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by Published on 2021-07-26 08:22 PM

Update: Uppercut posted an article with an unverified source, claiming that an internal all hands called the email from Frances Townsend an apology and saying that it "wasn’t the right communication".

Blizzard Employee Letter to Leadership
Over 1000 employees signed an letter to the leadership of Activision Blizzard. Polygon shared this letter.
Originally Posted by MMO-Champion
To the Leaders of Activision Blizzard,

We, the undersigned, agree that the statements from Activision Blizzard, Inc. and their legal counsel regarding the DFEH lawsuit, as well as the subsequent internal statement from Frances Townsend, are abhorrent and insulting to all that we believe our company should stand for. To put it clearly and unequivocally, our values as employees are not accurately reflected in the words and actions of our leadership.

We believe these statements have damaged our ongoing quest for equality inside and outside of our industry. Categorizing the claims that have been made as “distorted, and in many cases false” creates a company atmosphere that disbelieves victims. It also casts doubt on our organizations’ ability to hold abusers accountable for their actions and foster a safe environment for victims to come forward in the future. These statements make it clear that our leadership is not putting our values first. Immediate corrections are needed from the highest level of our organization.

Our company executives have claimed that actions will be taken to protect us, but in the face of legal action — and the troubling official responses that followed — we no longer trust that our leaders will place employee safety above their own interests. To claim this is a “truly meritless and irresponsible lawsuit,” while seeing so many current and former employees speak out about their own experiences regarding harassment and abuse, is simply unacceptable.

We call for official statements that recognize the seriousness of these allegations and demonstrate compassion for victims of harassment and assault. We call on Frances Townsend to stand by her word to step down as Executive Sponsor of the ABK Employee Women’s Network as a result of the damaging nature of her statement. We call on the executive leadership team to work with us on new and meaningful efforts that ensure employees — as well as our community — have a safe place to speak out and come forward.

We stand with all our friends, teammates, and colleagues, as well as the members of our dedicated community, who have experienced mistreatment or harassment of any kind. We will not be silenced, we will not stand aside, and we will not give up until the company we love is a workplace we can all feel proud to be a part of again. We will be the change.



Chris Metzen Responds to Lawsuit Allegations
Metzen shared an apology and response on Twitter, with a followup specifically about Alex Afrasiabi.


Originally Posted by MMO-Champion
As for Alex. I loved working with him and jamming in story meetings. He was someone I thought very highly of on the job, but we never interacted outside of story jams and such. I was never his boss. We never really interacted outside of doing the work or taking smoke breaks. We haven’t worked closely together sorry nice WotLK. I never heard a peep about him other than that he could be tough on his team or an asshole from time to time. So learning all this the past week has been just utterly shocking. Just reprehensible shit.



Jeff Hamilton on Upcoming Content Delay
Jeff Hamilton shared that the development team may be taking time to process what is happening with the allegations and lawsuit.
Originally Posted by MMO-Champion
OK. I’m still hopeful my team will make a statement, but Activision’s statement was terrible, so here's what I believe. I know many of my colleagues believe this as well:

I believe all allegations of sexual harassment deserve to be taken seriously and in good faith, and any perpetrators of sexual harassment deserve both removal from the company and criminal investigation.

I believe strongly in equal treatment and equal protection. Regardless of gender or race, everyone deserves a safe and supportive environment in which to work and live.

Our society at large is often not equal, and people with less systemic power due to marginalization need more systemic protection to ensure their fair treatment. It is clear that Human Resources has failed at this systemic protection.

I am viscerally disgusted by the horrible trauma that has been inflicted upon my coworkers, friends, and colleagues.

I find Activision’s corporate response wholly unacceptable. I don't stand by it, any of it. It is evil to usurp a victim’s story into a rhetorical bludgeon, and it is abhorrent to reply to these accusations with anything other than a well-thought-out plan to correct these abuses.

I don’t know what to do. I don’t have all the answers. I can tell you, almost no work is being done on World of Warcraft right now while this obscenity plays out. And that benefits nobody - not the players, not the developers, not the shareholders.

Activision’s response to this is currently taking a group of world-class developers and making them so mad and traumatized they’re rendered unable to keep making a great game.

I deeply love my team. I believe in my coworkers. I have recommended this place as a beacon to people I care deeply about, and in my personal experience, it has been that beacon. But it is DAMNINGLY OBVIOUS that that experience has not been universal. The people who were harmed by abuse - they deserved that experience too.



