How much Activision does it take to change a Blizzard?


#1
Employees are being offered buyouts, department budgets are being reduced, and the development cadence is being increased with a company directive to make more money. The freewheeling Blizzard is done. According to independent sources speaking to Kotaku and Eurogamer, the cost-cutting comes as Activision increases its influence via leadership changes at Blizzard.

This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at https://www.quartertothree.com/fp/2018/12/26/how-much-activision-does-it-take-to-change-a-blizzard/

#2

I have not business sense, maybe killing the goose for meat is better than waiting for it to lay golden eggs.


#3

Well, it was a good run.


#4

I can recall buying Activision branded carts for my Atari 2600. Are they actively evil now?


#5

On the one hand, this could mean more Blizzard stuff I don’t care about (Overwatch, World of Warcraft, Starcraft, Diablo on mobile devices). On the other hand, this could also mean more Blizzard stuff I do care about on a more regular schedule (more Diablo games?)


#6

I’ve kinda lost track of who is evil and who is not. That being said, I long ago stopped putting my game creator heros on pedestals. Being a person who has been through lean times and layoffs, sometimes its horrible, and at other times after trimming the dead weight, the airship flies again.

Here’s hoping it’s the latter, there has been way too much of the former in the gaming industry.


#7

I’m surprised how long this took. I assumed back in 2008 that this would be phased in by now and Blizzard would be a gutted shell, much as Bioware has become another shattered husk absorbed by EA.


#8

This is good news - I’ve been waiting.

Hopefully we’ll finally see World of Starcraft soon.

Take my money, Bobby Kotick!


#9

Blizzard didn’t really stumble until recently. WoW income is dropping drastically, heroes of the storm is a dud, failure to monetize Diablo, and of course the mobile Diablo fiasco. Hearthstone and Overwatch are bright spots but what have you done for me lately?


#10

stusser, where did you find the WOW subscriber info? I’m not surprised that copying the Star Wars: Galaxies dev model isn’t working out well for Blizzard, but hard sub numbers are tricky to locate.


#11

How is it copying SWG? I don’t get that statement. WoW is a 15 year old game dying through attrition, SWG was murdered as a child.

There are no hard numbers available.


#12

I wrote a really long post, but my Browser ate it. Here’s the cliff notes.

Basically, WoW has a history of making sweeping gameplay reasons with little explanation. Much of the Developer discussion of the changes is typically shown to be inaccurate, sometimes immediately.

Things include:

  1. Replacing the talent system for a non-combat talent system. Reason given: old talent system had an “optimal build”. Well, the new one does too. And it’s almost all combat stuff now, too.

  2. DK’s can pick either role with any spec! Wait, that was too hard, J/K Blood is for Tanking now, Frost is for DPS.

  3. Garrisons will be an ongoing feature of the game! Legion: J/K Garrisons are Draenor content.

  4. Legendary Weapons will be an ongoing feature of the game! BfA: J/K Ashbringer is a bank item now, get a new Green from questing.

This doesn’t include the “minor” stuff like pruning most skills from the game in Legion (in order to have more screen UI space, apparently?!), Versatile classes not getting cross-spec skills any more (why make a versatile class character then?), the Cooking debacle in Pandaria, and the shuffling of “best class” every patch (while sadly common, no, this is not a universal MMO feature).


#13

They have made changes for sure, and some didn’t work out well, but nothing like how Sony gutted SWG with the NGE, changing the entire game wholesale in such a way that it alienated the entire playerbase.


#14

Oh boy.


#15

He got picked up by Netflix. Not sure it is a firing so much as he found a better offer.


#16

Is there a difference in the corporate world?


#17

Good point. Also this is Activision, a company that literally fired some of its best developers for “insubordination” when they asked for the bonus they were promised.

I can see that kind of corporate culture “firing” someone who was out there interviewing for example (purely my speculation here I have no evidence).


#18

There have been rumblings about Activision’s increasing encroachment into Blizz bizz for a while now. It was certainly inevitable at some point, corporate culture is a disease that’s impossible to inoculate yourself from in a long term sense. I think they did an enviable job, for quite a long time.

R.I.P. I’ve probably put more hours into Combined Blizzard games than anything else.


#19

Gonna need citations for this, since I’m nearly 100% certain they knew they were both features just for WoD and Legion respectively. The team does change direction, little changes during each expansion with larger changes every couple years, and that can be frustrating, but they’ve never had an element like Garrisons or Artifact Weapons carry over to a new expansion. So yeah, I’m pretty sure you’re imagining these two, sorry.


#20

Blizzard was my favorite PC game company from the first time I encountered its games back in the days of DOS. I could play its games on release without having to wait for a patch(es) to make it playable or fun. I enjoyed playing Battle Chess when it was released in 1991 and have played nearly every game Blizzard has released. Even today I occasionally play WarCraft: Orcs & Humans to satisfy a desire to revisit the “golden age” of PC gaming.

I feel very sad when I think of what Activision has done to Blizzard. Activision is indeed killing the proverbial goose that laid the golden eggs. I hope somewhere down the road some former Blizzard employees will form their own company and make games as great as Blizzard’s once were.