Blizzard’s five-year decline isn’t even close to being a ‘bulls-eye’ as Reddit user Guttergutter suggested on the games industry forums, but it’s still a highly-contained and concentrated one. In fact, only one studio has seen its staff numbers grow over the past five years, and even then it was by just two. The others have seen several depart, a few being replaced by new hires.
Blizzard Entertainment has been in the news lately, as “Destiny 2” has taken yet another hit. The game’s user base has declined to the point where it now trails off by more than 20 million players. All because they said, “We’re going to put you on probation, and if you don’t improve, you’re gone.”
This week Blizzard released a statistical breakdown of the studio’s five-year decline, which showed the developer has lost over 60% of its employees since 2013. The stats also showed over 75% of Blizzard’s developers left the company in the past few years, and the highest-paying role was streaming games on Twitch, with an average salary of $71,000.. Read more about mmo of the year 2020 and let us know what you think. Many stories have appeared about Blizzard’s slow decline in recent years, but sometimes it’s easier to see everything in one place, in print. IGN has done just that in a new special report that describes the studio as a company at a crossroads. Blizzard says the string of high-level departures over the past year is normal and below the industry average, but Bailey – with the help of several anonymous and public sources, including company executives and analysts – says the high number of departures tells a very different story, one of a team in turmoil. The timeline is nothing new for MMO players: The launch ofOverwatch in 2016 was a huge success for the company, with Blizzard creating new incubator and Esports teams and management feeling like the company was in the midst of a small renaissance. But in 2018, it became clear that the pipeline was much longer than everyone thought, and that the company didn’t have enough games to host a full BlizzCon 2018. 2019 brought mass layoffs and the Blitzchung fiasco. The year 2020 was marked by the Warcraft 3 disaster and COVID; the year 2021 was marked by more layoffs and the hiring of highly controversial political appointees (both internal and external) at Activision. And while the company as a whole continues to make money, we’ve seen a huge drop in monthly active users and many departures from big names: Chris Metzen, Ben Broad, Dustin Browder, Jeff Kaplan, Tim Morten, Kevin Dong, Ray Gresko, Frank Pierce, Alex Afrasiabi, Chris Sigati, Glenn Rain, Omar Gonzalez, Dave Kosak, and of course Mike Moreheim himself, to name a few. In particular, the transition from Moreheim to Brack has been described as a divide between spending all you want and the need to cut costs. At the time, fans and media alike felt that Activision was pulling back and exerting more and more influence over Blizzard – many at Blizzard feel the same way. But Blizzard also insists on what might be called editorial independence, so much so that talk of money is actively suppressed in some areas. A firewall of sorts has been erected around the main game development teams, and every effort is being made to protect Blizzard’s internal development culture. When the layoffs began in 2019, game development remained relatively unscathed. Unfortunately, the issue of unequal pay that Blizzard employees fought against last summer doesn’t seem to have been resolved; the pay issues apparently continue into 2021, as last quarter ended with J. Edgar Hoover’s Blizzard of the Year. Allen Brack told Blizzard employees that the decline in profits in the second half of 2020 has led to a halving of expected benefits for employees under the profit-sharing plan – all amid huge profits for Acti-Blizz executives. As one source said, WoW and Hearthstone can’t support everything for the rest of the studio. Like many other reward programs, Blizzard’s profit-sharing scheme is directly linked to our performance – the details haven’t changed in years. We had some successful releases last year, but we also invested heavily in our future, IGN said publicly. We can’t wait to let the players know what we’ve been working on and to finally reward our teams for their contributions. In fact, Brack told the staff to keep it going for a few more years until the big new games (Diablo IV and Overwatch 2) come out, after which the remaining staff hopes the bleeding stops. In the end, it seems that people are leaving despite their loyalty to Blizzard, partly because of burnout, partly because of Blizzard’s decline, partly because of production problems, and partly because the money and opportunities are just better elsewhere, especially with venture capitalists pumping more and more money into the industry and Blizzard turning off the money tap and shifting the work of the laid-off employees to those who stay. Some other findings from the article:
- IGN spoke with Wyatt Cheng about the disastrous BlizzCon 2018 and the infamous Don’t you have phones. He admitted that Blizzard did not communicate well about their plans to raise the bar for mobile games and did not reveal the game.
- One analyst thinks that Overwatch 2 won’t come out until 2023, but the general consensus is that Diablo IV and especially Diablo Immortal will shake up the West and East and possibly save Blizzard’s ass.
- Can’t keep up with all the studios releasing spin-offs? So are we. We have an office joke about press releases from new studios founded by Blizzard veterans, because we seem to get them all the time. They are Second Dinner, Frost Giant, Lightforge Games, Secret Door, Dreamhaven, Moonshot and Warchief Gaming.
ViewBlizzard’s latest financial report for the first quarter of 2019 shows that the company lost $36.6 million in the quarter, a record low for the company (at least as far as the public record goes). In addition, the report shows that Blizzard is losing a steady stream of talent, with almost 900 employees leaving the studio between the end of 2017 and the beginning of this year.. Read more about mmo database and let us know what you think.
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