Alex Klontzas on Upcoming Content Delay
Alex Klontzas shared his thoughts on any delay of upcoming content.



Ghostcrawler Responses to BlizzCon Video
An old video from the BlizzCon 2010 Q&A resurfaced recently, and Ghostcrawler responded, as he was sitting on the panel at the time.
Originally Posted by MMO-Champion
There’s a 10 year old Blizzcon video going around of players doing a Q&A with a panel of devs of which I was a member. Look, it was a shitty answer at the time and it certainly hasn’t aged well. I wish I had said something better then.

You can’t really see the people asking the questions well from the stage, and I feel terrible now seeing the look on her face. I have more experience now answering questions live, but no doubt that won’t be my last shitty answer. I apologize for those as well as for this one.

I think some folks are interpreting my saying I will make mistakes again as some kind of blasé attitude about the situation of women in the gaming industry. That’s my interpretation of their interpretation anyway…

I think devs talking to players is really important. I want to encourage studios to keep doing it. But I know it’s scary for a lot of developers. They are afraid they will say the wrong thing and make players or their company mad. The only way to get better is to do it a lot…

I have been doing it for 23 years plus or minus. I still make mistakes. It happens. Learn from it. Apologize and move on. I hope the lesson that anyone is taking from that Blizzcon video is *not* how risky it is to talk to the community…

I was talking internally to Riot the other day and I was trying to compliment a team and ended up insulting them instead. I felt like shit for a couple of days. It happens…

I was only talking about the video, and really only because tha_rami brought it up, and I respect the hell out of him. I wasn’t trying to call whatever happened at Blizzard an accident. I hope I didn’t contribute to that and I even hope I made the culture a little better…

I’m not trying to speak for Blizzard and I’m certainly not trying to speak for the women or POCs at Blizzard. I do believe men in leadership roles have a responsibility, a duty, to make sure women and other marginalized folks feel welcome, happy, and successful at our studios…

I mean really all men at a studio do, but especially the leaders of the studio. I take that very seriously at Riot, and we have worked very hard to make our company a better place to work…

As I have said, I think we are doing well, but it’s a long journey, and it won’t be me but the women of Riot who ultimately decide if succeeded or not…

I find the video embarrassing and I apologize to the player who asked the question and all others who were disappointed with our “answer.” I think there are more important voices that we need to hear right now. But the video can be a reminder that we can be better.

GC out

Hmmm.... by comparison to other MMO's, especially Eastern MMO's, WoW has been very reasonable in its depiction of female characters. I have never sensed WoW has oversexualized any of its characters. Blizz has problems but this isn't one of them.
For me, the issue is the way we answered not the actual topic (Source)
by Published on 2021-07-24 05:53 AM

Mike Morhaime Response to Blizzard Lawsuit
Mike Morhaime posted a response to the Blizzard lawsuit. He stepped down from his position at Blizzard in 2018.
Originally Posted by MMO-Champion
I have read the full complaint against Activision Blizzard and many of the other stories. It is all very disturbing and difficult to read. I am ashamed. It feels like everything I thought I stood for has been washed away. What’s worse but even more important, real people have been harmed, and some women had terrible experiences.

I was at Blizzard for 28 years. During that time, I tried very hard to create an environment that was safe and welcoming for people of all genders and backgrounds. I knew that it was not perfect, but clearly we were far from that goal. The fact that so many women were mistreated and were not supported means we let them down. In addition, we did not succeed in making it feel safe for people to tell their truth. It is no consolation that other companies have faced similar challenges. I wanted us to be different, better.

Harassment and discrimination exist. They are prevalent in our industry. It is the responsibility of leadership to keep all employees feeling safe, supported, and treated equitably, regardless of gender and background. It is the responsibility of leadership to stamp out toxicity and harassment in any form, across all levels of the company. To the Blizzard women who experienced any of these things, I am extremely sorry that I failed you.

I realize that these are just words, but I wanted to acknowledge the women who had awful experiences. I hear you, I believe you, and I am so sorry to have let you down. I want to hear your stories, if you are willing to share them. As a leader in our industry, I can and will use my influence to help drive positive change and to combat misogyny, discrimination, and harassment wherever I can. I believe we can do better, and I believe the gaming industry can be a place where women and minorities are welcomed, included, supported, recognized, rewarded, and ultimately unimpeded from the opportunity to make the types of contributions that all of us join this industry to make. I want the mark I leave on this industry to be something that we can all be proud of.

