Blizzard workers address the drawbacks of boycotts, gamers lament WoW’s deep decline

    
116
Torgy torgy

Ever since California filed a sexual harassment and discrimination lawsuit against Activision-Blizzard in July, the industry has been appalled, but it’s also been squabbling over what exactly to do. And as the word “boycott” has floated up into our field of view as one option, some Blizzard staffers have agitated against it. Axios has a piece up this week speaking to multiple Blizzard staffers who have said they don’t necessarily want gamers to boycott the company.

“Some Activision Blizzard employees tell Axios that boycotts may do more harm than good. A current employee says that while they understand the reasoning behind it — losing money will catch the eye of executives and shareholders, forcing them to take action — it doesn’t actually work that way. ‘It’s harmful [to] the people who work there, who pour their lives into the game and are determined to make AB studios (and all game studios frankly) better places,’ they said. ‘We can’t fix these problems if we’re unemployed and we can’t elevate women if we’re boycotting all of the work they’ve done and are doing.'”

Another noted that boycotts may not even be effective anyway, and if they were, they’re “more likely to result in layoffs on the dev teams than any change in opinion or composition at the top.” Of course, as we’ve argued, asking ethical consumers to continue paying into a company that has allowed an abusive culture to flourish is also a problem, particularly when the company has laid off and abused workers for years regardless of how well the games have performed, which is why it might be better to find ways to support the workers who are trying to organize from the ground up.

But the current mood in the World of Warcraft community is dismal right now anyway, to the point that a boycott may be superfluous; a heavily upvoted and award-laden thread on the game’s subreddit details perceived reasons behind the deep decline of the game and how to save it. Good luck with that, folks.

Blizzard, the ripcord is in your hand. We know you see the community feedback. Please, just hear us out. from wow

Further reading:

Advertisement

No posts to display

116
LEAVE A COMMENT

Please Login to comment
  Subscribe  
newest oldest most liked
Subscribe to:
Reader
Josh

Sorry but I hate this guilt tripping horse shit.

A woman is dead, D E A D and this company is directly responsible.

I cannot, I will not continue to fund Blizzard’s abject evil just because a handful of employees asked me to.

Reader
Kickstarter Donor
Richard de Leon III

I didnt stop playing wow because of the scandal. I stopped because of the idiotic gameplay design choices. The resetting systems, lack of permaneny new powers/spells/talents, disregard for solo gear progression, no housing, predictable storyline just to name a few. The current devs carried these problems over since WOD like its some sort of achievment or trophy so im taking my money elsewhere.

Reader
Harbinger_Kyleran

The smart move would be for Activision to spin off or sell Blizzard outright to Tencent or similar.

Reader
Bannex

Please don’t sell to Tenecent. If you think a CCP corporation treats women better you’re crazy.

Reader
Douglas Lawson

Does this mean that Blizzard is the WoW Killer that we’ve been waiting for!? :D

Jokerchyld
Reader
Jokerchyld

Finally Blizzard is forced to continue based on their CONTENT versus their BRAND. For far too long they have been releasing mediocre content at best, but expected people to “deal” with it because they were Blizzard and you remembered Classic and Wrath.

Now with 10.0 or whatever they plan to do, they either go back to the well and develop creative, quality content or go the way of the dodo (in their case being moved into the obscurity of other nameless developers who are still there, but we just dont talk about as much).

The latter will hurt far more than the former.

Reader
Nate Woodard

I smell freemium services on the horizon.

Reader
traja

It’s not entirely clear to me that firing WoW developers would be the immediate result of a successful boycott. That would affect future content releases and lead to even more players leaving. Instead if you focus more on Cash Shop offerings and incentives to buy gold with Tokens you cover for the lost players without compromising future content.

Now of course I don’t actually believe that boycotts work on this scale. If they did I am sure that market analysts would have predicted it and it would show on ActiBlizz stock. Still telling people to keep spending even if they don’t want to only enforces the status quo.

Reader
Kickstarter Donor
Patreon Donor
Loyal Patron
zoward

There seems to be some confusion between “boycotting” and “walking away”. Boycotting is withholding support until you see a desired change. Many of the people I’m seeing are just walking away disgusted with no intention of returning change or not.

Reader
SmiteDoctor

If they change, which I doubt, then I might come back. How ever I don’t think I’d even try to come back until seeing whether they learn their lessons a year into WoW’s next expansion, and Diablo 4’s launch with design philosophy, while seeing them keeping their nose clean for the next 2 to 3 years. If they can slam dunk all of my concerns in the next 2 to 3 years, then I’ll come back.

Reader
Sarah Cushaway

I feel for those devs, but I will not support Blizzard after all they have done.

Reader
Kickstarter Donor
Peregrine Falcon

While it’s true that a successful boycott of the company will result in the rank-and-file being fired, the fact is that those people had years to leave Blizzard and get a job at a more ethical company.

