It is rare for the gaming industry to see such an outward display of defiance from workers. Blizzard Entertainment’s management needs to address the concerns of its employees and make changes that benefit everyone. The industry should focus on valuing all its workers equally, promoting a culture of fair play, and avoiding the negative impact of low morale, high turnover, and bad publicity.
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