‘We do not serve Activision Blizzard’: Furious WoW players stage protest against Blizzard

    
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Following yesterday’s revelation that the state of California is suing Activision-Blizzard in a 29-page complaint that alleges a serious pattern of sexual harassment and discrimination that led to the death of a Blizzard staffer (among many other things), you might be wondering what you can do about it. If you’ve been reading our comments, you know that many MMO players are finding that it was Blizzard’s very last straw for them, particularly since a well-known longtime World of Warcraft developer was named in the complaint; some of our readers are abandoning the game, hunting for other games to play, deleting the game, canceling their subscriptions, or even cancelling Diablo II Resurrected preorders. (My spouse is currently shopping around for an Overwatch replacement, so I feel you.)

But if you’ve already prepaid a subscription and you feel strongly about it, you could join in a protest inside WoW itself. As first reported by Polygon, roleplaying guild Fence Macabre of Moon Guard and Wyrmrest Accord organized a sit-in this afternoon in protest of the “unethical treatment of employees at Activision-Blizzard.” The guild is also fundraising for the non-profit Black Girls CODE and invited “sub-locked players” – that is, people who have prepaid their sub anyway – to join them. We’re guessing it won’t be the last show of player anger over the allegations in the lawsuit. If you’re gonna make trouble, make good trouble.

Meanwhile, over on the Blizzard game subreddits, the moderators have issued a blanket statement condemning Blizzard’s behavior. It’s signed by the mods of r/wow, r/Overwatch, r/hearthstone, r/starcraft, r/heroesofthestorm, r/Diablo, r/warcraft3, r/classicwow, r/woweconomy, r/competitiveHS, and r/blizzard. Here’s the quote from the WoW sub:

“As moderators of the subreddits for Activision Blizzard’s games, we vehemently condemn the sexual harassment and hostile working environment alleged in the recent lawsuit between Activision Blizzard and the state of California. We will not be censoring this topic on our subreddits. We do not serve Activision Blizzard; we are unpaid volunteers with no affiliation to the company. Above all else we serve our individual communities and we believe this is an important discussion to be had.

“Having said that, discussion surrounding this topic still needs to adhere to the rules of our subreddits. Victim blaming, sexism, and harassment of others will not be tolerated. We will try to keep the discussion consolidated to the existing main thread for convenience and visibility.

“We stand by the victims of this situation, and we hope that this lawsuit is resolved in such a way that justice is met for those who deserve it.

“We call for these issues to be addressed by Activision Blizzard appropriately and exhaustively. As a group of moderators, we are deeply saddened about these events and the hostile work environment created by them. We strive to make our communities inclusive and safe for all, and urge Activision Blizzard to take steps to demonstrate that they are doing the same.”

While our article yesterday referred to public statements from several women who observed or were victim to abuse at Blizzard, the WoW subreddit has compiled an even bigger list of Blizzard developers who’ve issued testimonials on the topic. I count 28 current and former staffers.

Further reading:

Source: Twitter, Polygon. Cheers, Keldyn!
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Danny G

We All Quitting Wow for the same reasons
and no blizzard doesn’t care
they never did
and they never will

MilitiaMasterV
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MilitiaMasterV

Feel free to join me in boycotting the company. I’ve been boycotting them since Starcraft II : Terran Campaign/Before Cataclysm. Sure, I should’ve started even before that, but it took me even as a fanboi a bit to realize how scuzzy they were…

Ernost
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Ernost

IMO this ‘protest’ is a joke. At this point anyone still giving money to Blizzard is part of the problem. If they were serious about quitting they would chargeback.

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psytic

Blizzard will fire a few sacrificial lambs as a show of “understanding” then the players will come back like addicted crack heads and rationalize that Blizzard has removed the problem. Diablo 4 will come out and gamers will come running back. Business as usual for Blizzard. I am done though personally.

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Unnar Thor Thorisson

I’ll admit, my first thought was “So when are they gonna stop paying for nothing to change?” But that ain’t fair. Some people CAN’T leave. Their only social group is there, or their livelihood depends on making WoW-based content. And yeah, that means they’re gonna keep putting money into it, and they’re putting their own wellbeing first. But personally, I think that’s okay. You need to look after yourself.

There’s an old piece of Hindu scripture, I forget which book. It says that if a man steals to feed himself or his family, the sin of theft does not fall on his soul. It falls instead on the king who creates and sustains such a kingdom that does nothing for its poor and hungry, so that a man HAS to steal just to live or for his children to live.

Maybe people will say “Oh, that’s not the same.” For some it is. You lose your job, with no one who’ll help you and no prospects, then you tell me the moral stand is worth not being able to pay rent. Life’s full of compromise.