They chose to stay, so clearly they weren’t concerned enough about what was going on to say or do anything. But now that their own jobs are threatened now, all of a sudden, they want to talk to the fans about this issue.

I have no sympathy for them. And I don’t believe you should either.

Reader
styopa

“I have no sympathy for them. And I don’t believe you should either.”

You feel that way about the women that work there too? The ones who apparently needed the gig badly enough they’d stay? (And the same goes, to a lesser degree to men who stayed for maybe the same reason.)

Lot of very dogmatic moralists around here.

Reader
Kickstarter Donor
Peregrine Falcon

I have a lot of sympathy for those people, men or women, who were victimized.

Who I don’t have sympathy for is the people, as I already said, who knew about this, decided to stay anyway, said nothing for years, and only now that their jobs might be in jeopardy are suddenly speaking out and asking us to not boycott Blizzard.

And don’t give me this “they had to stay.” They had years to find employment at another company.

Jokerchyld
Reader
Jokerchyld

I believe we have sympathy for the people who work there. We aren’t robots. But when the tree is rotten the leaves are going to fall… no matter if they want to stay there or not.

That is to say I feel bad for the people who need this work for a paycheck, but if that is their actual concern it would make more sense to do it somewhere else where there is less risk of them losing their job anyway.

The writing is on the wall…

Reader
Bruno Brito

Finding work is hard. It’s a pity.

Reader
Sarah Cushaway

I think some deserve sympathy, but likely not all. I do have to wonder, in an economy that’s absolutely booming ATM, why one would choose to stay at such a scummy company unless there was absolutely no other choice at all.

Reader
Kickstarter Donor
Kayweg

The rank-and-file will be fired regardless if it’s economical opportune.
We’ve seen substantial layoffs after very successful launches often enough.
That argument is just another variant of the “trickle down economy” as far as i’m concerned, and i’m not buying it.
The last money AB saw from me was when Diablo 3 launched in 2008.
I intend to keep it that way.

Reader
Kickstarter Donor
Patreon Donor
Loyal Patron
Alex Willis

Capitalism forces all kinds of false ethical dilemmas on consumers. This is a good example. It’s all hand-waving, though. There’s only one clear choice here. It doesn’t mean you’re an abuser, even by extension, for continuing to support Blizzard. But don’t lie to yourself and say you’re paying to keep devs employed. If that is how you measure the situation, you might need to take a few courses on moral philosophy.

The ethics of boycotts can be murky. In a capitalist society, the flow of money is still used to characterize the non-zero sum game of ethical benefit: who is or is not “good” will in part be determined by who benefits financially. This obfuscation of civic behaviour gives rise to the kind of conundrum that we see in this argument: do you either boycott and deprive hard-working junior employees of work, or keep paying and compromise yourself by funneling money to the abusers? It is a bit of a false dilemma.

“Who gettin’ paid?” is only a useful question if there’s no abuse or crime happening. (For example: are senior devs paid *MORE* than junior employees, and by what margin, and why? Boycotting Blizzard because of pay disparity would not be a productive way to approach this situation.) But there was unethical behaviour, and potentially crime happening. You cannot suborn the perpetuation of unethical or criminal activity because people alongside the perpetrators have jobs. That makes you complicit in that activity.

This is asking too much of the consumer to navigate. Consumer boycotts are the closest thing they have to “democratic” power in the illusory town square of capitalism. Boycotts are blunt instruments, but they can be very effective and don’t need to be forever. They can be used tactically, like canceling a subscription, but continuing to play using other forms. Simply making an active decision to affect the bottom line of an organization is a step in the right direction.

Reader
Bruno Brito

I missed you.

Reader
Kickstarter Donor
Patreon Donor
Loyal Patron
Alex Willis

comment image

Reader
Bruno Brito

As for your post, i concur with what you said. A lot of “cancel culture outrage” is mostly just a group of people being angry at a specific thing and voting with their wallets and opinions. But in the age of internet, social media and reputations, the consumer has a lot of power nowadays so these kind of massified movements are particularly harmful to companies and employers as a whole.

Capitalism is terrified of organization. The more divided people are, the better they hold the reins. This is why most ascending is done by competition instead of cooperation. It’s also why leaders are paid more than rank-and-file even thought the backbone of all corporations are the most humble of workers and they bear the brunt of production.

Reader
styopa

“It’s also why leaders are paid more than rank-and-file even thought the backbone of all corporations are the most humble of workers and they bear the brunt of production.”

…I mean, aside from logical fundamentals of economics and perceptions of employee replaceability.

comment image

Reader
Bruno Brito

?

Reader
Kickstarter Donor
Patreon Donor
Loyal Patron
Alex Willis

Yeah I’ve got nothing.