-Mike
by Published on 2021-07-23 07:24 PM

Update: Added Frances Townsend's statement on the lawsuit.

J. Allen Brack's Internal Email to Blizzard Staff
Blizzard President J. Allen Brack has sent out an internal email to Blizzard staff, in which he addresses the allegations from the lawsuit filed by the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing. Here's a copy of the email, as reported by Jason Schreier.
Originally Posted by J. Allen Brack
Hello Blizzard -

I personally have a lot of emotions coming out of yesterday, and I know you do, too. The allegations and the hurt of current and former employees are extremely troubling.

I know many of you would like to receive more clarity. While I can't comment on the specifics of the case as it's an open investigation, what I can say is that the behavior detailed in the allegations is completely unacceptable.

  • It goes - with saying - it is completely unacceptable for anyone in the company to face discrimination or harassment.
  • It goes - with saying - that everyone should feel safe working here, whether we are on campus, at BlizzCon, or working from home.
  • It goes - with saying - it takes courage to come forward, and all claims brought to the company are investigated by internal and (when needed) external investigators. We take these claims very seriously. Claims can be made without fear of retaliation, and many times, I attend to them personally, along with our other leaders.

Stepping back - when I talked with Bobby about taking this job, one of the first things I mentioned was a revered saint of the Brack household - Gloria Steinem. Growing up, the value of women as equals, understanding the work that had been done for equal treatment, and the fact that there was still much to do, were common themes. This is just one of the reasons why the fight for equality is incredibly important to me. People with different backgrounds, views, and experiences are essential for Blizzard, our team, and our player community. I disdain "bro culture," and have spent my career fighting against it.

Iterating on our culture with the same intensity that we bring to our games is imperative, with our values acting as our north star. This is some of the most important work we do, both as professionals and human beings.

A company is more than a legal construct that exists as a piece of paper in a filing cabinet in Delaware. The people that work at the company make it what it is, through their actions and creations. Each of us plays a role in maintaining a place of safety for one other. And it is also up to each of us to continue to craft the Blizzard we want - and commit to doing our part in keeping Blizzard great but always aspiring for more.

The leadership team and I will be meeting with many of you to answer questions and discuss how we can move forward. In the meantime, I want you to know that you can talk to any manager, any HR partner, any member of the legal team, or to any one on the executive team [including, Hey J]. If you feel more comfortable talking to someone outside Blizzard, or prefer to be anonymous, you can contact the Way2Play Integrity Line.

I feel angry, sad, and a host of other emotions, but I also feel grateful to work alongside a set of leaders and thousands of employees who join me in their commitment to continuous improvement.

Thank you Blizzard.

JAB



Edit: Frances Townsend has also sent an internal email.
Originally Posted by Frances Townsend
Everyone,

As the Executive Sponsor of the ABK Employee Women's Network and our Chief Compliance Officer, I wanted to reach out to you. I know this has been difficult for many of us. A recently filed lawsuit presented a distorted and untrue picture of our company, including factually incorrect, old, and out of context stories — some from more than a decade ago.

The Activision companies of today, the Activision companies that I know, are great companies with good values. When I joined the Executive Leadership Team, I was certain that I was joining a company where I would be valued, treated with respect, and provided opportunities equal to those afforded to the men of the company. For me, this has been true during my time. As a leader, I an committed to making sure that the experience I have is the same as the rest of the organization. We have a leadership team that is committed to these principles in every way.

I am proud to be part of a company that takes a hard—line approach to inappropriate or hostile work environments and sexual harassment issues. Our Speak Up campaign reinforces our zero tolerance for retaliation against those who do speak up. We've made significant investments to foster inclusive behaviors, and to reflect greater diversity within our leadership teams including:

* Investing in and strengthening our DE&I Employee Networks; creating global networks to bring together the efforts in all of our business units and the introduction of Executive Sponsors.
* Introducing learning and development programs, including inclusive hiring training.
* Amplifying internal programs such as the Way2Play Heroes and the recurring Speak Up campaign.
* Reinforcing channels for employees to report violations including the "ASK List."
* Introducing an Employee Relations team dedicated to investigating employee concerns.
* Continuing to require all employees to take Equality & Diversity training including anti—harassment training (and have done so for many years).