Me? My only meaningful social circle is one discord server I’m not even paying for. It’s easy for me. But I also dropped WoW months ago. How about you?

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Bruno Brito

But that ain’t fair. Some people CAN’T leave. Their only social group is there, or their livelihood depends on making WoW-based content. And yeah, that means they’re gonna keep putting money into it, and they’re putting their own wellbeing first. But personally, I think that’s okay. You need to look after yourself.

I agree to an extent. I think it takes a ungodly ammount of effort to switch games, but i KNOW there are good games out there that this crowd would love.

I can only imagine what the artists i follow would do with GW2 source-material. They would love it.

They need to try it at least, to give it a chance. But yes, it’ll take time.

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Unnar Thor Thorisson

Depends. WoW still has this going for it: The visuals are fantastic. Artists who do WoW stuff have a lot to work with. Now GW2 has a lot of amazing visuals too, don’t get me wrong, but it is quite the switch, and the pool is often shallower since there are fewer PC races and, well, let’s be honest, the Norn are just big Humans.

Most of all, though, is the fact that those artists aren’t just doing WoW stuff because they like WoW, they’re doing it because their followers recognize that stuff, and react much better to fanart from stuff they know and love than fanart from stuff they’ve never played. An artist branching out takes a huge risk.

Plus, like I said, some people have crippling social anxiety or other problems that make losing what might be their only friend group unbearable. That friend group isn’t all going to jump to the same game together, there’s no telling who just won’t like it.

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Bruno Brito

I’m aware of all that. I just want them to give a chance. I agree with the race issues, but i think it can be stretched a bit. GW2 is also way more open ended than WoW which makes most GW2 players transition way more pleasant. Autoattacking with an axe with a Ranger and realizing you can be the Beastmaster you always wanted to be in WoW feels good.

But yeah, i’m aware. Patience.

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SmiteDoctor

Here’s the case brief for CA vs Acti-Blizzard

https://aboutblaw.com/YJw

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angrakhan

I quit WoW a while ago because they managed to bore me… again. I was looking forward to Diablo 4, but now it will depend not only on them delivering a solid game, but some pretty significant changes to their corporate structure and practices as well.

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IronSalamander8 .

For an Overwatch replacement, there’s Paladins (although it can be buggy). TF2 is still good as well. I will of course recommend the 3 PvZ shooters, especially GW2, and even more so on console (I play on PC), as the community is larger there. I admit that I’ve been annoyed with Actizard for years so leaving OW (and their other games) was very easy for me. Maybe World of Tanks, although I haven’t been there in years so can’t be sure there, it had its own issues.

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Bruno Brito

I’m going to be the nuance guy for a while and bear my rage, because i’m sitting on this spot where i can see how much this is going to be hard for a lot of people.

Let’s start with the basics: I have to admit that anyone who keeps giving their money to Blizzard have to at least know where this money is going. Because it’s not going to the game, WoW has been suffering with the layoffs bringing bad Q&A, buggy releases and bad GM’ing for a while now.

It’s going into their defense and the prep of the legal team. Now, everyone deserves their day in court. We ALL want the procedings to go as smooth as possible because that’s how we get justice. I’m not interested in a single innocent going to prison, specially knowing these corporations LOVE using scapegoats.

At the same time, i know what Actiblizz will do with their next earnings, and this is why i talked with some of the people i knew that are having issues leaving and just told them “they don’t deserve you, they don’t want you, and they’ve been saying that for a while now through game design.”

Why am i saying this: So, it’s not really a secret here that i like to draw, and i follow a LOT of artists on Twitter. Many of them are WoW-artists. I follow a cosplayer which her main business is literally cosplaying WoW. One of my favourite artists is a WoW artist. For many people, the game is not just part of their history, it’s also their lifeline for work. Branching out in art is really similar to streaming: You take a terrible hit if you didn’t started branching out sooner. The ammount of toxicity i saw former TF2 Youtubers endure when they left the game for greener pastures was ridiculous. Not everyone is Asmongold. Many of them depends on fanart to pay their next meal, and they’re scared of branching out and losing this. It’s really, really hard to make ends meet by selling original art without being the next Artgerm or Yuumei. The normal conversion is doing fanart of other things ( which is also dubious, not many artists have this skill level of simply going into other areas ), or doing what gives a lot of money ( furry hentai is a good example, but that requires you to actually enjoy the content, because the furry community is pretty select, albeit supportive ).

For other people, people i also see in my TL, WoW has their friends. It became a safespace for them. Not everyone is social either, and dropping their already small social circles puts them in a position of anxiety that helps no one. Others are addicted. Not every circle will move to let’s say, GW2. Many of them wouldn’t move for Pservers, and honestly? I don’t recommend it. The Pserver community is one of the worst communities i’ve been a part of. Specially the subreddit.

