Casually Classic: Making the call to quit WoW or not

    
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A week ago I didn’t think I’d be sitting here and writing this, but I’m done with WoW Classic — and with this column.

As you’ve no doubt read, last Wednesday highly disturbing allegations of company-wide abuse and discrimination came to light as the state of California filed a lawsuit against Activision-Blizzard. Considering how intensive this two-year investigation was, how nobody but Blizzard PR is denying that this happened, and how many current and former employees have since piped up to confirm this wicked culture, there’s no reason to doubt that this studio’s been up to some really vile stuff while suppressing it.

While the heaviest tragedy and the due focal point of this story needs to be on justice for the victims and a top-down reform of Blizzard, this changes a whole lot for the people who cover Blizzard’s games and enjoy these virtual worlds. Every player now has to answer this question for him or herself: Can I continue to game with a clear conscience, knowing what I now do about the studio?

It’s not as easy a question to answer as it might first appear. You have to consider that it’s not the players’ fault that Blizzard was horrible to its employees. You have to look at all of the established communities and social ties that people depend upon for friendship and connections. You have to take into account all of the sheer effort and time that people have put into their characters — and how much passion and interest they’ve invested into these games.

For some, this might be a no-brainer to walk away, wish that Blizzard would burn to the ground, and expect everyone else to do likewise. And since internet and gaming culture is as it is, they might be absolutely harsh to anyone who doesn’t fall into line with that thinking.

Yet for others, this might be tearing them apart from conflicting feelings and desires. They may even push back against others demanding that they quit, triggering an unnecessary player vs. player conflict.

What I’m saying is that this decision not something to trivialize because this situation is sending shockwaves out to every corner of the WoW and WoW Classic community. Players and guilds have to make the call to stay, take a leave of absence, or quit. I’ve read a whole lot of rationalization for all of these decisions over the past few days, and you know what? A lot of them are valid.

I can see why people will choose to stay: because they don’t want to abandon their communities or stop supporting the honestly innocent Blizzard devs and artists who make a living from this. They are championing reform and want to be part of the culture and voice that keeps the pressure on Blizz to do that.

Personally, at this point I can’t look at Blizzard in the eye and say, “I’m going to keep giving my money, time, and column coverage to you.” I love these games, I cherish the friendships I’ve made in them, but… yeah. It’s over. I can’t in good conscience keep playing. Blizzard as an overall institution failed its employees — and the trust of us players — and I can’t support that.

And that stinks. I was really looking forward to playing through Burning Crusade Classic and Wrath Classic and writing up these fluffy little columns for this journey. I’ve poured so, so many hours into my Gnome and Draenei that are now being tossed aside. For the first time since 2004, I no longer have World of Warcraft installed on my computer, and I feel more than a little naked for it.

Then again, it feels like the right thing to do in this situation. There are more worlds than these, as the Stephen King phrase goes, and while other studios aren’t clean either, I can play there without feeling like I’m handing my money to abusers and corporate cowards.

For this situation, I’ll be rooting for justice to prevail, for the abused to experience healing and vindication, and for Blizzard to jettison its leadership in favor of men and women of integrity. No less than a top-down cleaning of house and a full audit of all accusations and reports is acceptable.

I’ll be increasing coverage of other games I play, but for Casually Classic, I’m signing off. Thank you for reading during this past year.

Further reading:

Stepping back into the MMO time machine of WoW Classic, Justin Olivetti offers up observations and ground-level analysis as a Gnome with a view. Casually Classic is a more laid-back look at this legacy ruleset for those of us who’ve never stepped into a raid or seen more than 200 gold to our names.
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Turing fail
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Turing fail

Nuanced, intelligent, compassionate.

Alyn
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Alyn

“Personally, at this point I can’t look at Blizzard in the eye and say, “I’m going to keep giving my money, time, and column coverage to you.” I love these games, I cherish the friendships I’ve made in them, but… yeah. It’s over. I can’t in good conscience keep playing. Blizzard as an overall institution failed its employees — and the trust of us players — and I can’t support that.”- Justin Olivetti

This, for me, says it all and just about copies my feelings as well, Justin. Breaking up is never an easy experience to endure. We have our memories though of better times and friendlier circumstances.

World of Warcraft will still be a record breaker in my book. Many, if not most of us experience at least some time in this mmorpg. Today it feels as though it is less about RPG and more about profits and forcing the consumer to “lump it” and “play what we are proud of because we know best what and how you should play”

I feel your pain and support your idea of playing by the rules and upholding a positive code of conduct not only for we, the consumers, but also those executives with the “high dollar” contracts. This a statement I can really agree with;

“The best way to help your consumers with your business is to treat your employees right so they give better customer service, empower them so they can provide faster solutions, and to treat your vendors and partners fairly and with respect so they can continually provide the best product and services to their ability. – Strong by Kailin Gow”
― Kailin Gow

Jokerchyld
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Jokerchyld

This isn’t our first rodeo everybody already knows how it will play because the scenario is the same. People can easily separate the art from the person/company. Which is why you have people like R Kelly and Bill Cosby being cacelled yet people still buy his albums listen to his music and watch the Cosby show. Michael Jackson was interesting because he wasn’t fully cancelled.. but probably because he a catalog of massive hits people just arent going to stop listening to. Harvey Weinstein the list goes on.

What I do see as a positive note is at least now people are talking about and enough people are making conscious choices to force the change.

Money is a helluva drug.

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aYates

Thanks, Justin, for the great series of articles!
Sad there won’t be more, but I understand.
Hope to see you writing about New World since I’ll be there at launch.

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Scorp Gang

It may seem easy to stop but the stopping will more than likely have to occur naturally. For instance, the faces of the core Group changing.