We put tremendous effort into creating fair compensation policies that reflect our commitment to equal opportunity. We review compensation regularly and feel confident that we pay all employees fairly for equal or substantially similar work. We take proactive steps to ensure that pay and advancement are driven by merit. We reward performance, and we conduct extensive anti—discrimination trainings, including for those who are part of the compensation process.

We work at a company that truly values equality and fairness. Rest assured that leadership is committed to continuing to maintain a safe, fair, and inclusive workplace. We cannot let egregious actions of others, and a truly meritless and irresponsible lawsuit, damage our culture of respect and equal opportunity for all employees. We aspire in our company to do great things: in our games, in our impact on society, and in our work environment. We continue to hold firm to our principles and invest, as we have in the past, the resources to ensure quality opportunities for all employees. We remain committed as a leadership team to doing what is right.

- Fran



Warcraft III: Reforged Production Backstory
In an article posted on Bloomberg, Jason Schreier goes over how Blizzard botched the Warcraft III remake because of internal fights and pressure over costs.
  • According to newly revealed documents and people with knowledge of the failed launch, Warcraft III: Reforged was a result of mismanagement and financial pressures pushed by Activision.
  • Blizzard originally promised "over four hours of updated in-game cutscenes and re-recorded voice-overs", however the game launched without that. The remake also lacked features from the original Warcraft III, such as a ranked ladder for competitive players.
  • Due to a limited budget, the hiring was restricted to the point where not even employees from other Blizzard departments could come and help.
    • Some employees were tasked to do multiple jobs at once, and had to work many nights and weekends to try and finish the game.
    • Layoffs from February 2019 included some employees working in Blizzard's support departments.
    • The team shared that: "we were missing and/or had the wrong people in certain lead roles" and that "the team structure didn't set up the project for success".
    • By the end of 2019, employees from all across Blizzard were brought in to help finish the game, but even that wasn't enough.

by Published on 2021-07-23 06:29 AM

WoW Patch 9.1 Hotfixes - July 23, 2021
Originally Posted by Blizzard (Blue Tracker)
Classes

  • Demon Hunter
    • Fixed an issue with Hidden Helm and Hidden Cloak transmog options for Demon Hunters not using the correct appearances.

Covenants

  • Soulbinds
    • Night Fae
      • Fixed an issue where Podtender (Dreamweaver) would cause the player to die when accepting a queue.

Dungeons and Raids

  • Sanctum of Domination
    • Remnant of Ner’zhul
      • Fixed an issue that allowed cleave effects to hit his armor pieces on Mythic difficulty.
  • Mythic+
    • Fixed an issue where dying after completing the dungeon in time could cause you to lose the ability to trade your keystone with Ta'hsup.
    • Tormented Affix
      • The spawn location of the 4th Tormented Affix lieutenant in Sanguine Depths has been adjusted to be available before Grand Proctor Beryilla.
  • Spires of Ascension
    • Devos
      • Fixed an issue that would cause Archon's Bastion damage reduction buff to be removed with player immunity effects.
  • Tazavesh, the Veiled Market
    • Fixed an issue where Lethal Force would continue to affect players after Commander Zo’far’s defeat.

Items and Rewards

  • Paragon reputation gains for The Archivists' Codex faction now function properly.

Torghast, Tower of the Damned

  • Torments
    • Raging can now be dispelled by spells that remove enrage effects such as Soothe.
    • Unstoppable is no longer removed from the enemy upon the player’s defeat.
by Published on 2021-07-23 01:31 AM

WoW Patch 9.1 Hotfixes - July 22, 2021
Originally Posted by Blizzard (Blue Tracker / Official Forums)
Achievements

  • Fixed an issue where Horde players who have earned the Hall of Fame: Sylvanas achievement were not granted the Famed Bane of The Banshee Queen title.

Classes

  • Priest
    • Fixed an issue where Bwonsamdi's Pact (Runecarving Power) disappeared prematurely if Fae Guardians (Night Fae Ability) lasted longer than 20 seconds.

Items and Rewards

  • Shards of Domination
    • Blood Link's target application has been made more reliable.
  • Using the Silver Shardhide Whistle toy while in a Druid form will now cancel the form and activate the toy instead of failing and putting the toy on cooldown.

Torghast, Tower of the Damned

  • Anima Powers
    • Priest
      • Fixed an issue where Bwonsamdi's Pact (Runecarving Power) was not benefitting from Dreamspun Mushrooms (Anima Power).
  • Torments
    • Avenger will no longer spam sound effects on every kill.

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