Look, it was easy for me because i play MMOs alone. But i know of people who have specific groups and they don’t feel good doing things without them. Specially people who have any sort of disability or social impairment, and these people exist. Diminishing them with shallow concepts of “they don’t care” is pretty reductive.

None of this is me saying that people who stay aren’t at least wishfully thinking things are different. A lot of them will find hard to adapt, and may stay. I don’t want to judge them but i will, because the situation here is way more complicated than that. Doesn’t mean they’re bad people, but it may mean they end up putting their own self-preservation in front of what happened inside the company, and that’s a pretty tense ground to walk.

All that being said? Target your hatred at Blizzard. There will be people leaving on the next days and weeks, and that’s all you can ask for them. But they need time to prepare, or they need to still digest what’s happening. It’s not easy, it’s not quick, and they’re not monsters just because your sense of urgency is tingling. Shit already happened. We all were too late to stop it. Let people process it first and then take their decisions. Wait a bit.

Stop throwing your punches at people on your level just because it’s easier to hit. Revolutions are always about punching up, and it’s supposed to be hard to connect. Realize who the real enemies are, and stop being petty to people who are your allies and just disagree with the methods. We all want the same thing here.

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Utakata

Hear, hear!

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Paragon Lost

Good post Bruno, summing up how we should approach and feel about this. Save me taking the time to read through a 100 posts to catch up on what was posted from when I last read the article.

Blizzard made it damn easy for me to quit at the time of the new expansions release. This current crap just made it easier for me to cement my desire to never return. Focus on Blizzard folks, Bruno nailed it.

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Bruno Brito

Personally, i can understand the radicalism. I’m having a really hard time trying to find the nuances myself. I had an artist saying this in my Twitter TL: “It’s ok if you don’t unsub as long as you understand what’s happening.”

And i’m struggling a LOT to accept that. Because yeah, it takes time. But we all know where this money will go, and we all do NOT want Blizzard going full strongarming everything with their resources.

It’s complicated. People are complicated. I hope everyone is able to find new pastures so this excuse for a corporation can hang. However long it takes.

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IronSalamander8 .

Well Said.

Some artists I follow on Twitter are very upset and a lot or all of their work is based on WoW, so this has been rough on them.

George Carlin also always told people to punch up and not down, it’s key to getting things right in situations like this.

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Bruno Brito

As much as i love Carlin, i think people will always benefit of following ideas, not personalities. Carlin was amazing for certain prospects and audience but he had a lot of flaws.

I think he got right on the concept of leaving people alone. He clearly knew who had the power and who hadn’t. He was pretty vocal about the people causing damage ( those at the top ) while others got mad at things like Pride because they’re dipshits. He was completely correct when he said that bankers were worse than anyone.

I think he should be criticized on his view of humanity as a whole. I get his point, but he sometimes got really near quasi-eugenics. Carlin was too much into the “soft people/hard people” for my taste, and i disagree with that concept. There’s nothing wrong with needing help. There’s nothing wrong with trusting too much. There’s nothing wrong with wanting to connect with your fellows on more solid terms. Not being worthy of trust is not a human issue, it’s a personal issue.

The way i see it, i’m strong to help people who aren’t. I can stand to cover for those who are kneeling. To be able to help others and make them stronger by showing them they’re not fated to fail just because they’re minorities or different is to yield true valor.

But on punching up? Carlin was an absolute treasure. Wherever he is, i hope he’s cheering for us.

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jealouspirate

Excellent comment.

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Bruno Brito

Just because we disagree a lot, doesn’t mean i don’t love you <3

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Ashfyn Ninegold

Great post, Bruno. Thanks for putting this all together.

One content creator for WoW commented that even if they want to stop doing WoW content, Twitch and YouTube algorithms make it extremely difficult to do so. And be successful, I assume they meant. And as you point out, for many people, it’s their livelihood.

I imagine, being wholly ignorant of what being a content creator entails, that over time and a mix of content, one might influence the God Algorithm without endangering food on the table.

I sincerely hope that’s possible for those who truly don’t want to do Blizz content anymore and may feel trapped.

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Reginald Atkins

Quit WoW ages ago and overwatch didn’t interest me. Only thing I’ve played is Diablo III and I haven’t played that in.. a year… maybe more, finished it many times. I was thinking about getting Diablo IV but now, don’t think so.

it may not change the world, but I’ll personally feel better about my corner of it. That’ll have to do.