That’s how it was for me. We were together for 5 years. Then life started to happen and people started to be unrecognizable.

I actually quit when I got a New Job that actually gave me more time to play WoW. Between the Core changing and my New Job(Which I’m still at 10 years later) paying me more money which, allowed me to get a better PC, quitting WoW wasn’t so bad. Especially when you look at all the great AAA releases that happened from 2011 to 2014.

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Lucky Jinx

I just renewed my 6 month subscription, so I will keep playing. In all honesty, I probably would have anyway. It’s my chosen entertainment right now. It’s terrible what happens behind the scenes, and Blizzard is not the only company to have this, they’re just the one on “shit stand” right now. Until an MMO appears that draws my interest away from WoW, I’ll keep playing. I hope these matters could be solved without dragging players into it, but I get it– money talks louder than words.

Jokerchyld
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Jokerchyld

Have fun in 9.1. Who knows when 9.2 will ever come given the already late schedule is now stopped.

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Utakata

Thank you for your contribution to this column. It’s all very much appreciated. /bows

…meanwhile because of Blizz ‘s behavior is why we can not longer have nice things. /sigh

Stefan
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Stefan

Perhaps if the message is heard louder when people voice their concerns through this way it can be quantified and it might be taken more serious.

You see a lot of people starting to take a step back, but perhaps i am an naive idealist in hoping that this will bring forth a change at the top. But i do believe if the bottom line is not impacted, the top will not budge at all

I personally left before this came to pass and even looking pure at game design choices, in particular how they tend to value your money more than your time spend in game, especially now that classic appears to have found a datamined token, i find i made the right choice months ago.

Hopefully they turn things around as i do think with the right people in charge, products like Heroes of the Storm and Overwatch can flourish, so long they do not force everything down a path of E-sports first, fun second.

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Arktouros

I think it’s pretty easy to abandon most of what Blizzard has going at this point. Unless you’re super established in some community none of their games are very fresh or compelling. Classic ran out of content and launched TBC which doesn’t hold the same nostalgia as the original. Shadowlands updates were badly received? Overwatch is in between their big update. Diablo 3 is recycling “seasons.” War3 Reforged was…unfortunate. There’s not much to really point to and think “I can’t miss being a part of that.” So when the latest scandal rolls along against them walking away I think that is a real easy decision.

The question is going to be is if they get a product that is worth playing and you don’t want to miss being a part of it how strong do people’s convictions hold up? On past reflection, past incidents have shown not very strong at all.

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Utakata

Yep. Blizz products where already going up in smoke. And now these harassment revelations just added a crap ton of gasoline to it. The rate this is going, this will be a dumpster fire the size of the State of Oregon.

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Bryan Correll

fire the size of the State of Oregon.

That’s what Oregon gets for standing so close to California.

Reader
Utakata

:(

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Arktouros

And that reported environment along with previous depaturures likely means that what most people found intriguing or compelling about Blizzard games is a lot harder for them to replicate…

…but man if Diablo 4 is a banger game now all of a sudden people gotta choose between giving up their own entertainment and good times to show solidarity with people suffering in a bad situation. Easy to show solidarity when it costs you nothing and I think past series of events (even with Acti Blizzard) has shown that.

Reader
Utakata

To which the author has pointed out is neither right or wrong in what players will do about it at this point. But I agree, the credibility is taking a big hit…which is likely turning into a bleed off to the Blizz bottom line.

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Arktouros

I just find it all incredibly ironic.

Acti Blizz is full of big statements regarding inclusiveness and “every voice matters” then here we have a big old scandal that shows all that is just empty words they speak. It’s all just convenient words they speak because it costs them nothing to speak them. Word service.

In turn that scandal goes public, they’re found out, and the customers also in turn speak their convenient words because again it costs them nothing. Then when it will cost them something, well the past has shown all is forgotten. Again even more word service.

It chafes when you know such moral outrage for most will crumble at the slightest test of their convictions.

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Utakata

What I find amazing is people are still surprised by this. As I said from the beginning of this…

“Putting all the ‘virtue signalling’ troll nonsense aside, it’s natural for any company to branch out to a wider target audience to pad their bottom line, unless they’re something like Chick-Fil-A. It does not and never guarantees that they will equally be this receptive and inclusive to their staff. Which really should not come as a surprise to anyone.”

Source: https://massivelyop.com/2021/07/21/california-sues-activision-blizzard-over-discrimination-and-sexist-toxic-work-culture/

…and scroll way down the comments again.

Furthermore, what Blizz (or any company) put in their rules of community standards and employee/employer relations, does not mean upper echelons will follow it as long as they know they can get a way with breaking it. In this case, they where caught. So you’re seeing a snapshot of what was really was going on all this time. And while as horrifying and appalling it is, none of this is really shocking.

Too bad they didn’t follow what they’ve been preaching all this time, is all anyone can say at this point regarding this.

Jokerchyld
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Jokerchyld

Probably was the underlying cause for the poor content in the first place. Who puts forth their best creative work under stress? It was a snowball effect.

Why I find interesting is no one seemed to have thought it would catch up to them. Or they thought people wouldn’t notice? Doesn’t make logical sense.

Demon of Razgriz
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Demon of Razgriz

I can see every perspective on players decisions whether to quit or not. However, I have noticed that when public notoriety is coupled with financial loss, “change” happens. As long as they don’t feel it in their pockets, nothing will change internally. You’ll get a few sacrificial lambs. Some wordy new mission statement. Maybe a few token promotions and promises. But the culture will remain the same until a full housecleaning is done. Personally, could never get into WoW because I’m not into fantasy. But, if I was, I’d have quit soon as the allegations first came to light because that’s how my moral compass swings. So I commend you Justinnon taking a stand/stance that aligns with who you are as a person.