With news of the possible Microsoft acquisition this week, the culture at Blizzard once again came under the spotlight. This would seem a perfect time for Blizzard’s relatively new CEO Mike Ybarra to release a statement of his own on how they are tackling the problems at the company.
I’m humbled to be part of Blizzard Entertainment–the rich history, the incredible talent, the best player communities, and of course, the amazing games we’re so fortunate to create. I’ve been leading Blizzard for a couple of months now, and in addition to the exciting news this week, I want to share some initial thoughts as we strive to put our team and players at the forefront of everything we do.
2021 was challenging for all of us. As individuals, we care about treating everyone around us with respect and dignity. As professionals, we care deeply about our crafts, and we want to work in the most supportive and safe environment possible.
Our top priority—now and into the future—is the work we are doing to rebuild your trust in Blizzard.
Watching Blizzard work as creatively and diligently as we have throughout this challenging time (on top of an ongoing pandemic) has been inspiring. Navigating these challenges, evolving our development processes, and being introspective and looking at how we can improve our culture shows incredible strength and commitment to one another, our work, and to the player communities.
I also was encouraged in reading forums, social posts, and emails from people within and outside of Blizzard, standing up for what is right and lending us your guidance. I want you all to know we are listening, and we are committed to change. As a first step toward improving communication with the community, I wanted to highlight some of the initial actions we are taking to improve our culture:
- We’re 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.
- We’re dedicating more full-time roles and resources to improving our culture. All too often, this important effort falls to employee resource groups, filled with people who already have full-time jobs. A few of the leadership positions we’ve established for this new team include:
- a Culture leader who will help us maintain the best aspects of what we have today, and change and evolve where needed to ensure everyone brings their best self to Blizzard
- a new organizational leader for Human Resources who will build trust, empower our teams, and help foster a safe, positive work environment for everyone
- a Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DE&I) leader solely focused on our progress across multiple efforts in this area
We are committed to staffing these teams as a priority.
- We tripled the size of our compliance and investigation teams and have articulated clear accountability for unacceptable behavior. This applies to all employees at Blizzard, including leadership and management.
- We have shared representation data internally with our teams and have set goals around improvement across these metrics.
- We’ve put in place an upward feedback program so that employees have confidence in evaluating management, and we will use this to measure the quality and effectiveness of our managers.
These actions are just the beginning of the work that lies ahead for Blizzard. I’m motivated and excited to work directly on building the best environment for our teams, to allow them to bring their visions to life.
We also know 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.
I want to thank our communities and our incredible teams for your dedication and guidance, which will always be our north star.
Here’s to an incredible 2022 and beyond.
– Mike “Qwik” Ybarra
There’s no doubt the culture at Blizzard had become toxic over the years but it’s always been there with some individuals as far back as the late nineties. Thankfully, there’s been a clean-out and we’re hoping now that many of those toxic individuals have been given the boot.
We’ve been following the company now for more than 25 years and some of the things we’ve seen and heard in that time have been disappointing. I truly hope that this is a huge moment for Blizzard to turn things around. There are a lot of great people working there and it’s always the bad eggs that tarnish what should be a shining star in the videogame industry.
The problem is, we have seen comments such as, “I want you all to know we are listening”, said before many times only for nothing to change or things to slip back. This time could be different, perhaps Mike Ybarra can offer real leadership and we’ll see the company thrive moving forward. Blizzard has a lot to offer so let’s hope they make the most of the talent at the company.