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jealouspirate

As for whether to continue playing Blizzard games or not, it’s complicated. I think it’s wrong to say that anyone who continues to play Blizzard games “doesn’t care” about what happened, is somehow morally bankrupt, or supports harassment. It’s like accusing someone of not caring about human rights and having blood on their hands if they own a smartphone, because of the poor precious metals mining practices. Or that they’re in favor of slave labor because their clothes were made in a sweat shop in Bangladesh. Or that they don’t care about climate change because they took a flight for vacation. All of those things are oversimplifications.

To what degree can you separate art/work/a product from the person who made it? Especially from a group of people? It’s an interesting discussion. In my personal life, I’ve learned that some people I greatly admired professionally are actually terrible people. People who are incredible researchers/scientists who add tremendous value to their field, but are totals pieces of shit. How do you treat their work?

I’m Canadian, and in some ways we’re dealing with this question as a country right now. The nation is trying to come to terms with past and current injustices committed against our indigenous peoples. Some people try to downplay these problems, saying Canada is a great country and should be praised. Some people look at these injustices and say Canada is a terrible country and being proud of your country is wrong. I think ultimately we need to be able to have both co-existing. Canada can be both great and terrible at the same time in different ways, and there’s nuance there.

WoW is a game made by hundreds of people over decades, and played by millions. To what degree do these piece of shit abusers get to define it? To what degree do these abusers get to define my experience of WoW, and how I spend my time? I don’t know.

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Sleepy

It’s not an exact analogy though. A smartphone is basically a necessity now, and it’s practically impossible to find one that doesn’t involve exploitative practices at some point in the manufacturing processes. There’s a whole framework of inequality and injustice that needs untangling and it’s genuinely outside the power of most individuals to make a statement about the whole horrible mess by using or withholding their money.

An MMO isn’t in quite the same league. You can easily find an alternative that isn’t created by a company that drives its employees to suicide. You can stop using it and you won’t be significantly inconvenienced. You’re not powerless. And you can convince other people to do the same.

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jealouspirate

I definitely see what you’re saying, and I don’t think you’re wrong. Unfortunately the entire AAA gaming industry is rife with exploitative practices and problems. Employees being chronically underpaid, being taken advantage of, mandatory crunch, systemic misogyny and racism. It’s a fact that these are problems that exist to varying degrees across the industry.

You could then argue that since video games aren’t a necessity, the ethical choice would be to not play them at all. Or to only limit your consumption to indie devs you know and trust. And maybe that argument is correct. I think as Uta said, we need to give people space in how they prioritize what they’re taking a stand against and what form that stand will take. You’re not powerless with all these other things either, it’s just that most people aren’t willing to sacrifice creature comforts and lower costs.

(For the smartphone example, you can buy exclusively pre-owned phones in order to have a net neutral affect on production, for example. But smartphones is just one of endless categories of examples)

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Utakata

The unpopular opinion here is that peeps should be allowed to protest this in their ways. As a divisive community over this matter is the real win for Acti/Blizz, since the focus is on what everyone else is doing instead of the offenders. So there is no point at going at each other over the “right way” to protest.

That said, I agree with the OP here that this will take time for everyone who is concerned here to work this out. Don’t expect sub cancellations to happen over night. And Rome didn’t fall in a day…

I do believe however, that this either way will have significant effect on Blizz’s bottom line. Their reputation is the shits right now. And there might be more folks that will leave their games over this and than those that stay on. That’s gotta hurt.

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Utakata

PS/Update: See Mr. Eliot’s well written piece explaining the latter part here…

WoW Factor: No king rules forever

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SmiteDoctor

I can’t square it my self personally, when you’ve got the state going after you that’s a bit bigger than the case against some one like Bill Cosby.

Way I see it, I used to listen to Manson but after everything came out regarding him I thought to my self how could I blast this in my car, what kind of image does that put out about me personally.

Now with WoW the best case you’re looked at as a guy that supports an office culture reminiscent of Wolf of Wall Street. Worse case you’re the guy playing games made by company that swept a suicide under the rug caused by sexual coercion and revenge porn.

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Utakata

I doubt your personal crusade here will speed up the process of Acti/Blizz inevitability. I’d say, sit back and enjoy watching Rome burn. And break out the champagne of schadenfreude after the fact.

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SmiteDoctor

It’s not a personal crusade, it’s just my personal breaking point. Any one that wants to keep playing Blizzard games that’s them man, I’m not going to brow beat people into quitting. That said I’m not going to sugar coat the info around them either. You do you, it’s your free time, your life, etc etc; I dont look down on you or other Blizzard fans, everyone has their rock bottom, this was just it for me.

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Utakata

Then I’m glad to hear that then. /bows

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SmiteDoctor

I may be an asshole Utakata, you are one of the people I heart around here (platonically of course, or like one of my favorite Nords to argue with over some great Mead).

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Utakata

The pigtails appreciate that …I thinks. o.O