Reader
Bruno Brito

So, funny thing:

https://www.businessinsider.com/american-worker-less-vacation-medieval-peasant-2016-11

This is an article by business insider that pretty much says that peasants in the dark ages worked less than the average american. Which is quite telling to anyone who wants to debate “capitalism theory”.

I’m rather fond of “capitalistic reality” myself.

Reader
SmiteDoctor

If there’s one thing we’ve learned over the years, even when we spend money on Blizz and make them profitable that doesn’t mean they won’t lay off developers to pad their numbers.

Reader
Bruno Brito

Which is something i really would like people to remember before god-fying Kotick “He BrOuGhT AcTiViSiOn FrOm ThE BoTtOm Of BaNkRuPcY”.

He did it by half-measures. He keeps doing it by half-measures. It’s not sustainable.

Reader
Arktouros

This is a common misconception.

The bulk of the layoff news that we’ve heard about Blizzard over the years has not been developer related. If you read the details of each story such as all the outrage over Kotik’s huge bonus while laying people off none of those layoffs were developers. They lay off Customer Service staff and largely public function staff (think people hired to work conventions or hosting live events and such). Public function staff are obviously redundant in an era where Covid cancels most public funcitons. Most customer service staff a lot of businesses dial back on and fire because they can be replaced with (admittedly poor) automation or cheaper staff elsewhere (oversea workers).

However true economic struggle would really let them afford to get in there and really hack away at Blizzard and the way it’s run at a developer level. I mean they’ve already replaced a traditionally Blizzard position with Brack to two outsiders. From there they can really clean house and potentially resize/hack away at developers that push back on Activision goals and objectives that we’ve heard from Blizzard employees that they face. The more they struggle the more Activision can reign in and really just gut the place properly which previously they couldn’t really do because of Blizzard’s success.

Jokerchyld
Reader
Jokerchyld

Please stop calling this is a capitalist society. Its a corrupt society. The rules are not fair. The pay is not even and your worth is not based on your merit. Its a dog eat dog country where everyone scrambles to get on top so they don’t sink.

This is plain an simple desire. If you love Blizzard games you more than likely arent going to boycott. And those supporting the company (because you are definitely not supporting the workers since 90% of the income you give goes to executive management) are in effect supporting the culture they are just too weak or afraid to admit it… because they like the game.

Corporations know this. And the balance is to give consumers just enough to be content so they look the other way when the bad stuff comes out (if it comes out).

I hope Blizzard goes under.. Just like Bearn Sterns. Just like Lehman Bros. Just like AIG. And all the other “too big too fail” corrupt corporations that try to survive without putting in the work to give quality service.

Reader
Bruno Brito

Please stop calling this is a capitalist society. Its a corrupt society. The rules are not fair. The pay is not even and your worth is not based on your merit. Its a dog eat dog country where everyone scrambles to get on top so they don’t sink.

I don’t think capitalism was ever conceived as fair. I can be wrong thought, but if we’re going by theory, then capitalistic theory of fairness can be put on the same level of socialistic theory, which is pretty utopic.

Also, being honest with you, the entire concept of free market and minimal state is “dog-eat-dog”.

Reader
Armsman

Yep anyone who defines/believes that “Capitalism” was conceived in any way to be a “fair” system needs to take some history courses in business.

Jokerchyld
Reader
Jokerchyld

Fair in the sense it supposed to be based on merit. I know a lot of shitty people with no skills holding positions they shouldn’t have. In a true capitalistic society that person would have been removed or replaced.

Reader
Bruno Brito

What makes you think you don’t have a true capitalistic society?

In capitalism, those with money have power. That’s all they need to have to be merited. Kings and Queens weren’t worthy of their power but they were powerful all the same. Merit is a subjective point of view.

The concept of theoretical capitalism is as much dream-like as socialism is.

Reader
SmiteDoctor

Nope that’s capitalism for you, there was only one brief period where we had a strong middle class in the US and that was post WW2 to 1980s, the only reason that happened was because the US had the only intact Industrial infrastructure and it took decades for Europe and Japan to bounce back. Then we had to become more global with our economy with treaties involving trade and manufacturing to keep the economy as stable as possible to attemo avoiding major economic upsets (notice I said attempt).

Even now as shitty as things are for the average US citizen you’ve got to realize that is only in comparison to that unprecedented period of time after WW2, the only thing that would bring that back would be another massive war that would devastate multiple nations and kill millions of people.

Theres this nifty concept History and Anthropology called Malhthusian Cycles (probably fucked that spelling up sorry) it tracks 250 years cycles that see societies move from periods of prosperity/stability to periods of collapse/economic stagnation, for example we had one cycle end during the Black Death, after that there was a strong peasant class that could name their price.for labor and you had the birth of the renaissance.

This is neat video that touches on what I said a little and attempts to predict the crisises we will face soon.