In an extensive report published earlier this week, several former Blizzard employees spoke to Kotaku on condition of anonymity to express concerns about Activision’s growing influence on the studio. The conversation was spurred by the recent Diablo controversy, which saw Blizzard come under fire for announcing a mobile title as opposed to the next console and PC game in the series.
Activison Blizzard’s Chief Financial Officer, Amrita Ahuja, reportedly took Blizzard employees by surprise in Spring 2018 when she announced that one of the company’s goals for the next year was to save money. “This is the first year we’ve heard a priority being cutting costs and trying not to spend as much,” said an employee who was at the meeting.
Another employee who claims to have left Blizzard partly due to Activision’s negative influence said that it almost felt like Blizzard wasn’t making any money although that’s not the case. “This was the very first time I ever heard, ‘We need to show growth,'” they added. “That was just so incredibly disheartening for me.”
Apparently, Overwatch‘s revenue has set the bar so high for Activision that it’s putting Blizzard under pressure to “get shit moving.” “They want something to show shareholders,” said a former developer. According to them, Activision wants Blizzard to cut as many costs as possible because the studio has no new IP.
When Kotaku reached out to Blizzard for a statement on former employees’ concerns about an ongoing change of culture at the company, a spokesperson wrote:
Blizzard has been and continues to be a developer-driven company. All of the games we create represent ideas our game developers themselves are passionate about. This is as true for Diablo Immortal as it was for Warcraft: Orcs & Humans, or Overwatch, or any game we’ve ever made. We believe that the best games to make are ones that our developers believe in.
Blizzard’s co-founder, Michael Morhaime, stepped down from his role as President of the company in October 2018. He handed over the reins to veteran J. Allen Brack, and settled for an advisory role.