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Mike Ybarra, head of Blizzard Entertainment, talked about Blizzard’s recent purchase by Microsoft, their 2021 year and the company’s plans for improvement for 2022 onwards in a blog post on Thursday. He outlined the goal of “rebuilding trust” of fans and staff alike, amongst other things.
There were a lot of problems within Activision-Blizzard in 2021, from the alleged poor culture, to the discrimination lawsuit that caused turmoil within the company. The ongoing effects of this lawsuit have led to firings of staff, name changes of characters and calls for significant change within the company. Even so, conditions at Activision Blizzard studio Raven Software saw the rise of a labor strike in December. But, with the Microsoft purchasing all of Activision Blizzard, Ybarra stepped onto Blizzard’s site to talk more in detail. The points varied about what those changes have been and will continue to be.
Blizzard’s changes for now and the future
Ybarra’s post listed off changes that Blizzard has managed so far. First off, the company is “measuring our executive and management teams directly against culture improvement. This means their (and my own) success and compensation will directly depend on our overall success in creating a safe, inclusive, and creative work environment at Blizzard”, Ybarra said.
Secondly, Blizzard is “dedicating more full-time roles and resources to improving our culture”. These added roles include a culture leader, a new Human Resources (HR) organizational leader and a Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DE&I) leader.
Thirdly, the company has “tripled” the size of their compliance and investigation teams, applying to all staff, including management.
Lastly, the company has implemented an “upward feedback program.” This aims to help staff evaluate their management and help manage quality within the company.
What the future holds
Ybarra himself states that these changes are just the start of Blizzard’s future. At the end of his post on Blizzard’s forums, Ybarra states that he knows that “we need to deliver content to our players on a more regular basis and innovate both in and beyond our existing games. We have some exciting things to announce, and I’ll be sharing more next week.”
Becoming part of Microsoft offers not only a new start, but hopefully a chance to improve on what problems Activision Blizzard has had. With the recent announcement from Activision Blizzard CEO Bobby Kotick, the team is trying to keep as many staff from their team before the Microsoft purchase as possible. The future is unclear for Blizzard’s plans in 2022, but Ybarra states that the community’s calls are being heard.
Polish-Canadian game enthusiast. I've been entrenched in gaming for as long as I can remember, with my first game being Pokemon Yellow and my most played games being Borderlands 2 and Overwatch. I have a degree in Film Studies, but writing about esports just makes my job all the better.